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TSE  February 2003

TSE February 2003

Subject:

T.S.Eliot and D.H.Lawrence

From:

Obla Vishvesh <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Thu, 13 Feb 2003 06:36:26 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (83 lines)

Hi all,

This is my first mail to this listing I accidentally,
but with a pleasant surprise, came across.  I have
been reading it for the past few days and it is a
great pleasure to be reminded of T.S.Eliot and some of
his works that are being discussed here.  My pleasure
in reading most of the postings here is greatly
augmented by the fact that I have become a computer
programmer after a delightful education in English
Literature, and that it provides a great refreshment
to my mind when I turn in to look at the digest I have
been receiving every day.

T.S.Eliot did make an everlasting impression on my
mind that was on its initial acquaintance with English
Literature and groping to arrive at an essential
understanding of it.  Even today whenever I return to
his early works, they still have retained the
freshness and stimulus that I have felt reading them
for the first time.  Moreover, it is through Eliot
that I first cultivated the ability to form standards
in my appreciation and evaluation of Literature.

But I had been nevertheless puzzled by the attitude he
was hell bent on maintaining towards D.H.Lawrence. The
damaging remarks that he made on Lawrence don’t appear
to be becoming of a critic of his caliber.  It appears
all the more puzzling, when one understands Lawrence
as an artist who sought after the founts of a vital
life (that is denied by modern life) that Eliot was
engaged himself in a different level of search though.


At a later time, I found this issue addressed by
another great critic, F.R.Leavis.  Leavis argues (in
his book “D.H.Lawrence : Novelist”) that it were the
conditions created and nurtured by a few life negating
interests unfortunately promoted by a creative writer
as Eliot himself, which stood right in the way to a
closer understanding of Lawrence. Art in its wholeness
is much beyond an attitude of distaste and disgust
towards life which characterized the works of
Flaubert, and against whom Lawrence can be placed
diagonally opposite. And Flaubert’s attitude towards
life, Leavis argues, isn’t much different to what
Eliot displayed. Leavis asserts that it is a “failure
of intelligence” as Henry James put it aptly, on the
character of Flaubert’s masterpiece Madame Bovary and
it is precisely the presence of intelligence, an
intelligence born of the whole integrated psyche that
characterizes the works of Lawrence. Lawrence was very
much against any life negating interests, for he had a
magnificent perception of life in its fullness and
lived from its sources than from the mind. The lack of
such “intelligence born of the whole integrated
psyche”, Leavis finds, makes him less of the
“representative in consciousness of the complex need
of the whole being”, and hence makes him a lesser
artist than Lawrence.  (And Leavis, a great critic
that he is, substantiates his statements by his
analysis of Eliot, particularly his dramas and a few
of his later critical works).   Comparison with
Lawrence aside, this, as Leavis points out, not only
stood in his way of understanding Lawrence, but also
let him malign Lawrence, and bestow greater importance
to James Joyce and Virginia Woolf.

I feel convinced by Leavis, but I would like to know
if Eliot is viewed differently on this issue by the
list members.  I would appreciate any reply on this
subject.

Thank you,

Regards,
vishvesh


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