Ts Eliot Essays Tradition

Ts Eliot Essays Tradition-55
The essay was also subjected to a severe ideological critique by scholars with a Marxist bias: Terry Eagleton scornfully derided Eliot’s legacy, reducing it to a mere authoritarian cultural ideology in the spirit of Orwell’s “two legs good, four legs bad”: “Eliot’s own solution is an extreme right-wing authoritarianism: men and women must sacrifice their petty ‘personalities’ and opinions to an impersonal order.

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This article reconsiders Eliot’s concepts of tradition and impersonality in the light of the revolution that took place in the visual arts in the first decades of the twentieth century, whose experimental language he tried to transfer to poetic practice.His erudite idiom was taken as a privileged and exclusive form of discourse of the dominant ideology.Poet critics such as Karl Shapiro made a plea (1960).4 Inimical to change, the concept of tradition itself seemed to go against the grain of the intellectual framework of modernity keen on progress and newness.[…] This arbitrary construct, however, is the paradoxically imbued with the force of an absolute authority.”5 Postmodern critics have often misunderstood or even resented Eliot’s theoretical presuppositions.If at present, the essay is being criticized because it makes a plea for order and stability, in 1919, when it was published, it sounded deeply subversive.Part of our current misunderstanding of Eliot’s essay is due to our imposition of postmodern concerns on another time and context.Back in 1919, the romantic aesthetics of direct expression of emotions created a sense of .Reviled in the 1920s as “a drunken bolshevik” (Spender, 11), Eliot gradually acquired the status of a god-fatherly institution, and by the late 1950s, he was considered rather like a literary dictator.Delmore Schwartz hailed Eliot as the “International Hero,” the poet of the postwar age, whose work, of all the moderns “had direct and comprehensive concern with the essential nature of modern life” (126-28)., in September and December of 1919, “Tradition and the Individual Talent” was soon destined to become an “instant classic.”1 By mid-century, this essay was accepted as the “gospel” of literary theory (Schuchard, 73).Eliot famously proclaimed: “Tradition […] cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour” ( 14).2 Since then, generation after generation of writers and critics have attested to the importance of this essay not only in Eliot’s works but also in the development of modern literary criticism.


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