Dear Tim and All,
I think this is fascinating--and not surprising if he preferred Paul--but it seems to me one more in a long line of mixed and contradictory messages. Eliot also said that the Incarnation "divided the world" or something like that. In any case, the "Ariel Poems" are largely about both doubt and recognition of Jesus. So I doubt there was any consistent and single belief.
If Gary Wills is right that much attributed to Paul is really later interpolation, we have another late irony.
>>> "Materer, Timothy J." 11/08/12 12:12 PM >>>
The TLS review is not available on line, but in looking I came across Adam Kirsch's review of V. 3.
Below is an excerpt with some acute remarks about Eliot's religion. I too had been struck by what he wrote to Aldington and also his review of Murry's book on Jesus. Is Kirsch on the right track? For me, it rather fits with one of Eliot's key ideas from Bradley, "degrees of truth."
But there is a remarkable admission, so quick you could easily miss it, in another letter to Aldington. “I agree with you about Christ and I do not disagree with anything else,” Eliot writes. The editors supply what Aldington had written: “Moreover, I don’t really like the gospels, and I don’t much like Christ. I really think Paul was more interesting. He appears to have been a man; I have suspected that . . . Christ is an invention.” Just at the
time Eliot is about to enter the Church, we find him apparently saying that he does not believe Christ existed and in any case that he doesn’t “like” Him.
Add to this what Eliot tells John Middleton Murry, an intellectual sparring partner who was one of his few real confidants: “You assume that truth changes – you accept as inevitable what appears to me to be within our own power. I am, in a way, a much more thoroughgoing pragmatist – but so thoroughgoing that I am sure there is nothing for it but to assume that there are fixed meanings, and that truth is always the same.” Eliot, a product of the
Harvard of William James, suggests that he is drawn to Christianity as a pragmatist – that is, because it “works” for him, not because he is convinced of its truth as a proposition.
On Nov 7, 2012, at 10:47 PM, Chokh Raj wrote:
Oops, I'm so sorry for the typo, it's Gabriel Josipovici. -- CR
There's a review in the Nov 2 Times Literary Supplement of The Letters of TS Eliot, Vol. 3 by Gabriel Josopovici. Here's a link to the Contents page:
Thought this might interest you.