Dear David,

I don't see what is difficult about it, especially if one has read anything of the Reformation. And, as I noted, David Jones, who knew Eliot, did join the Catholic Church; it was very clearly not the Church of England, however "high" or "low."

>>> David Boyd 07/05/13 6:56 PM >>>

One of Eliot's good friends and spiritual mentors was Bro George Every,SSM, an Anglican monk.

George actually in later life jumped ship into Roman Catholicism, but that wasn't probably a very big leap for him, although for Eliot, a far more secular and social personage, that would have been almost unthinkable, especially, one suspects, as denial of the established order / the Established Church of England. I suspect that the concept of the latter is quite hard for the non-English to comprehend: John Betjeman embraced it all most eloquently and faithfully.

On 5 July 2013 23:42, David Boyd <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Nonconformists were 'Chapel Folk'; the Established Church I'm sure wouldn't have called them Protestant and themselves not. Aren't the roots of this in Reformation Europe, where I seem to remember the protestants other than Henry VIII & Co were doctrinal whereas his weren't at all.

On 5 July 2013 23:30, P <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

My Anglican Dad and several of his brothers & sisters said that they weren't protestant because Anglicans had nothing to protest. His father, and later one of his brothers, were parsons in Banff. They may well have been of the same mind; I just don't know for sure. They were all very staunchly Anglican, and very British in values and style. Call the men in the family tramped off to WWI. All returned. One sister was an Anglican Benedictine nun. I believe they saw the Anglican church as THE Catholic Church in England and RCs as just a sect. Fwiw, nowadays RCs tend, following John XXIII, to refer to non-RC Christians as 'our separated brethren'.

I believe Spurr distinguishes strongly between High Church as a matter of liturgical practice and Anglo Catholic as a renewal of both liturgical and creedal values. His is an admirable book, well worth reading.

I vaguely remember that non-conformists were referred to as protestants, to distinguish them from the Established Church. Not sure. If true, then an Anglican protestant is an Oxymoron.

Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Dear Eugene,

I wish the word "critics" would stop being treated as a monolithic term. In fact, very few Eliot scholars and critics retain this view of Eliot as having always had a single focus. It is true that early poetry went on about "the absolute," but that was not the same as the work after 1926.

I think it does matter, also, that nothing stopped him from joining the Roman Catholic church; he decided to join the Anglican Church, which, as David aptly points out, is Protestant. It is true that Eliot somewhere said he regarded it as the "Catholic Church in England" (from memory), but it is still not the Catholic Church, and he could just as well have chosen the latter, as did, for example, David Jones.

At the time of TWL, he said he considered becoming a Buddhist. There may be a longing for some absolute early and late, but the early work is not defined in the same terms as the late. One can agree or disagree with my reading of this, but it is a fact that there is not a single view promulgated by "critics."

Interestingly, Eliot at one point, I think early in WWI, described himself as a "liberal" and wrote for the Nation. Later he wrote home that his former friends did not approve of his changed positions. Like any serious (by which I do not mean necessarily correct) thinker, Eliot changed and developed. So have critical positions, and there was never only one.

>>> "[log in to unmask]" 07/05/13 4:08 PM >>>

I do not read the early poetry as a "desperate spiritual quest." I hear a very controlled albeit less spiritually experienced poet defining the parameters of the modern quest. Not desperation, not a "constant personal struggle of the poet with his inner demons."

Perhaps more attention should be paid to the public meaning of the words; despite Yeats' lyricism, critics seem incapable if separating the dancer from the dance.

Happy Fourth!

Eugene Schlanger

Sent from my iPhone

On Jul 5, 2013, at 1:03 PM, David Boyd <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

"....his conversion to Catholicism."

I hope not too pedantic to observe that this is not so. It was High Church Anglicanism to which Eliot converted, and there's a fundamental difference, mainly relating to that fellow in the Vatican, to whom Eliot was polite but not exactly reverential.

Barry Spurr's recent book explains at length.


- who's off to Little Gidding Festival, Sunday: if anyone on here going too, please do holler.

On 5 July 2013 17:33, Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Permit me, apropos the subject, to share a modified version of the preface I wrote for my book on Eliot's early poetry:

// The various attempts to find the fundamental axioms behind both good literature and good life, said Eliot, are among the most interesting experiments of criticism in our time.* And in 'Religion and Literature' (1935), he did not hold back to say that "literary criticism should be completed by criticism from a definite ethical and theological standpoint." The present book is a continuation of efforts in that direction. It unfolds layer after layer of Eliot's early poetry, specifically Prufrock 1917 and Poems 1920, to discover that it is here, for the first time perhaps, that the aesthetics of poetry has so subtly been wedded to the absolutes of a religious belief. 

The book is a concerted attempt to counter the widely prevalent but patently mistaken notion of Eliot's early poetry as something apart from his later poetry. For, despite the apparent differences between the two poetic modes, the leitmotif of Eliot's poetry, both early and later, remains the poet's desperate spiritual quest. In the early poetry what one envisages is that in the framework of symbolist aesthetics which commits the poet to the notion of impersonality, there is a constant personal struggle of the poet with his inner demons and, through this struggle, the poet works out a personal idiom, and a vision, with a spiritual orientation which finally culminates in his conversion to Catholicism. // 

(*I'm sorry I don't have the source at hand.) 

Well, so much has since been written on Eliot's early poetry that is in consonance with my views

(written in 2001).