Critical Essays By Ts Eliot

Critical Essays By Ts Eliot-66
Volume l is divided into three sections: Juvenilia and Undergraduate Writings; Graduate Essays and Ph. His first collection of them, (1920), has been disassembled, the individual items put in the order they appeared. How alive for the contemporary student of philosophy are the concerns they deal with—post-Hegelian idealism, questions of immediate experience, the nature of relations, objects, and truth—I can’t say but would imagine not very alive except historically.Each volume has thirty pages or so of introduction that provide a capsule version of Eliot’s life and writings during the period. As a once hopeful student of philosophy, I was unable to call up enough resources to find them of much interest, and I think that even an academic philosopher would need to have very specialized inclinations to follow the pages devoted to the arguments and concerns of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century thinkers such as Bergson, Josiah Royce, Bernard Bosanquet, Bertrand Russell, and above all F. Bradley, Eliot’s favorite philosopher-writer and the subject of his Ph. In an address Eliot gave to the Harvard Philosophical Club in 1914, “The Relationship Between Politics and Metaphysics,” he affects some humorous detachment from such issues, as he observes “Mr. the prophet who has put off his shoes and talks with the Absolute in a burning bush,” or “Professor Royce [to whom] we owe the resuscitation of Christianity by the method of last aid to the dead.” The first and most useful attempt to connect Eliot the philosopher with his behavior as critic and poet, was made decades ago by Hugh Kenner in the chapter “Bradley” in [2] Some letters of Eliot’s, written after his four-year immersion in philosophy and not available to Kenner, suggest that he had had enough of it.You can view samples of our professional work here.

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It has shaped generations of poets, critics and theorists and is a key text in modern literary criticism.

According to Eliot, “Every nation, every race, has not only its own creative, but its own critical turn of mind…” (page 47 ).

Using the analogy of a chemical reaction, Eliot explains that a “mature” poet’s mind works by being a passive “receptacle” of images, phrases and feelings which are combined, under immense concentration, into a new “art emotion.” For Eliot, true art has nothing to do with the personal life of the artist but is merely the result of a greater ability to synthesize and combine, an ability which comes from deep study and comprehensive knowledge.

Though Eliot’s belief that “Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality” sprang from what he viewed as the excesses of Romanticism, many scholars have noted how continuous Eliot’s thought – and the whole of Modernism – is with that of the Romantics’; his “impersonal poet” even has links with John Keats, who proposed a similar figure in “the chameleon poet.” But Eliot’s belief that critical study should be “diverted” from the poet to the poetry shaped the study of poetry for half a century, and while “Tradition and the Individual Talent” has had many detractors, especially those who question Eliot’s insistence on canonical works as standards of greatness, it is difficult to overemphasize the essay’s influence.

Over the past two months, I have been undergoing one of the more significant reading experiences of my life, the perusal of T. Eliot’s complete prose from the first twenty-one years of his writing career.

Eliot died in 1965, so these pages constitute a major recognition, after fifty years, of his contribution.And herein lies the impossible task of defining tradition.All we do is based upon this creative or critical turn of mind, based upon our religions or our morals or our art; and this has been true throughout all of history. But when a nation rises and falls, when a kingdom expands or a city dies in a cloud of flame, tradition is lost.Eliot’s essays actually map a highly personal set of preoccupations, responses and ideas about specific authors and works of art, as well as formulate more general theories on the connections between poetry, culture and society.Perhaps his best-known essay, “Tradition and the Individual Talent” was first published in 1919 and soon after included in The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism (1920).The poem moves from a series of fairly concrete (for Eliot) physical settings – a cityscape (the famous “patient etherised upon a table”) and several interiors (women’s arms in the lamplight, coffee spoons, fireplaces) – to a series of vague ocean images conveying Prufrock’s emotional distance from the world as he comes to recognize his second-rate status (“I am not Prince Hamlet’). Lewis once stated, “Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. “Prufrock” is powerful for its range of intellectual reference and also for the vividness of character achieved. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one. Without question, the most forbidding section for the common reader to navigate is the one containing Eliot’s graduate essays at Harvard and Oxford, and his Ph. Bertrand Russell directing with passionate enthusiasm his unearthly ballet of bloodless alphabets,” or “Professor Bosanquet . In one he explains “I took a piece of fairly technical philosophy for my thesis and my relativisim made me see so many sides to questions that I became hopelessly involved, and wrote a thesis perfectly unintelligible to anyone but myself.” In another he declares that all philosophizing is a perversion of reality, and that any philosopher as his private system develops and approaches completeness will become “equally preposterous—to anyone but its author.” Looking back on his Ph. thesis forty-six years later, he found himself “unable to think in the termi­nology of this essay, indeed, I do not pretend to understand it.” The Possum may be on display here, but I also think the poet-critic of later years was speaking accurately about his early preoccupation.He admired Bradley’s masterwork, , because it had “no positive results,” and what the editors call “the sauce of skepticism” seems to have been the truest thing he took away from his engagement with philosophy.Thought process is tradition; although Eliot says, “Yet if the only form of tradition…consisted in following the ways of the immediate generation before us…’tradition’ should be positively discouraged,” still my claim is this: tradition is in one’s own critical and creative turn of mind, within one’s self – the masses have no place in this tradition, no place in its creation, its encouragement, or its defining. “Criticism is an inevitable as breathing, and that we should be non the worse for articulating what passes in our minds when we read a book and feel and emotion about it.” (T. Eliot Tradition and individual talent, 1920, page 48) I really never thought about how much we criticize authors and poets. And so this word, as many others, goes forever undefined; it eludes the human mind as something invisible and impalpable eludes our fingers, as a scent eludes our grasping hands. When we read a book we compare it to another author of the same genre or we compare it to another book by that same author.


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