Please forgive this long post, but I have a few Eliot questions that the list may be able to help with.

I've listened to a course-on-tape by Professor Jeffery Perl, University of Texas, called "Literary modernism, The Struggle for Modern History". In one of the lectures talking about James Joyce's novel 'Ulysses', Professor Perl made the following point, which I have transcribed from the tapes:

"T. S. Eliot, upon reading early drafts of Joyce's chapters, became convinced that all great art, in being, as he said, 'really new', and at the same time, conforming to the pattern of artworks already in existence, he said that the really new work of art alters not only the present but also the past  -- That is, by the way, also how psychoanalysis works. You alter the PAST, not merely the present -- No one reads Homer anymore as he was read before the publication of 'Ulysses'. You can't do it." 

I have unsuccessfully tried to find an Eliot quote that supports Perl's claim that Eliot said that really new works of art alter the past. 

1) Does anyone have a quotation that supports Perl's claim?


On a related topic: In trying to find such an Eliot quote myself, I re-read the Eliot essay, "Ulysses, order, and myth" from November, 1923 (online at 

Eliot writes,

" The question, then, about Mr. Joyce, is: how much living material does he deal with, and how does he deal with it: deal with, not as a legislator or exhorter, but as an artist? It is here that Mr. Joyce’s parallel use of the Odyssey has a great importance. It has the importance of a scientific discovery . . . In using the myth, in manipulating a continuous parallel between contemporaneity and antiquity, Mr. Joyce is pursuing a method which others must pursue after him. They will not be imitators, any more than the scientist who uses the discoveries of an Einstein in pursuing his own, independent, further investigations. It is simply a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history. . . . It is a method for which the horoscope is auspicious. Psychology (such as it is, and whether our reaction to it be comic or serious), ethnology, and The Golden Bough have concurred to make possible what was impossible even a few years ago. Instead of narrative method, we may now use the mythical method. It is, I seriously believe, a step toward making the modern world possible for art. . ."

While most of this is clear to me, I am not sure what to make of the content and tone of Eliot's line referencing the horoscope.

2) Is he being sarcastic when he says "It is a method for which the horoscope is auspicious"?

Also from the above quote, Eliot writes, "Psychology . . , ethnology, and The Golden Bough have concurred to make possible what was impossible even a few years ago." 

3) Does anyone have a clear idea of how these three particular things make it "possible" to now (that is, post-1923) write in the "mythical method"?

-- Tom --