Yes, well, again, it is very much as if we use the same words and speak an entirely different language. I used to think you purposely mis-took (sic) my words, but I see now with, to be honest, lingering incredulity, that that is apparently not the case. Given the fact that everything I think I'm saying you take otherwise, I'm not sure there's much point, even should good will flood the project, in proceeding. Basically, I just don't know how to do it.

 For the general "you" who may not have run away from this thread, I'd just add that criticism, whatever today's or yesteryear's trends have been or will be, can be understood, or perhaps better, acknowledged to be the way Eliot understood philosophy, in this regard: the principles of criticism are unchanging; the view and language of criticism is always in flux and will always need to be restated for the current generation. But it is not progress. It is as Peter might like to say, putting today's language in touch with those principles.

 I'm not sure what Peter means about being a guinea pig, but sans lightning bolts of new inspiration and rather than going through each of your points to try to explain how I see each (differently), I leave the thread.

 Ken A

On 10/16/2013 11:31 PM, Nancy Gish wrote:
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Well here is where we find real disagreement. There may not be "progress in the arts" or in criticism, but in the latter there is certainly change and, where new material appears, there is essential reconsideration. Eliot is famous in part because he did take on new ways of reading, and did it convincingly. He never let himself be limited by the bounds of critics or poets fifty years before himself. It would be hard to find anyone less framed by accepting conventional wisdom, so applying it to him seems a genuine paradox.
If you are not, in fact, aiming your critiques at me, I don't know why they always turn up when I say anything, but whoever the "journalists" are, they are not whom I read. So I don't get the point. And most of the material I find so fascinatingly significant was not, as a matter of fact, available to critics then. All one need do is review the early major books on Eliot, and none of the recent material--the letters, IMH, The Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry, major biographies, Eliot's experiences in Paris, his itinerary in Italy, which Nancy Hargrove has found--it goes on and on--was accessible. Critics like Brooks, Drew, Gardner, Kenner, Leavis, Matthiesen, Smith, et. al., developed major insights we all build from, but they mainly took Eliot at his own word and wrote from assumptions of, say the notes, before Eliot--as an example--made that a real ambiguity. It is just not true that whatever was said without these sources is no different from what has come after, and it is hardly comparable to the kind of thinking Eliot himself did.
I don't think it is an issue of disadvantage (is the "you," this time, me?); it is an issue of changing knowledge. But of course I have also read them--and recently reread them to write the section on the reception of Eliot to 1965. It is not a matter of my "seeming to think" anything. Or as someone very famous once said, "We know so much more than the past, and they are what we know." (from memory) The same person who said the present changes the past as much as the past changes the present.