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TSE  February 2005

TSE February 2005

Subject:

Re: Eliot on Lawrence

From:

"Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Tue, 8 Feb 2005 16:02:19 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (47 lines)

Vishvesh Obla wrote:
>
> That Eliot could relate Dostoyevsky when he spoke of
> Lawrence is interesting to me precisely because of
> what Lawrence thought of Russian Literature,
> Dostoevsky in particular.



Let me add the paragraph Eliot wrote just before Lawrence one.
In this one he writes of Dostoevsky.  Remember, this is just after
the English translations of Hesse's Dostoevsky essays from
"Blick ins Chaos" were published in "The Dial."   For info and text:
    http://world.std.com/~raparker/exploring/books/hesse_glimpse.html


   Both Miss Sinclair and Miss Stern--this type of fiction would appear
to be practised rather by women, and rather by extremely intelligent
women--are too shrewd, I imagine, to pass on to the third or
Dostoevsky type of novel. I recall one very interesting essay in this
kind, Mr Murry's Still Life revolting form of spiritual corruption:
but the method has produced more failures than successes. All
novelists are dangerous models for other novelists, but Dostoevsky--a
Russian known only through one translation--is especially
dangerous. For the method is only permissable if you see things the
way Dostoevsky saw them. I would not disparage a great writer by
pointing to the fortunes of his offspring. One reason of Dostoevsky's
appeal to the British mind is that he appears to satisfy the usual
definition of genius; that is, an infinite capacity for taking no
pains. On the other hand it is no good making a gospel of taking
pains, either; if a writer has not the standard of perfection in
himself, he will not acquire it from public agitation in favour of
"technique." (I have even read in a newspaper article in this country,
that the highest form of literary genius is indifferent to very
careful execution. It is truer to say that every good writer will be
careful about what is important for his purpose--but purposes vary
indefinitely.) My own view is that Dostoevsky had the gift, a sign of
genius in itself, for utilizing his weaknesses; so that epilepsy and
hysteria cease to be the defects of an individual and become--as a
fundamental weakness can, given the ability to face it and study
it--the entrance to a genuine and personal universe. I do not suppose
that Dostoevsky's struggles were fundamentally alien to Flaubert's. I
cannot believe, at all events, that Dostoevsky was a muddle-headed
soul-struggler anymore than I can believe that Plato was an Oxford
don. Of course, he sometimes parodies himself (his parodies are
instructive); but anything, unless it is as well done as it can be
done, may be ridiculous.

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