The contemplation of the horrid or sordid or
by an artist, is the necessary and negative aspect of
impulse toward the pursuit of beauty....The negative
the more importunate."
I had been struck by ‘Eliot’s contemplation of the
horrid or sordid or disgusting’ and I am glad that
this is being discussed here -- struck for the very
reason that it has parallels with Flaubert, in the
sense that Eliot preferred to stay away from life in
the Lawrentian sense (A relative note : Lawrence was
appalled by the disgust of life by a genius as Swift
who couldn’t bear the thought that his dear Julia
Are there any indicators from Eliot’s own works as to
what constituted ‘the horrid or sordid or disgusting’
--- cr mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Dear Marcin,
> You make some very perceptive observations.
> These, I believe, are crucial to our understanding
> Eliot's poetry, especially that he chose to
> in his lifetime.
> # the speaker in Preludes seems to be attempting
> a resolution of apparent dichotomies.
> # The subject - object dichotomy of the Cartesian
> approach is presented in the poem, I think, as
> inalienable andalienating...
> # The speaker's awareness of "multitude of
> solipsisms", and of his/her own partaking in such
> epistemic situation, is a step towards the sense
> alienation endemic in this very situation.
> # While there is no way out of it, the speaker comes
> to understanding that all the worlds constructed
> solipsistic ego-subjects are merely "points of
> "revolving like ancient women / Gathering fuel in
> vacant lots."
> # Those "worlds", with their pretensions to
> in the context of mystical experience of the ONE
> ("infinitely gentle"), may seem, I imagine,
> Marcin, I consider them precious statements --
> there's no question of my disagreeing with any of
> them, except maybe in the working out of their
> ramifications here and there vis-a-vis Eliot's
> Let me now compliment you for the following
> remarks you make in your reply to my post:
> # I do agree - there seems to be unity in the
> response to his/her everyday ("in spite of the
> differing identities he/she puts on").
> # The speaker is deep within the sordid. He/she is
> of the sordid "constituted"...
> # no matter how repulsive the street seems to
> he/she is there and within; one among many "raising
> dingy shades"; "sitting along the bed's edge",
> # I imagine that this is what Eliot has in mind
> writing in
> his essay on Dante: "The contemplation of the
> horrid or
> sordid or disgusting, by an artist, is the
> necessary and
> negative aspect of the impulse toward the pursuit
> beauty....The negative is the more importunate."
> # There is no gainsaying that the dichotomy
> the ideal and the real is the central dichotomy
> informed TSE's thought and sensitivity.
> # I agree with Harriet Davidson, that TSE in both
> poetry and thought was trying to resolve
> of various kinds, by "hermeneutic [...] circular
> of seeming opposites in each other".
> Marcin, thanks a lot for raising these points,
> all of them
> exceedingly crucial to our understanding of the
> dilemma in Eliot's poetry. Dunja in one of her
> posts did
> draw our attention to this dilemma -- of the
> protagonist of Eliot's poetry (please take it to
> the poetry Eliot chose to get published) -- that
> of being
> at the same time a part of this world's corruption
> as well
> as a detached spectator contemplating the
> baseness, the
> futility and the meaninglessness of man's earthly
> engagements, as well as of his own life.
> there is a growing urge to break loose from this
> soul-killing ambience of sordidness and drudgery,
> and reach out for a spiritually satisfying mode of
> It is in this context that TSE remarked that
> "The contemplation of the horrid or sordid or
> by an artist, is the necessary and negative aspect
> of the
> impulse toward the pursuit of beauty....The
> negative is
> the more importunate."
> And this is what the poet, in my considered
> opinion, is
> doing in the 'Preludes'.
> This, I hope, supports those statements of yours
> elicit my admiration and praise. And this, I hope,
> take care of the areas where we tend to disagree.
> Many thanks again, Marcin, for your painstaking
> elucidation of your perceptions. I wished I could
> upon the centrality of each one of these many
> in Eliot's poetry. But, there will be time...
> I'll only be too glad to elaborate on any of
> points :)
> ~ CR
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