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Peter,

I consider Eliot and D.H.Lawrence to be two great
critics of Western Civilization, and it is precisely
their remarks on its development that made me question
the roots of the Western Civilization.  On a different
context I came to know that the School books in the
West trace the history as early as the Sumerian and
the Egyptian.  I was surprised since I haven’t seen
any recognition, let alone any acknowledgement, of the
pre-Christian civilizations among many of the
Americans and the Europeans that I know.   But what
has baffled me is that Eliot and Lawrence who took a
few parallel and diametrically opposite stands to life
as well, have a bearing on this subject which I
believe, is vital for anyone who wants to have a grasp
of civilization and a sense of one’s past.

Let me quote from Eliot’s ‘Notes…’ (From the Appendix)

“Those countries which share the most history, are the
most important
to each other, with respect to their future
literature. We have our
common classics, of Greece and Rome; we have a common
classic even in
our several translations of the Bible.”

”It is in Christianity that our arts have developed;
it is in
Christianity that the laws of Europe have until
recently been
rooted. It is against a background of Christianity
that all our
thought has significance…Only a Christian Culture
could have produced
a Voltaire or a Nietzche…To our Christian heritage we
owe many things
beside religious faith.”

I am very well aware that those quotes when read in
isolation and not in the larger context of the book,
could acquire a different meaning.  But then, I think
I can safely quote here, since we all know the
affiliation towards Christianity that Eliot had.  I
believe that Eliot didn’t attach much importance to
his roots earlier to the Christian beginnings.

On the other hand, D.H.Lawrence has made very
important observations as to how the European mind
turned its course leaning more and more towards the
‘mental’ from the Greek period onwards.  In his
‘Apocalypse’ and ‘Fantasia…’ (and of course in his
major novels in different degrees), he traces this
change brilliantly.

My interest in this question here lies in the fact
that this group has a learned audience well versed in
European traditions.  I will be thankful for any input
on this subject by anyone.  I will also try to expand
my take on this subject within the limits of my
expressing ability.

Thank You.

- vishvesh





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