Sorry for the very quick replay to your questions Tom but it was a
summer afternoon and the wild blackberries were ripe and calling.*
I don't know much about Henri Bergson or Eliot and Bergson but
Bergson did write about time and memory and Eliot did attend some
Bergson lectures in his Paris year of 1910-11. TSE was critical of
Bergson later but I think many critics see TSE under Bergson's
influence early on. You may want to explore this. A start:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matter_and_Memory (Bergson also
prompted Eliot to acknowledge his anglo-catholic, royalist and
Now on to some of your earlier questions:
> 2) Is he being sarcastic when he says "It is a method for which
> the horoscope is auspicious"?
Sorry, I've thought some on this but I have no idea how to read
this other then to ignore it as an aside.
> Also from the above quote, Eliot writes, "Psychology . . ,
> ethnology, and The Golden Bough have concurred to make possible
> what was impossible even a few years ago."
> 3) Does anyone have a clear idea of how these three particular
> things make it "possible" to now (that is, post-1923) write in the
> "mythical method"?
Time has marched on and I don't see James Frazer as the
popularizer of myth; I see Joseph Campbell. But I think what Eliot
is getting at is that with the knowledge of psychology, ethnology
and myth that wasn't available before we could go beyond reading
myths as stories to see them as an attempt to get us to think
about the meaning of humanity.
In a later posting Tom wrote:
> By the way, the Tradition essay specifically calls out
> **literature** ("Whoever has approved this idea of order, of the
> form of European, of English literature . . ."), but I wonder if
> there is any evidence that Eliot thought the idea of the present
> changing the past was a much more general concept that applied to
> the human condition. I'm thinking about things like his marriage
> to Vivienne, which, in hindsight, must have seemed to Eliot like
> quite a different thing than it did when they first met. Would
> that be an example of the present changing the past, at least in
> one's judgment of the past or recollection of it??
For the main question here I fall back to my earlier comment on
Bergson but as for the specific mention of literature remember
that at this time Eliot was trying to make his mark as a critic.
By specifically mentioning literature he his reinforcing his
expertise in the field.
* Off topics (sorry if this is a bit bloggy but I can't help
"Summer afternoon--summer afternoon; to me those have always
been the two most beautiful words in the English language."
-- Henry James
I prefer a New England autumn but a Virginia spring is awfully
Eliot wrote about Wensleydale cheese being part of England's
heritage (this is a favorite of mine; try some if you can get it.)
I'm not really sure if blackberries and vanilla ice cream is part
of New England's heritage but it should be. And this reminds me, I
haven't had my lobster roll or Woodman's fried clams yet this year
and the sweet corn is almost ripe. I've got to get to work on this