One dimension of this issue that has yet to be noted,
is the social context of scripture. Since WWII the disappearance
of Biblical literacy has been phenomenal. In Eliot's early
period he could reasonably assume most people, esp.
Protestants, were well familiar with the Bible, whether they
adhered to it in any of the many and beautifully varied churches
or not. They were raised with it, and in some cases forced to
devour it almost whole. Today one is lucky if one has
any students who can get the sense of "the bitter apple, and the bite
in the iPhone."
[I do not mean any put down by this observation. My students need
not feel guilty, just because they don't know the archetypal elements
in the Bible. It is simply a fact, the result of shifting cultural values
broadening origins of the population.]
It would be natural for scholars in TWL time to think that
beggaring all the Biblical allusions was a waste of time,
sheer restating of the obvious. Today, Biblical explication
is almost a necessity in cases where a finer point is being made.
So, even if Eliot's early use of the word CISTERN had no
apparent Biblical context to it, he still might have, who can say,
been consciously or unconsciously influenced, esp. by The
King James Version, which with Shakespare is part of the deep
treasure chest of the language.
The fact that E. did reference other OT prophets makes it interesting
at least to examine whether Jeremiah had a place in that work.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Carrol Cox" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 8:39 AM
Subject: Re: a Jeremiah sighting?
> Rickard A Parker wrote:
> > Also, I don't think a cistern
> > needs much of a note on allusions, even an empty, broken one. But if
> > we could find an empty, broken cistern that sings, now that would be a
> > different matter.
> Yes. This is my point in raising the question of a miltonic allusion in
> Pope's ten low words passage. Milking every word for every possible echo
> or sense of that word is lunacy. "Creep" occurs an endless number of
> times in English, as does "cistern," and there is no basis whatever to
> link any of those uses to either Milton or Pope unless there is
> something definite in the text as a whole for for the linkage. That is
> the principle (if I'm reading the marginal scribbles in my copy of 4Q
> correctly) that led Austin Warren in lecturing on that poem to suggest
> that the echo of Doyle in that poem was merely a borrowing and _not_ an
> allusion -- i.e., it does not illuminate but obscure meaning to try to
> explain why doyle enters the poem at that point.
> The more (apparent) allusions there are in a text probably the more
> important it is to ignore most of them to avoid impossible clutter.
> No virus found in this incoming message.
> Checked by AVG Free Edition.
> Version: 7.5.476 / Virus Database: 269.10.2/894 - Release Date: 7/10/2007