Print

Print


Dear Peter,

I cannot, I am afraid, agree with this summation:
>


> Interesting. The only reason I use the word
> touchstone is because it is a modern synonym for
> a proof rock. Conceivably Eliot was making his
> own commentary on Arnold by using that name.


I should need to see some evidence to be convinced that this line has 
any sort of allusion in it (ie references to Eliot's knowledge of 
Arnold at the time, his concern with his work, and comparing this to 
the specific context in which Arnold uses the word). It seems from here 
even very unlikely to be a coincidence . Therefore, the summation you 
make from such an unsupported inference seems to me a rather precarious.

Eliot's quarrel with the idea that the arts, esp.
> poetry could be a source of salvation for man
> seems to have started very early in his critical
> development.
>  

If you are interested, however, you might look at a book called Poetry 
and Religion, by Santayana (c 1908 r 1909). As you know, Eliot 
mentioned Santayana's Three Religious Poets on several occasions, and I 
believe he studied with him at Harvard. The complaint about poetry and 
salvation does not surface until 1932, in his talk on Arnold given in 
UPUC (I believe it is also levelled in a more minor way against 
Richards in the last lecture in 1933). This talk was of course given 
when he went back to Harvard; but I should certainly need to see more 
evidence to the effect that this was latent in Eliot's mind from 1911, 
or 'very early', as you put it.

This list is not only for scholars, but it may not be a bad idea for 
any poster to back their claims with scholarship (which, as Eliot said, 
even in its humblest forms, has its rights).

By the way, I see no reason for being unwarrantedly suspicious of the 
title of Professor; respect, I should guess, is due to those who earn 
it.

Sincerely, Jennifer