Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Jeremy Irons on His Love of T.S. Eliot

Jeremy Irons will be reading "Four Quartets" at the Telegraph Hay Festival. He talked to Horatia Harrod about the friendship that inspired his interest in TS Eliot.

From the article...

Hart never explained why she chose Eliot for him, but perhaps it was this sense of freedom that she admired: “I just took it on with my gut and came at it with a lack of responsibility.” Was he ever intimidated by Eliot’s work? “I tried to fight that,” he says, “because I think that can work against the transference of it. I think you’ve got to own it. You mustn’t be frightened of it, mustn’t make it anything special. It’s just somebody trying to explain a feeling that he has.” 

Some of Irons’s enviable fearlessness about Eliot’s text may be explained by the fact that he has always read it aloud. Heaney wrote that it was hearing Eliot’s poetry that allowed him to begin to approach it with less feverish anxiety. “What I heard made sense,” he wrote. In being read aloud, the compressed intensity of the poem can open up, and suddenly there is space to think and to understand. 

Eliot himself recorded a version of Four Quartets that Irons discovered when preparing to read the poem. “I’ve always felt that poets are not the best readers of their work,” he says, “but I thought he was very good. It’s very much a sort of Forties rendition, proper English.” Irons then turned to the actor Paul Scofield’s reading. “I thought he was at times really good,” he says, “but when he hadn’t got a true grasp of it he became a bit actor-y.”

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