Interestingly, it has been precisely the returning of Eliot to "human scale" that has given him a massive new critical life--letting go of all that puff made him interesting again, along with all the new materials (letters, IMH, Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry with great notes, new biographies, new knowledge). The iconic Eliot had, as this suggests, become a bit of a bore. He has been rediscovered as a far more complicated and significant figure in New Modernism studies. I don't think anyone would say in 2009 what seemed the case in 1989. It is his humanness--which includes all the ways he was wrong and self-absorbed and "parochial," as well as the ways he was poetically brilliant and sometimes right and sometimes even global (as in the conference in Florence and in a new book on international reception)--that makes him worth continuing to read and study. It may not be the "age of Eliot," but Eliot is everywhere in books and papers and conferences now because he has evoked new interests. That may suggest that he will be one of the writers who outlives his own time even when he is topical.
Nancy>>> Gunnar Jauch <[log in to unmask]>01/19/09 10:30 AM >>>
... in THE N.Y., my favorite mag,
(btw: wonderful + funny drawing -- the gloss on the grecian urn is fantastic!)
a vicious article:
ABSTRACT: A CRITIC AT LARGE about the poet T.S. Eliot, who once was a commanding literary figure whose formulations were revered. It's impossible nowadays to imagine such authority accruing to a poet. In his person, if not in his poetry, Eliot was false coinage. Born in St, Louis, he became indistinguishable from a proper British Tory. Such unalloyed self-alteration suggests a hatred of the original design. And certainly Eliot condemned the optimism of democratic American meliorism, he despised Unitarianism, centered less on personal salvation than on social good, & he had contempt for Jews as marginal, if not inimical to his concept of Christian community. In the 40s & 50s Eliot was absolute art: high art when art was its most serious & elitist. Eliot's aristocratic ideas which some might call Eurocentric & obscurantist no longer interest most literary intellectuals. The biographies that have appeared in recent years have brought Eliot down to human scale. They've exposed the nightmare of Eliot's first marriage & its devastating evolution. It is in the nature of fame to undergo revision: Eliot appears now to be similarlt receding into the parochial, even the sectarian. His reach, once broad enough to incorporate the Upanishads, shrank to extend no farther than the neighborhood sacristy, & to a still smaller place the closet of the self. The chief elements of the Age of Eliot are no longer with us & may never return: the belief that poetry can be redemptive; the conviction that history underlies poetry.
To honor the tomorrow's historic event,/span>
(just to illustrate how much attention given to it here in Old Europe:
a friend of mine who has no TV asked me if he could come over to watch it at 6 p.m.)
a debate on Obama and TSE would be in order.
It seems he had been quoting TSE at length in hisinnesotapeech. Any ideas?/span>