A Life Composed : T.S. Eliot and the Morals of Modernism
Muenster : LIT / US: Transaction Publishers
Bd. 17, 2002, 368 S., 24.90 EUR, br., ISBN 3-8258-6362-x
"The modern literary critic", T. S. Eliot wrote in 1929, "must be an `experimenter' outside of what you might at first consider his own province; [punkte] there is no literary problem which does not lead us irresistibly to larger problems." The present study follows Eliot's principle and situates his literary and critical work in a wide context that reveals manifold links between aesthetics, ethics, politics and epistemology: the historical context of early-twentieth-century idealism, vitalism and pragmatism, especially the intensely political Bergsonian controversy, and the modern context of the philosophies of Charles Taylor, Michel Foucault and Richard Rorty. `Knowledge', it argues, was verbalised in the modernist age, individualised into the act of `knowing', an act with motives and goals, and thus introduced into the realm of ethics - a process central to twentieth-century thought. Eliot's poems especially, constructed as "a life composed", a literary lifetime linking c!
omposition and composure, ponder the virtue of precision, the sins of pride and "mental sloth", the temptation of prejudice and the need for conviction. Decidedly tentative, Eliot's poems solve the problem of morally significant literature. In a century of suspicion, they ask the crucial question of where one should start to rely.
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