Narrating the Self: The Amalgamation of the Personal and the Impersonal in Eliot’s and Adonis’ Poetry

Imed Nsiri


This article demonstrates how the self—reference to personal stories—infiltrates some, if not most, of the poems by two renowned modernist poets and literary critics: the American/Englishman T. S. Eliot and the Syrian/Lebanese ʿAlī Aḥmad Saʿīd, popularly known as Adūnīs or Adonis. The article compares the two poets’ depictions of the personal and the impersonal in poetry, and it reaffirms the great influence that Eliot’s poetry has on Adūnīs and other Arab modernist poets. While Eliot’s criticism discourages any biographical reading of his poetry, Adūnīs holds a different view by openly acknowledging the inclusion or existence of the personal in his poetry. Adūnīs’ poetry, in particular, stresses the link between texts and historical figures in the realm of literature.


narrating the self; modernist poetry; literary criticism; T. S. Eliot; Adūnīs/Adonis

Full Text:



Ackroyd, Peter. T. S. Eliot. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984.

Adūnīs, ʿAlī Aḥmad Saʿīd. Al-Aʿmāl al-Shiʿriyyah (The Poetic Works). 3 vol.

Beirut: Al-Mada, 1996.

Adūnīs, ʿAlī Aḥmad Saʿīd. Al-Kitāb: Ams, al-makān al-ān: Makhṭūṭah tunsab lil-Mutanabbī

(The Book Yesterday, the Place Now: A Manuscript Attributed to al- Mutanabbī). 2 vols. Beirut: Al-Sāqī, 1993.

Al-Musawi, Muhsin J. “Dedications as Poetic Intersections,” Journal of Arabic Literature 31.1

(2000): 1–37.

Ashshareef, Teirab. The Metamorphic Vision: The Poetics of Time and History in the Works of

Adunis (ʿAli Ahmad Saʿid). Diss. Indiana U, 1986.

Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author.” Falling into Theory: Conflicting Views on Reading

Literature. Ed. David H. Richter. Boston: Bedford of St. Martin’s, 1994. 222-26.

Bateson, F. W. “Criticism’s Lost Leader.” The Literary Criticism of T. S. Eliot: New Essays. Ed.

David Newton De Molina. London: Athlone, 1977. 1-19.

Bloom, Harold. ed. T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. New York: Chelsea, 1986.

Boullata, Issa J. “Textual Intentions: A Reading of Adonis' Poem ‘Unintended Worship Ritual’.”

International Journal of Middle East Studies 21 (1989): 541-62

Canary, Robert H. T. S. Eliot: The Poet and His Critics. Chicago: ALA, 1982.

Craig, David. “The Defeatism of The Waste Land.” T.S. Eliot: The Waste Land. Eds. C.B. Cox

and Arnold P. Hinchliffe. London: Macmillan, 1968. 200-15.

Eliot, T. S. The Complete Poems and Plays: 1909-1950. New York: Harcourt, 1971.

Eliot, T. S. The Letters of T. S. Eliot: 1898-1922. Ed. Valerie Eliot. Vol. 1. London: Faber, 1988.

Eliot, T. S. Selected Essays. New York: Harcourt, 1960.

Eliot, T. S. Selected Prose. Ed. John Hayward. London: Penguin, 1953.

Eliot, T. S. Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot. Ed. Frank Kermode. London: Faber, 1975.

Eliot, T. S. “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” Selected Prose. Ed. John Hayward. London:

Penguin, 1953. 21-30.

Eliot, T. S. T. S. Eliot. The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts

Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound. Ed. Valerie Eliot. London: Faber, 1971.

Eliot, T. S. “The Waste Land” in The Complete Poems and Plays: 1909-1950. New York:

Harcourt, 1971. 37-55.

Ellmann, Richard. “The First Waste Land.” Cuddy, Lois A. and David H. Hirsch, eds. Critical

Essays on T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Boston: Hall, 1991. 167-75.

Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction. New York: Routledge,

Islamic Encyclopedia.

Accessed on March 3, 2018.

Jay, Gregory S. T. S. Eliot and the Poetics of Literary History. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP,

Jayyusi, Salma K. Trends and Movements in Modern Arabic Poetry. 2 vols. Leiden: Brill, 1977.

Jayyusi, Salma K. ed. Modern Arabic Poetry: An Anthology. New York: Columbia UP, 1987.

Jung, C. G. The Portable Jung. Ed. Joseph Campbell. Trans. R.F.C. Hull. New York: Viking,

Kenner, Hugh. The Invisible Poet: T. S. Eliot. New York: McDowell, 1959.

Kenner, Hugh. ed. T. S. Eliot: A Collection of Critical Essays. New Jersey: Prentice, 1962.

Leavis, F. R. New Bearings in English Poetry (1932) New Ed. London: Chatto, 1971.

Matthiessen, F. O. The Achievement of T. S. Eliot: An Essay on the Nature of Poetry. New York:

Oxford UP, 1958.

Moody, A. D. Thomas Stearns Eliot, Poet. London: Cambridge UP, 1979.

Morris, George L.K. “Marie, Marie, Hold on Tight.” Kenner, T S Eliot, 86-88. Naked in Exile.

Trans. Adnan Haydar and Michael Beard. Washington: Three Continents Press, 1984.

Peter, John. “A New Interpretation of The Waste Land.” T. S. Eliot: Critical Assessments. Ed.

Graham Clark. Vol. 2. London: Helm, 1990. 244-62.

Saʿīd, ʿAlī Aḥmad (Adūnīs) wa Yūsuf al-Khāl. Al-Ard al-Kharāb: Tarjamah min al-Shiʿr al-

Muʿāsir. Beirut: Dār Majallat Shiʿr. 1958.

Saʿīd, ʿAlī Aḥmad. Muqaddimah lil-Shiʿr al-ʿArabī. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1986.

Southam, B. C. A Student’s Guide to the Selected Poems of T. S. Eliot. 6th ed. London: Faber,

Stetkevych, Suzanne P. Poetics of Islamic Legitimacy: Myth, Gender, & Ceremony in the

Classical Arabic Ode. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2002.

Trosman, Harry. “T. S. Eliot and The Waste Land: Psychopathological Antecedents and

Transformations.” Archives of General Psychiatry 30 (1974): 709-17.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.