I would add to this discussion the following note: From the start, but esp after 1922 (from TWL/Hollow Men to the plays and Four Q) one can find several strands in his poetry/drama that may seem (and are) contrary, and in this he resembles Blake ("without contraries is no progression," said Blake):
1.  Private (romantic?) turmoil and pain. This autobiographical strand (see #2) was strongly masked by using dramatic monologue and staged drama, enabling him to stress (without seeming hypocritical) his "classical" project in both poetry and criticism in the post-Great-War period.
The appearance of the full letters (sometime after 2020, one imagines) will show how closely linked TSE's art and his life actually are. Lyndall Gordon will be proved correct in many of her conjectures, I think.
2.  Classical formalism and reticence; hence his use of "distancing" masks for himself (and family and other attachments), esp in the plays.
3.  Moral philosophy (his training as philosopher never left him). Also Eastern religion, esp Buddhism, with its emphasis on such moral elements as renunciation, dispassionateness, control, discipline, etc.
4.  Christian theology (including "theodicy," or the theological explanation of the presence of evil [and human perversity] in a monotheistic, providentially directed universe). TSE never felt at home in this sphere, but pursued it in later years (which explains his affinity for theologians like R. Niebuhr, Tillich, and Buber in the 1950's).
5.  His continued obsession with allusion, which as his career progressed, began to look more like homage to his forebears (along the lines set down by Bloom) than witty genuflexions to obscure texts. This includes echoing of his own poetry from time to time, as if attempting to drag the past into the present (e.g., the 5-part structure of TWL echoed in each of the 4Q).
In 4Q all these strands are tightly woven and probably play off each other.  --  Jim
James Loucks, Ph.D.
Ohio State University-Newark
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From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. on behalf of cr mittal
Sent: Fri 09-Sep-05 5:07 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: {{very OT}}RE: Echoes of Eliot

Vis-a-vis some reactions to this posting, I wish to submit that it was only intended to highlight the romantic aspect of Eliot's poetry. And personal pain is essentially a romantic strain.  In doing so I was only toeing Peter Ackroyd who remarked that the impersonality imposed by art on Eliot's personal feelings did not detract either from the genuineness of his pain, or of the loneliness which it imposed upon him. ('T.S. Eliot: A Life', New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984, p. 306).
 I hope I am here at "T.S. Eliot Discussion Forum".
~ CR

cr mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
"sovegna vos a temps de ma dolor"  (be mindful in due time of my pain)
A classicist only in tendency and, admittedly, a romantic at heart,
TSE wanted us to remember his pain. Albeit by inference. You will
pardon me if I feel prompted to commemorate it.
"By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept . .
 Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
 Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long."
"The new years walk, restoring
 Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
 With a new verse the ancient rhyme."
"Footfalls echo in the memory
 Down the passage which we did not take
 Towards the door we never opened
 Into the rose-garden.
"She turned away, but with the autumn weather
Compelled my imagination many days...
Sometimes these cogitations still amaze
The troubled midnight and the noon's repose.
"The notion of some infinitely gentle
 Infinitely suffering thing."

Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
And some on the list would think, no doubt, he should be
re-possessed. I have been reminded of a dream I had
when I was doing my graduate work on Eliot (keeping
in mind that I seldom have memorable dreams). I met
him in some sort of billiard parlour. I asked him how
he was doing, and he replied that he was in great pain.
I'm sure that will give joy to those who think he deserves
it based on what evidence they think they have as to
how he behaved. Reminds me of the Salem witch trials
(cf the Crucible). New England puritanism rides again.

I prefer to think I was inflicting pain on him myself by
what I was doing with my work.

All very Dantesque.


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