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The Best Reading of T.S. Eliot
I realize I may be accused of writing too much about T.S. Eliot, but this was too good not to share. The BBC recently aired an episode of actor Jeremy Irons reading Eliot’s The Four Quartets, and it is a superb rendition. The episode only remained on the BBC website for six days before being removed, but the entire recording may still be found at Jeremy Iron’s website.
This episode aired at an extremely unique moment for myself. For Christmas, a friend sent the TV mini-series of Brideshead Revisited starring none other than Jeremy Irons as Charles Ryder.
Irons is a bit of a mystery to religious believers. He is not religious, yet his wife is a devout Catholic. Last year he made news for pointing out that gay marriage leaves us with a slippery slope regarding what other sorts of sexual relationships we choose to forbid or allow. He stars as Pope Alexander VI in Showtime’s The Borgias, which, needless to say, presents the Catholic Church in a rather dim light.
Nevertheless, for those who appreciate good Christian art it seems they can’t help but run into Irons. When he is not voicing Disney villains or chasing Bruce Willis through New York, he delivers possibly the best presentations of religious work. Brideshead Revisited is a story of redemption and grace, and Eliot’s poetry reminds us what the world would look like without Christianity. Irons has long admired Eliot and is frequently asked to read the poet’s work. His website also has an excellent recording of The Waste Land. Regardless of Irons’ own religious beliefs, he hits the mark in each of his performances. T.S. Eliot’s widow, Valerie Eliot, once heard Irons read Eliot’s work and afterwards confessed to a friend, “He’s got him.”
So once you are through reading this, put down the phone, leave “this twittering world” behind, pour a glass of Islay, and listen to the words of the 20th century’s best poet.
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