Eliot's Legacy

Joseph Frank

in Responses to Modernity

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780823239252
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823239290 | DOI:
Eliot's Legacy

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To Criticize the Critic (1965) is a mixed bag of lectures on literary and sociocultural topics given by T. S. Eliot at various times between 1942 and 1961. Most of these essays overlap in date with those of Eliot's previous volume of criticism, On Poetry and Poets (1957), but for one reason or another they did not appear in that book. The non-literary pieces were probably excluded to preserve the unity of that work as literary criticism. Eliot's poetry, in his own opinion, was far more important than his essays in helping to turn the spotlight on such writers as John Donne and Jules Laforgue and elevating them to the status of major precursors of the modern. Speaking of the main influences on his early criticism, Eliot singles out the names of Ezra Pound and Irving Babbitt, and refers to “an infusion later of T. E. Hulme and of the more literary essays of Charles Maurras.” The two most important general ideas that Eliot launched into critical discussion were “the objective correlative” and “the dissociation of sensibility.”

Keywords: T. S. Eliot; literary criticism; Criticize the Critic; Ezra Pound; Irving Babbitt; objective correlative; dissociation of sensibility; poetry

Chapter.  3792 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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