Four Quartets – Harold Pinter Theatre

Joshua Robey

Ralph Fiennes in Four Quartets

‘In my beginning is my end. […] In my end is my beginning.’

From ‘Burnt Norton’, Four Quartets, by T.S. Eliot

So begins (and ends) ‘East Coker’, the second of the four poems which make up T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, which now receives a major solo rendition in the West End, self-directed by Ralph Fiennes. Widely considered Eliot’s last great poetic work, it is a text deeply concerned with time, beyond the limitations of human perception – influenced by traditions and texts ranging from the Pre-Socratics in Ancient Greece to Hinduism, Julian of Norwich and his own ‘anglo-catholic’ beliefs (as he self-described, without the customary capitalisation, in 1929).

Eliot writes with an after-dinner wit and a focused philosophical seriousness all at once, which is dryly conveyed by Fiennes’ manner, fluctuating between offhand and earnestly supplicatory at a moment’s notice. Lines such as ‘You…

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By penwithlit

Freelance writer and radio presenter

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