Chapter

“The Sea's Throat”: T. S. Eliot's <i>Four Quartets</i>

Sharon Cameron

in Impersonality

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780226091310
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226091334 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226091334.003.0006
“The Sea's Throat”: T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets

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In “The Metaphysical Poets,” T. S. Eliot notes that the dissociation of voice from an individual entity is opposite to the “dissociation of sensibility.” Voice in Eliot's poem Four Quartets is unsettling because of the impression that propositions evolve which cannot be assigned to individual speakers, as if voiced propositions were emerging independently of speakers, though the latter supposition could not be true. Yet this way of phrasing it articulates the sense that while perceptions, memories, emotions are developed in relation to one another, they are not developed in relation to a motivating center. The poem as a whole represents experience and affect as independent of any person or entity to whom experience and affect could be referred. All voices are intermittent. Yet Eliot emphasizes the special case for the intermittency of voices in Four Quartets. This chapter examines one manifestation of compromised individuality exemplified by a set of centrally linked passages in Four Quartets.

Keywords: T. S. Eliot; Four Quartets; voices; sensibility; experience; affect; individuality

Chapter.  14357 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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