New PDF release: T.S. Eliot (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)

By Harold, Ed Bloom

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Extra info for T.S. Eliot (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)

Sample text

Eliot was, I would argue, fully aware of this slight disjuncture between his poetry and that of other, less secular, cultures and times. Rather than waste energy in deploring it, however, he made of it part of the substance of his reflections. He thus contributed far more than a mere lesson in nostalgia to the religious sensibility of his time. The poems of his Christian period are in this respect at once devotional and modern not only in the literary, but in the religious senses of the term. While clearly designed to evoke more than a merely aesthetic response, they are at the same time fully reflective of that essential relativizing and reformulating of Christian tradition which stemmed, at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, from From T.

Are likewise permanent / With such permanence as time has” (CPP 133). Furthermore, since true wisdom is often corrosive as well as salutary, we are then reminded that we “appreciate this better” in the “agony of others” than in our own. indd 30 9/7/10 9:53:26 AM Doctrine and Wisdom in Four Quartets 31 even conventional Christian piety; indeed it rises at times to a dry realism, a sharpness, which is redeemed from misanthropy only by accuracy of insight. One finds this kind of writing elsewhere only in the French tradition, in La Rochefoucauld or Montaigne.

That old-time religion’ is simply not celebrated here, not even in the service of “a further union, a deeper communion” (CPP 129). Among the certainties which, for Eliot, must be sacrificed are a naive and uncritical belief in the immortality of what we like to think of as the individual self or soul, an unqualified affirmation of Christian belief as superior to other beliefs in all respects, and an easy expectation that all pain and suffering will be taken care of either by a simple passage of time or by some system of rewards and punishments after death.

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