What Cynthia Ozick wrote in 1989 was very much part of a strong reaction
against Eliot that was very much of the 1980's and early 1990's--a
reaction against what many saw as misogyny and racism and anti-Semitism
(please don't take up a big reaction: I'm only reporting). Many books
about then addressed what had been simply omitted in the Eliot canon and
criticism from a position of critique: for example the language about
Fresca in the Facsimile and examples of anti-feminist/anti-female images
in many poems, the Bolo poems, the images of Jews.
No one is now making that issue primary; it is just recognized that
Eliot is far more mixed and complicated than earlier critics could have
known without the material that was becoming available. But Ozick was
part of a serious reframing that then developed itself into a more
complex critical discourse.
I am proud to say that Cassandra's and my book was aimed at moving
beyond either idealizing or bashing, and reviews have seen it that way.
And since the last decade or so, that more interesting and complicated
Eliot has been increasingly--and again--central to many modernist
So I don't think at this time Ozick's claim is a foil.
>>> "Rickard A. Parker" 02/21/15 12:21 PM >>>
Weekend reading from Matthew Milliner
Matthew J. Milliner (a.k.a. "millinerd") has been teaching art history
at Wheaton College since 2011. In a previous life he earned a Ph.D. and
an M.A. in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University,
where he specialized in Byzantine and medieval art. In the life before
that, he graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary with an M.Div.
degree. In the life before that, ...
Sunday, March 10, 2013
The Enduring Age of Eliot
50 Years from T.S. Eliot
February 19, 2015
That Eliot has been met with both palm branches and nails does not mean
(as I’ve suggested elsewhere) we should campaign for his resurrection.
“Last year’s words belong to last year’s language,” he wrote in
Little Gidding, “And next year’s words await another voice.”
Curiously enough, much of this was intimated in a different
advertisement from that same 1989 issue of The New Yorker. Ozick may
have therein denounced Eliot’s “backward longing for the medieval
hegemony of cathedral spires.” But not far from those printed words,
Spain’s tourism office took out a full-page display of Antoni Gaudí’s
modern Gothic church, La Sagrada Familia, boasting of its “intricate
stone carvings which eloquently convey the mystery and meaning of faith.”
Anticipating the formula laid out in Eliot’s famous essay, Gaudí
assimilated the Gothic tradition, and yet transformed it for a new day,
creating an edifice that fused the child’s delight in a drip sand castle
with the polychrome gravity of Saint Basil’s Church on Moscow Square.
“And the Church must be forever building,” wrote Eliot in Choruses
from The Rock, “and always decaying, and always being restored.”