Article

Eliot, David Jones, and Auden

Stephen Medcalf

in The Oxford Handbook of English Literature and Theology

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199544486
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780198614128 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199544486.003.0031

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Eliot, David Jones, and Auden

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This article examines three of the greatest writers of Christian poetry in English during the twentieth century. They were converts of varying kinds, whose conversions were fundamentally involved with their special geniuses as poets. David Jones (1895–1973), whose conversion carried him least far, from a not very sacramental Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism, moved because of his understanding of symbolism. W. H. Auden (1907–73) returned, from Anglicanism through unbelief and Marxism, to Anglicanism again, through his awareness of inspiration, of guilt, and of what he learnt from Kierkegaard, to call the three stages of the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious. T. S. Eliot (1888–1965) moved in the widest arc, from Unitarianism, which in later life he did not count as Christian, through agnosticism and a close encounter with Buddhism, to Anglicanism at its most sacramental, by an engagement with time and consciousness that took him all his poetic life.

Keywords: Christian poetry; David Jones; Anglicanism; Roman Catholicism; W. H. Auden; Marxism; Kierkegaard; Unitarianism; agnosticism

Article.  10254 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Christianity ; Philosophy of Religion

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