Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses

The Family Reunion as a turning point in T. S. Eliot’s Verse Drama: Analysis and Suggestions for Translation

Natalia Carbajosa Palmero



T. S. Eliot wrote The Family Reunion (1939) while he composed the Four Quartets, twelve years after his conversion to Anglo-Catholicism in 1927. The play erects a bridge between the author’s early stage productions (Sweeney Agonistes, The Rock and Murder in the Cathedral) and the later society plays (The Cocktail Party, The Confidential Clerk and The Elder Statesman). Moreover, in his 1951 essay “Poetry and Drama,” Eliot delves into the strengths and weaknesses of The Family Reunion and links this play with his own experiments with a “conversational line” which introduces popular theatrical conventions wrapped in the patterns of poetry that may appeal to theatre-goers. This paper deals with Eliot’s proposals for verse drama present in an incipient form in The Family Reunion, and explores the possible ways of translating these resources into Spanish. It focuses on Eliot’s own explanations in “Poetry and Drama” about the way in which to adapt blank verse to the stage. Furthermore, this essay explores metrical concepts such as stress and caesura and applies them to wider aspects concerning dramatic patterns and inner/outer voice in characters.


The Family Reunion; Eliot’s verse drama; theatre translation; blank verse, metrical concepts

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