Thanks, John, for the pointers.  That is very helpful.  Eliot made such a to-do about his faith, especially in the latter part of his life.  His arrogance and judgmentalness, however, contradict what some would say are basic teachings of his faith; so perhaps those behaviors are channeled through Puritan New England roots.  But where did the god connection come from, and the mysticism come from?  I can see that the mysticism may have come from the poets (Dante, Baudelaire), but where did the god connection come from?  His mother?



On Tue, May 29, 2012 at 11:24 AM, John Morgenstern <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Your query assumes nothing (implicitly or otherwise) other than that you're interested in thinking more about Eliot's faith (or, as some might say, "struggle with faith"). You're right to remark that Pound's early reactions to Eliot's Catholicism were hardly positive and a host of critics have since responded rather dismissively to it (William Skaff, Adam Kirsch, and the Catholic writer Joseph Bottum to name a few). Your question is a serious one, which should not be dismissed so easily, and certainly not with closed-mindedness.  

There's a substantial body of scholarship on Eliot and religion. You might begin with a few critical biographies, which deal with the subject rather aptly and accessibly: Denis Donoghue's Words Alone (2000), Helen Gardner's The Art of T. S. Eliot (1949), or Russell Kirk's Eliot and His Age (revised edition 2008), all of which are still relevant. More recently, Barry Spurr  published a monograph on Eliot's Anglo-Catholicism, Anglo-Catholic in Religion: T. S. Eliot and Christianity, a condensed version of which appeared in T. S. Eliot in Context, edited by Jason Harding. Later this year, the journal Religion and Literature will publish a special issue on Eliot's religion (edited by Craig Woelfel and Dominic Manganiello) and Benjamin Lockerd is editing a case study on the subject for Farleigh Dickinson University Press.  

I hope this list helps. No doubt other modernists would suggest alternative points of departure, but this list should at least give you a place to break in.  

Kindest wishes,

On Tue, May 29, 2012 at 1:45 PM, David Boyd <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
The reasoning implicit in your query appears to be that 'belief in God' wasn't / isn't the rational or proper personal faith of someone of Eliot's intellectual calibre.
That, I'd suggest, unjustifiably belittles the intellectual capacities of both Eliot and a veritiable host of others.

On 29 May 2012 18:19, John Angell Grant <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Why did T.S. Eliot believe in god?  

Pound and others found Eliot's belief in god incomprehensible.

Can anyone steer me to the scholarship on this issue, the issue of why Eliot believed in god?

Thanks in advance for any ideas.