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Well, it depends what is meant by "encouraging." I encourage everyone to read more poetry and more great literature of all kinds. That does not mean that it is encouraging to validate any statement, however unfounded. To do the latter is to lack respect for all those readers by treating them as unable to make distinctions and as expecting that anything anyone says is helpful or useful. I do not consider that either compassion or kindness, and I do not get the point of "incestuous" at all. There are so many Eliot scholars, it is difficult to find much of anything on which they agree in all ways except the importance of Eliot. We aren't in any danger of creating a small coterie who arbitrate.
 
One of the greatest pleasures of teaching is that my students, precisely because they come to poetry fresh, often see wonderful things I have not. But they are being taught to think about how those perceptions fit or do not into a reading and what that does for how we think about a text. They are not just randomly tossing out anything they imagine.
 
Whether Eliot was the major reason for 20th C interest in Dante or not is a historical question, one to be tested by historical evidence; it is not simply a personal opinion. And it is not even about original scholarship at all. As I noted, there are many books on Dante before that, so one would only need to read some, a form of research assumed at any level of study or reading before making pronouncements.
 
So as stated, I don't buy that.
 
According to Dominic Manganiello, when Eliot received the Dante gold medal in 1959, the Italian ambassador commended him "for restoring Dante to our contemporary consciousness and to the European tradition." He also notes that in the 19th C both Shelley and Matthew Arnold wrote on Dante: according to Shelley, Dante had displayed "the most glorious imagination of modern poetry."  He also points out, being a serious author, that "He [Eliot] has ruffled Dante scholars, who point out the limitations of his criticism, while others testify that his contribution to Dante studies surpasses that of Coleridge, Longfellow, and Norton"--in other words, Eliot's role is debated. And Manganiello also notes that Eliot "himself acknowledged in the Clark lectures [that one idea] derives from Santayana" and that "Santayana was one critic in the unbroken line of Dante scholarship at Harvard University." Those claims are part of a major book (T.S.Eliot and Dante, Macmillan, 1989) and one by an admirer but a very knowledgeable one, so readers here can follow up if they like. But its based in research, not just remarks.
 
There is no way offering such information is "incestuous" (whatever the sexual metaphor means); it is respecting the judgment of readers to consider alternatives and evidence. 
Nancy


>>> P <[log in to unmask]> 01/07/13 4:20 PM >>>
I'll buy that.
P. M.

"[log in to unmask]" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>I understand what Carrol is saying and I understand what Nancy has said about scholarship and, in my professional life, I live in a world where I often ask someone what is the basis for a statement he or she has just made; yet, I think encouraging everyone who reads poetry such as Eliot or Milton or Dante is something worth doing even if their opinions or pronouncements do not rise to the level of original scholarship.
>
>The alternative is incestuous.
>
>Eugene Schlanger
>
>Sent from my iPhone
>
>On Jan 6, 2013, at 1:05 PM, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> I meant my note as a footnote to yours. The book I was referring to is _Dante & Philosophy_ by Etienne Gilson. He 'takes off' from a book by a Domincan who spins a huge web on a very little peg, as do p & cr on this list. Probably the footnotes to Dorothy Sayers's translation are a fine source of knowledge of Dante by those not Dante scholars. (She does slip-- e.g., in her notes to Paradise 2 she confuses Dante's emphasis on sense perception with positivist science.)
>>
>> You are fighting a hopeless battle with those who confuse texts informed by Christian belief with acts of worship. Eliot probably knew the difference between writing a poem and sitting in a pew.
>>
>> Carrol
>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
>>> Behalf Of Nancy Gish
>>> Sent: Saturday, January 05, 2013 7:48 PM
>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>> Subject: Re: Dantean Aesthetics in 'The Waste Land'
>>>
>>> I could ask the same question of you. How do you know it was just Eliot's
>>> interest and not that Eliot also took up an interest others had expressed. It
>>> would take research to find out. Anyway, as of today, I think "popular" may
>>> not apply. For both, it is largely academics, students, and serious readers
>>> who really care about either. (Except in Italy I think, where people know
>>> about Dante and even know Dante--but that is not based on any statistics,
>>> just anecdote.)
>>>
>>> We know that Eliot always was attracted to Dante and carried Dante or Virgil
>>> around with him all the time. And he wrote first about Dante in 1920. But he
>>> was introduced early and others, like Pound, also were seriously interested in
>>> Dante. I would be interested in knowing just when and how Eliot took up the
>>> idea of writing about Dante--and not being the first. When young, by his own
>>> account, he preferred the "world" of Virgil. But I have the major book here by
>>> an Italian scholar on Eliot and Dante, so I'll see what that tells me.
>>>
>>> Random ideas without research tell us nothing of value. So do you know?
>>> And how? A history of Dante reception would seem to be the only real
>>> source that could tell us.
>>>
>>> N
>>>>>> P 01/05/13 8:16 PM >>>
>>> Not all things are measured by books.
>>> What would the popular awareness of Dante and the academic interest in
>>> him be without TWL?
>>> P. M.
>>>
>>> Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>> Not likely: here are only three of many books on Dante in the early 20th
>>> century published before Eliot's essays. There are more and easy to find in
>>> Google.
>>> N
>>>
>>> The Poetry of Dante <http://www.questia.com/library/685552/the-poetry-
>>> of-dante>
>>>
>>> Contributors:
>>>
>>> Benedetto Croce
>>> <http://www.questia.com/searchglobal?q=author!Benedetto%20Croce!AllW
>>> ords>
>>> Douglas Ainslie
>>> <http://www.questia.com/searchglobal?q=author!Douglas%20Ainslie!AllWo
>>> rds>
>>>
>>> Publisher:
>>> Henry Holt and Company
>>> <http://www.questia.com/searchglobal?q=publisher!Henry%20Holt%20and
>>> %20Company!AllWords> 1922
>>> Subjects:
>>> Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321--Criticism and Interpretation
>>> <http://www.questia.com/searchglobal?q=subject!Dante%20Alighieri%2C%2
>>> 01265-1321--Criticism%20and%20Interpretation!AllWords>
>>>
>>>
>>> Read now <http://www.questia.com/read/6257840/the-poetry-of-dante>
>>> ...pres-ence of God. It has been said of Dante"Paradiso," that it should not
>>> have...expressive ofaspiration for I know not what of divine and in­tangible,
>>> a saying which...fear andhope, of distress and joy. But Dante, when
>>> hecomposed the "Divine Comedy," was not inthis narrow condition of...
>>> 18.
>>> Dante, How to Know Him <http://www.questia.com/library/7562600/dante-
>>> how-to-know-him>
>>>
>>> Contributors:
>>>
>>> Alfred M. Brooks
>>> <http://www.questia.com/searchglobal?q=author!Alfred%20M.%20Brooks!A
>>> llWords>
>>>
>>> Publisher:
>>> Bobbs-Merrill
>>> <http://www.questia.com/searchglobal?q=publisher!Bobbs-
>>> Merrill!AllWords> 1916
>>> Subjects:
>>> Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321--Criticism and Interpretation
>>> <http://www.questia.com/searchglobal?q=subject!Dante%20Alighieri%2C%2
>>> 01265-1321--Criticism%20and%20Interpretation!AllWords>
>>>
>>>
>>> Read now <http://www.questia.com/read/56725215/dante-how-to-know-
>>> him>
>>> ...forever. This, in brief, is the system onwhich Dante represents God as
>>> dealing with man­kind...well as the greatest.TWO WAYS OF READING THE
>>> DIVINE COMEDYIn The Divine Comedy Dante relates an imagina­tive
>>> experience, but...
>>> 19.
>>> Dante & Aquinas <http://www.questia.com/library/109921/dante-aquinas>
>>>
>>> Contributors:
>>>
>>> Philip H. Wicksteed
>>> <http://www.questia.com/searchglobal?q=author!Philip%20H.%20Wicksteed
>>> !AllWords>
>>>
>>> Publisher:
>>> J. M. Dent & Sons
>>> <http://www.questia.com/searchglobal?q=publisher!J.%20M.%20Dent%20%
>>> 20%20Sons!AllWords> 1913
>>> Subjects:
>>> Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321
>>> <http://www.questia.com/searchglobal?q=subject!Dante%20Alighieri%2C%2
>>> 01265-1321!AllWords>
>>> Thomas, Aquinas, Saint, 1225?-1274
>>> <http://www.questia.com/searchglobal?q=subject!Thomas%2C%20Aquinas
>>> %2C%20Saint%2C%201225%3F-1274!AllWords>
>>> Philosophy, Medieval
>>> <http://www.questia.com/searchglobal?q=subject!Philosophy%2C%20Medie
>>> val!AllWords>
>>>
>>>
>>> Read now <http://www.questia.com/read/1004165/dante-aquinas>
>>> ...particularcase it is), more happy than in Dante's treatmentof what he
>>> regards as the...namely, of the humanwill.Aquinas and Dante are equally
>>> emphatic in theirinsistence...are impossible, and thevery idea of divine
>>> justice perishes.Many passages in the "Comedy" will occur tothe reader's
>>> mind in which Dante dwells upon this
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>>>> P 01/04/13 10:24 PM >>>
>>> Could it be said that Eliot, Virgil-like, led Dante into the 20th Century?
>>> P. M.
>>>
>>> Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>> The Poet in Transformation: Dantean Aesthetics in T.S. Eliot's The Waste
>>> Land (2012)
>>>
>>> By Jamie Berlin
>>>
>>> Abstract
>>>
>>>
>>> Dante was a seminal influence in T. S. Eliot’s poetry. Many scholars have
>>> acknowledged Eliot’s professed debt to Dante and have examined Eliot’s
>>> explicit imitations of Dante; however, few have pinpointed Dantean
>>> influences in non-explicit references to Dante, and few have credited the
>>> influence of a Dantean progress narrative across Eliot’s poem The Waste
>>> Land. This thesis broadly analyzes the principles of Dante’s aesthetic in the
>>> poem while analyzing the Sibyl, the Hanged Man, and the Prajapati parable
>>> for their relevance to Eliot’s aesthetic theory. When Dantean aesthetics and
>>> close readings of The Waste Land are compared with Eliot’s contemporary
>>> essays on art, a fuller view of the aspects of Dante’s fundamental influence
>>> emerges. In particular, the prominence of Dante in the sub-text of Eliot’s The
>>> Waste Land reveals the nature of their shared aesthetic—that art is a moral
>>> work by virtue of a spiritual transformation endured by the artist, which
>>> involves both a sacrifice of self and a substantiation of self. A deeper
>>> examination of Dante’s influence on T. S. Eliot yields a vaster understanding
>>> of Eliot’s aesthetics while helping to elucidate one of the central mysteries in
>>> Eliot’s theory of art, the role of “personality.”
>>>
>>>
>>> http://commons.emich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1794&context=these
>>> s
>>>
>>>
>>> CR
>>>
>>>
>>> CR