'The interest in the sordid&c is a reaction against
the unrealism of the Victorian era with its romantic
fancifulness. Or so I have seen it presented. In fact
that is a whole lot of what the artistic ferment in
the 1st two decades of the 20th C. is all about.
In fact it isn't (I think for Eliot) a disgust with
life, as a rediscovery of life in the disgusting.
Values were dead in respectable society. Having values
even of the worst kind is batter than not having
values at all. Eliot found these values in the
faubourg of Paris, and the French poets which explored
That is an illuminating note, Peter. Thank You. It
fits in perfectly with the historical scenario. 'a
rediscovery of life in the disgusting', I liked that
phrase. I think he got that cue from Elizabethan
dramatists as Middleton. Probably from Kyd (and even
Shakespheare) as well.
I will keep your note in mind while I ponder more over
--- Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> The interest in the sordid&c is a reaction against
> the unrealism
> of the Victorian era with its romantic fancifulness.
> Or so I have
> seen it presented. In fact that is a whole lot of
> what the
> artistic ferment in the 1st two decades of the 20th
> C. is all about.
> In fact it isn't (I think for Eliot) a disgust with
> life, as a rediscovery
> of life in the disgusting. Values were dead in
> respectable society.
> Having values even of the worst kind is batter than
> not having
> values at all. Eliot found these values in the
> faubourg of Paris,
> and the French poets which explored them:
> "I myself owe Mr Symons a great debt; but for having
> read his
> book I should not, in the year 1908, have heard of
> Laforgue or
> Rimbaud; I should probably not have begun to read
> and but for reading Verlaine, I should not have
> heard of
> Corbière. So the Symons book is one of those which
> affected the course of my life." - T.S.Eliot
> CRITERION 9.35(Jan 1930):357-358.
> Here is an interesting testimony ( to some extent,
> anyway) to the point I
> made above:
> When Baudelaire's Satanism is dissociated from
> its less creditable
> paraphernalia, it amounts to a dim intuition
> of a part, but a very
> important part, of Christianity. Satanism
> itself, so far as not merely
> an affectation, was an attempt to get into
> Christianity by the back
> door. Genuine blasphemy, genuine in spirit and
> not merely verbal, is
> the product of a partial belief, and is as
> impossible to the com-
> plete athiest as to the perfect Christian.
> Eliot, T.S. "Baudelaire." SELECTED ESSAYS.
> London: Faber, 1963.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Vishvesh Obla" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, September 12, 2006 8:23 AM
> Subject: Re: 'contemplation of the horrid or sordid
> or disgusting
> Thank You for the quotes. I think I have seen a
> couple of them in this list itself on other threads.
> I understand the point made from those quotes --
> Eliot considered the portrayal of the sordid as an
> essential element of great art. While it certainly
> is, I am concened about it bordering over an element
> of disgust that is anti-life itself. For instance,
> the disgust that is against life itself and which
> emanates unconsciously in the works of Dostoyevsky
> behind his Christian posture? While he is a great
> critique of Christ, I see his sense of the sordid in
> an unimaginable proportion that it could turn
> life itself. I am afraid I see traces of that in
> Eliotâ?Ts own works. I raised that query in that
> --- Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > You mean as in
> > " The thousand sordid images
> > Of which your soul was constituted; " ???
> > Have you corncidered:
> > Boredom, horror and glory:
> > ==========================
> > It is an advantage to mankind in general to
> > live in a beautiful
> > world;that no one can doubt. But for the
> > is it so important?
> > We mean all sorts of things, I know, by
> > Beauty. But the essential
> > advantage for a poet is not, to have a
> > beautiful world with which
> > to deal: it is to be able to see beneath
> > beauty and ugliness;
> > to see the boredom, and the horror, and the
> > glory. (126)
> > Eliot,T.S. "Matthew Arnold." THE USE OF
> > AND THE USE OF
> > CRITICISM. London: Faber, 1933.
> > Baudelaire and LaForgue:
> > _______________________________
> > I think that from Baudelaire I learned first
> > precedent for the
> > poetical possibilities, never developed by
> > any poet writing in my
> > own language, of the more sordid aspects of
> > the modern metropolis,
> > of the possibility of fusion between the
> > sordidly realistic and the
> > phangtasmagoric, the possibility of the
> > juxtaposition of the matter
> > of fact and the fantastic. From him, as from
> > Laforgue, I learned
> > that the sort of material that I had, the
> > sort of experience that
> > an adolescent had had, in an indus trial
> > in America, could be
> > the material for poetry; and that the source
> > of new poetry might be
> > found in what had been regarded hitherto as
> > the impossible, the
> > sterile, the intractably unpoetic. That, in
> > fact, the business of
> > the poet was to make poetry out of the
> > unexplored resources of the
> > unpoetical; that the poet, in fact, was
> > committed by his profession
> > to turn the unpoetical into poetry. A great
> > poet can give a younger
> > poet everything that he has to give him, in
> > very few lines. It may
> > be that I am indebted to Baudelaire chiefly
> > for half a dozen lines
> > out of the whole of Fleurs du Mal; and that
> > his significance for me
> > is summed up in the lines:
> > Fourmillante Cite, cite pleine dereves,
> > Ou le spectre en plein jour raccroche le
> > passant...
> > I knew what that meant, because I had lived
> > before I knew that I
> > wanted to turn it into verse on my own
> > account.
> > Eliot, T.S. "What Dante Means to Me." TO
> > CRITICIZE THE CRITIC.
> > London: Faber, 1965.
> > I an old man
> > A dull head among windy spaces.
> > Signs are taken for wonders. "We would see a
> > sign!"
> > The word within a word, unable to speak a word.
> > Swaddled with darkness. In the juvescence of the
> > year
> > Came Christ the tiger.
> > In depraved May, dogwood and chestnut, flowering
> > judas,
> > To be eaten, to be divided, to be drunk
> > Among whispers ....
> > from "Gerontion" by T.S. Eliot
> > from SWEENEY AGONISTES (from memory)
> > I knew a man once, did a girl in
> > Every man has to, needs to, wants to do a girl in.
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