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The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot: The Critical Edition Vol. 3: Literature, Politics, Belief, 1927-1929

Preface to dante.

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Dante , by T. S. Eliot. London: Faber and Faber, 1929. Pp. 69; Preface, 11-13.

If my task had been to produce another brief “introduction to the study of Dante” I should have been incompetent to perform it. But in a series of essays of “Poets on Poets” the undertaking, as I understand it, is quite a different one. A contemporary writer of verse, in writing a pamphlet of this description, is required only to give a faithful account of his acquaintance with the poet of whom he writes. This, and no more, I can do; and this is the only way in which I can treat an author of whom so much has been written, that can make any pretence to novelty. I have found no other poet than Dante to whom I could apply continually, for many purposes, and with much profit, during a familiarity of twenty years. I am not a Dante scholar; my Italian is chiefly self-taught, and learnt primarily in order to read Dante; I need still to make constant reference to translations. Yet it has occurred to me that by relating the process of my own gradual and still very imperfect knowledge of Dante, I might give some help to persons who must begin where I began – with a public school knowledge of Latin, a traveller’s smattering of Italian, and a literal translation beside the text. For this reason my order, in the following chapters, is the order of my own initiation. I begin with detail, and approach the general scheme. I began myself with passages of the Inferno which I could understand, passed on to the Purgatorio in the same way, and only after years of experience began to appreciate the Paradiso ; from which I reverted to the other parts of the poem and slowly realized the unity of the whole. I believe that it is quite natural and right to tackle the Vita Nuova afterwards. For an English reader who reads the Vita Nuova too soon is in danger of reading it under Pre-Raphaelite influence. 2

My purpose has been to persuade the reader first of the importance of Dante as a master – I may even say, the master – for a poet writing to-day in any language. And there ensues from that, the importance of Dante to anyone who would appreciate modern poetry, in any language. I should not trust the opinion of anyone who pretended to judge modern verse without knowing Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare. It does not in the least follow that a poet is negligible because he does not know these three.

Having thus excused this book, I do not feel called upon to give any bibliography. Anyone can easily discover more Dante bibliography than anyone can use. But I should like to mention one book which has been of use to me: the Dante of Professor Charles Grandgent of Harvard. 3 I owe something to an essay by Mr. Ezra Pound in his Spirit of Romance , 4 but more to his table-talk; and I owe something to Mr. Santayana’s essay in Three Philosophical Poets . 5 And one should at least glance at the Readings of W. W. Vernon in order to see how far into mediaeval philosophy, theology, science, and literature a thorough study of Dante must go. 6

The reader whom I have kept in mind, in writing this essay, is the reader who commences his reading of Dante with Messrs. Dent’s invaluable Temple Classics edition (3 volumes at 2s. each). 7 For this reason I have in quotations followed the Temple Classics edition text, and have followed pretty closely the translation in the same volumes. It is hardly necessary to say that where my version varies it nowhere pretends to greater accuracy than that excellent translation. Anyone who reads my essay before attempting Dante at all will be likely to turn next to the Temple Classics edition, with its text and translation on opposite pages. There is something to be said for Longfellow’s, and something for Norton’s translation...

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“T. S. Eliot, Dante and the Poetics of a “Unified Sensibility”, T. S. Eliot, Dante and the Idea of Europe. Ed. Paul Douglass. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011, 15-28. ISBN (10): 1-4438-2878-5

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A valuable and timely collection of essays that illuminates and deepens our understanding of Eliot's lifelong creative debt to Dante, bringing an impressive array of texts and traditions-Eastern and Western, medieval and postmodern-to bear upon Dante's dynamic, tutelary presence, not only in Eliot's work, but in the innovations of modern literatura throughout Europe and America. It is a great service to scholarship and teaching to bring together so many lucid and thoughtful essays by both established scholars and nevv voices. The essays collected here vvill enjoy a vvide and continued readership.

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Issue Cover

Article Contents

  • i. ‘contemplation’ in bernard of clairvaux and dante
  • ii. a poetry of exploration
  • iii. bernard, dante, and eliot: a genealogy?
  • iv. conclusion
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Dante in T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets : Vision, Mysticism, and the Mind’s Journey to God

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Anna Aresi, Dante in T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets : Vision, Mysticism, and the Mind’s Journey to God, Literature and Theology , Volume 30, Issue 4, December 2016, Pages 398–409,

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This article develops a parallel reading of select passages from Eliot's Four Quartets and Dante's Comedy , highlighting a new relation between the two works. Since the structure of Dante's journey is best understood through the work of Bernard of Clairvaux, the article begins with a brief exposition of Bernard's theory of contemplation and the role it plays in Dante. Once the structure at work in Dante's Comedy becomes apparent, it is possible to observe the same structure at work in Four Quartets . In the second part of the article, on this basis, I propose my reading of the two works, arguing that, like the Comedy , the Quartets is an intellectual and spiritual journey starting from a basis in material reality and arriving, through philosophy and by grace, at the contemplation of the divine.

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The Sacred Wood

“Intravit pinacothecam senex canus, exercitati vultus et qui videretur nescio quid magnum promittere, sed cultu non proinde speciosus, et facile appareret eum ex hac nota litteratum esse, quos odisse divites solent ... 'ego’ inquit 'poeta sum et ut spero, non humillimi spiritus, si modo coronis aliquid credendum est, quas etiam ad immeritos deferre gratia solet.’”— Petronius.

“I also like to dine on becaficas.”

“Tacuit Et Fecit”

vii Certain of these essays appeared, in the same or a more primitive form, in The Times Literary Supplement , The Athenæum , Art and Letters , and The Egoist . The author desires to express his obligation to the editors of these periodicals.


To anyone who is at all capable of experiencing the pleasures of justice, it is gratifying to be able to make amends to a writer whom one has vaguely depreciated for some years. The faults and foibles of Matthew Arnold are no less evident to me now than twelve years ago, after my first admiration for him; but I hope that now, on re-reading some of his prose with more care, I can better appreciate his position. And what makes Arnold seem all the more remarkable is, that if he were our exact contemporary, he would find all his labour to perform again. A moderate number of persons have engaged in what is called “critical” writing, but no conclusion is any more solidly established than it was in 1865. In the first essay in the first Essays in Criticism we read that

it has long seemed to me that the burst of creative activity in our literature, through the first quarter of this century, had about it in fact something premature; and that from this cause its productions are doomed, most of them, in spite of the sanguine hopes which accompanied and do still accompany them, to prove x hardly more lasting than the productions of far less splendid epochs. And this prematureness comes from its having proceeded without having its proper data, without sufficient material to work with. In other words, the English poetry of the first quarter of this century, with plenty of energy, plenty of creative force, did not know enough. This makes Byron so empty of matter, Shelley so incoherent, Wordsworth even, profound as he is, yet so wanting in completeness and variety.

This judgment of the Romantic Generation has not, so far as I know, ever been successfully controverted; and it has not, so far as I know, ever made very much impression on popular opinion. Once a poet is accepted, his reputation is seldom disturbed, for better or worse. So little impression has Arnold’s opinion made, that his statement will probably be as true of the first quarter of the twentieth century as it was of the nineteenth. A few sentences later, Arnold articulates the nature of the malady:

In the Greece of Pindar and Sophocles, in the England of Shakespeare, the poet lived in a current of ideas in the highest degree animating and nourishing to the creative power; society was, in the fullest measure, permeated by fresh thought, intelligent and alive; and this state of things is the true basis for the creative power’s exercise, in this it finds its data, its materials, truly ready for its hand; all the books and reading in the world are only valuable as they are helps to this.

At this point Arnold is indicating the centre of interest xi and activity of the critical intelligence; and it is at this perception, we may almost say, that Arnold’s critical activity stopped. In a society in which the arts were seriously studied, in which the art of writing was respected, Arnold might have become a critic. How astonishing it would be, if a man like Arnold had concerned himself with the art of the novel, had compared Thackeray with Flaubert, had analysed the work of Dickens, had shown his contemporaries exactly why the author of Amos Barton is a more serious writer than Dickens, and why the author of La Chartreuse de Parma is more serious than either? In Culture and Anarchy , in Literature and Dogma , Arnold was not occupied so much in establishing a criticism as in attacking the uncritical. The difference is that while in constructive work something can be done, destructive work must incessantly be repeated; and furthermore Arnold, in his destruction, went for game outside of the literary preserve altogether, much of it political game untouched and inviolable by ideas. This activity of Arnold’s we must regret; it might perhaps have been carried on as effectively, if not quite so neatly, by some disciple (had there been one) in an editorial position on a newspaper. Arnold is not to be blamed: he wasted his strength, as men of superior ability sometimes do, because he saw something to be done and no one else to do it. The temptation, to any man who is interested in ideas and primarily in literature, to put literature into the corner xii until he has cleaned up the whole country first, is almost irresistible. Some persons, like Mr. Wells and Mr. Chesterton, have succeeded so well in this latter profession of setting the house in order, and have attracted so much more attention than Arnold, that we must conclude that it is indeed their proper rôle, and that they have done well for themselves in laying literature aside.

Not only is the critic tempted outside of criticism. The criticism proper betrays such poverty of ideas and such atrophy of sensibility that men who ought to preserve their critical ability for the improvement of their own creative work are tempted into criticism. I do not intend from this the usually silly inference that the “Creative” gift is “higher” than the critical. When one creative mind is better than another, the reason often is that the better is the more critical. But the great bulk of the work of criticism could be done by minds of the second order, and it is just these minds of the second order that are difficult to find. They are necessary for the rapid circulation of ideas. The periodical press—the ideal literary periodical—is an instrument of transport; and the literary periodical press is dependent upon the existence of a sufficient number of second-order (I do not say “second-rate,” the word is too derogatory) minds to supply its material. These minds are necessary for that “current of ideas,” that “society permeated by fresh thought,” of which Arnold speaks.

xiii It is a perpetual heresy of English culture to believe that only the first-order mind, the Genius, the Great Man, matters; that he is solitary, and produced best in the least favourable environment, perhaps the Public School; and that it is most likely a sign of inferiority that Paris can show so many minds of the second order. If too much bad verse is published in London, it does not occur to us to raise our standards, to do anything to educate the poetasters; the remedy is, Kill them off. I quote from Mr. Edmund Gosse: [1]

Unless something is done to stem this flood of poetastry the art of verse will become not merely superfluous, but ridiculous. Poetry is not a formula which a thousand flappers and hobbledehoys ought to be able to master in a week without any training, and the mere fact that it seems to be now practised with such universal ease is enough to prove that something has gone amiss with our standards.... This is all wrong, and will lead us down into the abyss like so many Gadarene swine unless we resist it.

We quite agree that poetry is not a formula. But what does Mr. Gosse propose to do about it? If Mr. Gosse had found himself in the flood of poetastry in the reign of Elizabeth, what would he have done about it? would he have stemmed it? What exactly is this abyss? and if something “has gone amiss with our standards,” is it wholly the fault of the younger generation that it is aware of no authority that it must respect? It is part of the business of the critic to xiv preserve tradition—where a good tradition exists. It is part of his business to see literature steadily and to see it whole; and this is eminently to see it not as consecrated by time, but to see it beyond time; to see the best work of our time and the best work of twenty-five hundred years ago with the same eyes. [2] It is part of his business to help the poetaster to understand his own limitations. The poetaster who understands his own limitations will be one of our useful second-order minds; a good minor poet (something which is very rare) or another good critic. As for the first-order minds, when they happen, they will be none the worse off for a “current of ideas”; the solitude with which they will always and everywhere be invested is a very different thing from isolation, or a monarchy of death.

Note. —I may commend as a model to critics who desire to correct some of the poetical vagaries of the present age, the following passage from a writer who cannot be accused of flaccid leniency, and the justice of whose criticism must be acknowledged even by those who feel a strong partiality toward the school of poets criticized:—

“Yet great labour, directed by great abilities, is never wholly lost; if they frequently threw away their wit upon false conceits, they likewise sometimes struck out unexpected truth: if their conceits were far-fetched, xv they were often worth the carriage. To write on their plan, it was at least necessary to read and think. No man could be born a metaphysical poet, nor assume the dignity of a writer, by descriptions copied from descriptions, by imitations borrowed from imitations, by traditional imagery, and hereditary similes, by readiness of rhyme, and volubility of syllables.

“In perusing the works of this race of authors, the mind is exercised either by recollection or inquiry: something already learned is to be retrieved, or something new is to be examined. If their greatness seldom elevates, their acuteness often surprises; if the imagination is not always gratified, at least the powers of reflection and comparison are employed; and in the mass of materials which ingenious absurdity has thrown together, genuine wit and useful knowledge may be sometimes found buried perhaps in grossness of expression, but useful to those who know their value; and such as, when they are expanded to perspicuity, and polished to elegance, may give lustre to works which have more propriety though less copiousness of sentiment.”— Johnson , Life of Cowley .

The Perfect Critic

“Eriger en lois ses impressions personnelles, c’est le grand effort d’un homme s’il est sincère.”— Lettres à l’Amazone.

Coleridge was perhaps the greatest of English critics, and in a sense the last. After Coleridge we have Matthew Arnold; but Arnold—I think it will be conceded—was rather a propagandist for criticism than a critic, a popularizer rather than a creator of ideas. So long as this island remains an island (and we are no nearer the Continent than were Arnold’s contemporaries) the work of Arnold will be important; it is still a bridge across the Channel, and it will always have been good sense. Since Arnold’s attempt to correct his countrymen, English criticism has followed two directions. When a distinguished critic observed recently, in a newspaper article, that “poetry is the most highly organized form of intellectual activity,” we were conscious that we were reading neither Coleridge nor Arnold. Not only have the words “organized” and “activity,” occurring together in this phrase, that familiar vague suggestion of the scientific vocabulary which is characteristic of modern writing, but one asked 2 questions which Coleridge and Arnold would not have permitted one to ask. How is it, for instance, that poetry is more “highly organized” than astronomy, physics, or pure mathematics, which we imagine to be, in relation to the scientist who practises them, “intellectual activity” of a pretty highly organized type? “Mere strings of words,” our critic continues with felicity and truth, “flung like dabs of paint across a blank canvas, may awaken surprise ... but have no significance whatever in the history of literature.” The phrases by which Arnold is best known may be inadequate, they may assemble more doubts than they dispel, but they usually have some meaning. And if a phrase like “the most highly organized form of intellectual activity” is the highest organization of thought of which contemporary criticism, in a distinguished representative, is capable, then, we conclude, modern criticism is degenerate.

The verbal disease above noticed may be reserved for diagnosis by and by. It is not a disease from which Mr. Arthur Symons (for the quotation was, of course, not from Mr. Symons) notably suffers. Mr. Symons represents the other tendency; he is a representative of what is always called “æsthetic criticism” or “impressionistic criticism.” And it is this form of criticism which I propose to examine at once. Mr. Symons, the critical successor of Pater, and partly of Swinburne (I fancy that the phrase “sick or sorry” is the common property of all three), is the “impressionistic critic.” He, if anyone, would be said to expose a sensitive and cultivated mind—cultivated, that is, by the accumulation of a considerable variety of impressions from all the arts and several languages—before 3 an “object”; and his criticism, if anyone’s, would be said to exhibit to us, like the plate, the faithful record of the impressions, more numerous or more refined than our own, upon a mind more sensitive than our own. A record, we observe, which is also an interpretation, a translation; for it must itself impose impressions upon us, and these impressions are as much created as transmitted by the criticism. I do not say at once that this is Mr. Symons; but it is the “impressionistic” critic, and the impressionistic critic is supposed to be Mr. Symons.

At hand is a volume which we may test. [3] Ten of these thirteen essays deal with single plays of Shakespeare, and it is therefore fair to take one of these ten as a specimen of the book:

Antony and Cleopatra is the most wonderful, I think, of all Shakespeare’s plays....

and Mr. Symons reflects that Cleopatra is the most wonderful of all women:

The queen who ends the dynasty of the Ptolemies has been the star of poets, a malign star shedding baleful light, from Horace and Propertius down to Victor Hugo; and it is not to poets only....

What, we ask, is this for? as a page on Cleopatra, and on her possible origin in the dark lady of the Sonnets, unfolds itself. And we find, gradually, that this is not an essay on a work of art or a work of intellect; but that Mr. Symons is living through the play as one might live it through in the theatre; recounting, commenting:

In her last days Cleopatra touches a certain elevation ... 4 she would die a thousand times, rather than live to be a mockery and a scorn in men’s mouths ... she is a woman to the last ... so she dies ... the play ends with a touch of grave pity ...

Presented in this rather unfair way, torn apart like the leaves of an artichoke, the impressions of Mr. Symons come to resemble a common type of popular literary lecture, in which the stories of plays or novels are retold, the motives of the characters set forth, and the work of art therefore made easier for the beginner. But this is not Mr. Symons’ reason for writing. The reason why we find a similarity between his essay and this form of education is that Antony and Cleopatra is a play with which we are pretty well acquainted, and of which we have, therefore, our own impressions. We can please ourselves with our own impressions of the characters and their emotions; and we do not find the impressions of another person, however sensitive, very significant. But if we can recall the time when we were ignorant of the French symbolists, and met with The Symbolist Movement in Literature , we remember that book as an introduction to wholly new feelings, as a revelation. After we have read Verlaine and Laforgue and Rimbaud and return to Mr. Symons’ book, we may find that our own impressions dissent from his. The book has not, perhaps, a permanent value for the one reader, but it has led to results of permanent importance for him.

The question is not whether Mr. Symons’ impressions are “true” or “false.” So far as you can isolate the “impression,” the pure feeling, it is, of course, neither true nor false. The point is that you never rest at 5 the pure feeling; you react in one of two ways, or, as I believe Mr. Symons does, in a mixture of the two ways. The moment you try to put the impressions into words, you either begin to analyse and construct, to “ériger en lois,” or you begin to create something else. It is significant that Swinburne, by whose poetry Mr. Symons may at one time have been influenced, is one man in his poetry and a different man in his criticism; to this extent and in this respect only, that he is satisfying a different impulse; he is criticizing, expounding, arranging. You may say this is not the criticism of a critic, that it is emotional, not intellectual—though of this there are two opinions, but it is in the direction of analysis and construction, a beginning to “ériger en lois,” and not in the direction of creation. So I infer that Swinburne found an adequate outlet for the creative impulse in his poetry; and none of it was forced back and out through his critical prose. The style of the latter is essentially a prose style; and Mr. Symons’ prose is much more like Swinburne’s poetry than it is like his prose. I imagine—though here one’s thought is moving in almost complete darkness—that Mr. Symons is far more disturbed, far more profoundly affected, by his reading than was Swinburne, who responded rather by a violent and immediate and comprehensive burst of admiration which may have left him internally unchanged. The disturbance in Mr. Symons is almost, but not quite, to the point of creating; the reading sometimes fecundates his emotions to produce something new which is not criticism, but is not the expulsion, the ejection, the birth of creativeness.

The type is not uncommon, although Mr. Symons 6 is far superior to most of the type. Some writers are essentially of the type that reacts in excess of the stimulus, making something new out of the impressions, but suffer from a defect of vitality or an obscure obstruction which prevents nature from taking its course. Their sensibility alters the object, but never transforms it. Their reaction is that of the ordinary emotional person developed to an exceptional degree. For this ordinary emotional person, experiencing a work of art, has a mixed critical and creative reaction. It is made up of comment and opinion, and also new emotions which are vaguely applied to his own life. The sentimental person, in whom a work of art arouses all sorts of emotions which have nothing to do with that work of art whatever, but are accidents of personal association, is an incomplete artist. For in an artist these suggestions made by a work of art, which are purely personal, become fused with a multitude of other suggestions from multitudinous experience, and result in the production of a new object which is no longer purely personal, because it is a work of art itself.

It would be rash to speculate, and is perhaps impossible to determine, what is unfulfilled in Mr. Symons’ charming verse that overflows into his critical prose. Certainly we may say that in Swinburne’s verse the circuit of impression and expression is complete; and Swinburne was therefore able, in his criticism, to be more a critic than Mr. Symons. This gives us an intimation why the artist is—each within his own limitations—oftenest to be depended upon as a critic; his criticism will be 7 criticism, and not the satisfaction of a suppressed creative wish—which, in most other persons, is apt to interfere fatally.

Before considering what the proper critical reaction of artistic sensibility is, how far criticism is “feeling” and how far “thought,” and what sort of “thought” is permitted, it may be instructive to prod a little into that other temperament, so different from Mr. Symons’, which issues in generalities such as that quoted near the beginning of this article.

“L’écrivain de style abstrait est presque toujours un sentimental, du moins un sensitif. L’écrivain artiste n’est presque jamais un sentimental, et très rarement un sensitif”— Le Problème du Style.

The statement already quoted, that “poetry is the most highly organized form of intellectual activity,” may be taken as a specimen of the abstract style in criticism. The confused distinction which exists in most heads between “abstract” and “concrete” is due not so much to a manifest fact of the existence of two types of mind, an abstract and a concrete, as to the existence of another type of mind, the verbal, or philosophic. I, of course, do not imply any general condemnation of philosophy; I am, for the moment, using the word “philosophic” to cover the unscientific ingredients of philosophy; to cover, in fact, the greater part of the philosophic output of the last hundred years. There are two ways in which a word may be “abstract.” It may have (the word “activity,” for example) a meaning which cannot 8 be grasped by appeal to any of the senses; its apprehension may require a deliberate suppression of analogies of visual or muscular experience, which is none the less an effort of imagination. “Activity” will mean for the trained scientist, if he employ the term, either nothing at all or something still more exact than anything it suggests to us. If we are allowed to accept certain remarks of Pascal and Mr. Bertrand Russell about mathematics, we believe that the mathematician deals with objects—if he will permit us to call them objects—which directly affect his sensibility. And during a good part of history the philosopher endeavoured to deal with objects which he believed to be of the same exactness as the mathematician’s. Finally Hegel arrived, and if not perhaps the first, he was certainly the most prodigious exponent of emotional systematization, dealing with his emotions as if they were definite objects which had aroused those emotions. His followers have as a rule taken for granted that words have definite meanings, overlooking the tendency of words to become indefinite emotions. (No one who had not witnessed the event could imagine the conviction in the tone of Professor Eucken as he pounded the table and exclaimed Was ist Geist? Geist ist ... ) If verbalism were confined to professional philosophers, no harm would be done. But their corruption has extended very far. Compare a mediæval theologian or mystic, compare a seventeenth-century preacher, with any “liberal” sermon since Schleiermacher, and you will observe that words have changed their meanings. What they have lost is definite, and what they have gained is indefinite.

9 The vast accumulations of knowledge—or at least of information—deposited by the nineteenth century have been responsible for an equally vast ignorance. When there is so much to be known, when there are so many fields of knowledge in which the same words are used with different meanings, when every one knows a little about a great many things, it becomes increasingly difficult for anyone to know whether he knows what he is talking about or not. And when we do not know, or when we do not know enough, we tend always to substitute emotions for thoughts. The sentence so frequently quoted in this essay will serve for an example of this process as well as any, and may be profitably contrasted with the opening phrases of the Posterior Analytics . Not only all knowledge, but all feeling, is in perception. The inventor of poetry as the most highly organized form of intellectual activity was not engaged in perceiving when he composed this definition; he had nothing to be aware of except his own emotion about “poetry.” He was, in fact, absorbed in a very different “activity” not only from that of Mr. Symons, but from that of Aristotle.

Aristotle is a person who has suffered from the adherence of persons who must be regarded less as his disciples than as his sectaries. One must be firmly distrustful of accepting Aristotle in a canonical spirit; this is to lose the whole living force of him. He was primarily a man of not only remarkable but universal intelligence; and universal intelligence means that he could apply his intelligence to anything. The ordinary intelligence is good only for certain classes of objects; a brilliant man of science, 10 if he is interested in poetry at all, may conceive grotesque judgments: like one poet because he reminds him of himself, or another because he expresses emotions which he admires; he may use art, in fact, as the outlet for the egotism which is suppressed in his own speciality. But Aristotle had none of these impure desires to satisfy; in whatever sphere of interest, he looked solely and steadfastly at the object; in his short and broken treatise he provides an eternal example—not of laws, or even of method, for there is no method except to be very intelligent, but of intelligence itself swiftly operating the analysis of sensation to the point of principle and definition.

It is far less Aristotle than Horace who has been the model for criticism up to the nineteenth century. A precept, such as Horace or Boileau gives us, is merely an unfinished analysis. It appears as a law, a rule, because it does not appear in its most general form; it is empirical. When we understand necessity, as Spinoza knew, we are free because we assent. The dogmatic critic, who lays down a rule, who affirms a value, has left his labour incomplete. Such statements may often be justifiable as a saving of time; but in matters of great importance the critic must not coerce, and he must not make judgments of worse and better. He must simply elucidate: the reader will form the correct judgment for himself.

And again, the purely “technical” critic—the critic, that is, who writes to expound some novelty or impart some lesson to practitioners of an art—can be called a critic only in a narrow sense. He may be analysing perceptions and the means for arousing perceptions, 11 but his aim is limited and is not the disinterested exercise of intelligence. The narrowness of the aim makes easier the detection of the merit or feebleness of the work; even of these writers there are very few—so that their “criticism” is of great importance within its limits. So much suffices for Campion. Dryden is far more disinterested; he displays much free intelligence; and yet even Dryden—or any literary critic of the seventeenth century—is not quite a free mind, compared, for instance, with such a mind as Rochefoucauld’s. There is always a tendency to legislate rather than to inquire, to revise accepted laws, even to overturn, but to reconstruct out of the same material. And the free intelligence is that which is wholly devoted to inquiry.

Coleridge, again, whose natural abilities, and some of whose performances, are probably more remarkable than those of any other modern critic, cannot be estimated as an intelligence completely free. The nature of the restraint in his case is quite different from that which limited the seventeenth-century critics, and is much more personal. Coleridge’s metaphysical interest was quite genuine, and was, like most metaphysical interest, an affair of his emotions. But a literary critic should have no emotions except those immediately provoked by a work of art—and these (as I have already hinted) are, when valid, perhaps not to be called emotions at all. Coleridge is apt to take leave of the data of criticism, and arouse the suspicion that he has been diverted into a metaphysical hare-and-hounds. His end does not always appear to be the return to the work of art with improved perception and intensified, because 12 more conscious, enjoyment; his centre of interest changes, his feelings are impure. In the derogatory sense he is more “philosophic” than Aristotle. For everything that Aristotle says illuminates the literature which is the occasion for saying it; but Coleridge only now and then. It is one more instance of the pernicious effect of emotion.

Aristotle had what is called the scientific mind—a mind which, as it is rarely found among scientists except in fragments, might better be called the intelligent mind. For there is no other intelligence than this, and so far as artists and men of letters are intelligent (we may doubt whether the level of intelligence among men of letters is as high as among men of science) their intelligence is of this kind. Sainte-Beuve was a physiologist by training; but it is probable that his mind, like that of the ordinary scientific specialist, was limited in its interest, and that this was not, primarily, an interest in art. If he was a critic, there is no doubt that he was a very good one; but we may conclude that he earned some other name. Of all modern critics, perhaps Remy de Gourmont had most of the general intelligence of Aristotle. An amateur, though an excessively able amateur, in physiology, he combined to a remarkable degree sensitiveness, erudition, sense of fact and sense of history, and generalizing power.

We assume the gift of a superior sensibility. And for sensibility wide and profound reading does not mean merely a more extended pasture. There is not merely an increase of understanding, leaving the original acute impression unchanged. The new impressions modify the impressions received from the 13 objects already known. An impression needs to be constantly refreshed by new impressions in order that it may persist at all; it needs to take its place in a system of impressions. And this system tends to become articulate in a generalized statement of literary beauty.

There are, for instance, many scattered lines and tercets in the Divine Comedy which are capable of transporting even a quite uninitiated reader, just sufficiently acquainted with the roots of the language to decipher the meaning, to an impression of overpowering beauty. This impression may be so deep that no subsequent study and understanding will intensify it. But at this point the impression is emotional; the reader in the ignorance which we postulate is unable to distinguish the poetry from an emotional state aroused in himself by the poetry, a state which may be merely an indulgence of his own emotions. The poetry may be an accidental stimulus. The end of the enjoyment of poetry is a pure contemplation from which all the accidents of personal emotion are removed; thus we aim to see the object as it really is and find a meaning for the words of Arnold. And without a labour which is largely a labour of the intelligence, we are unable to attain that stage of vision amor intellectualis Dei .

Such considerations, cast in this general form, may appear commonplaces. But I believe that it is always opportune to call attention to the torpid superstition that appreciation is one thing, and “intellectual” criticism something else. Appreciation in popular psychology is one faculty, and criticism another, an arid cleverness building theoretical scaffolds upon 14 one’s own perceptions or those of others. On the contrary, the true generalization is not something superposed upon an accumulation of perceptions; the perceptions do not, in a really appreciative mind, accumulate as a mass, but form themselves as a structure; and criticism is the statement in language of this structure; it is a development of sensibility. The bad criticism, on the other hand, is that which is nothing but an expression of emotion. And emotional people—such as stockbrokers, politicians, men of science—and a few people who pride themselves on being unemotional—detest or applaud great writers such as Spinoza or Stendhal because of their “frigidity.”

The writer of the present essay once committed himself to the statement that “The poetic critic is criticizing poetry in order to create poetry.” He is now inclined to believe that the “historical” and the “philosophical” critics had better be called historians and philosophers quite simply. As for the rest, there are merely various degrees of intelligence. It is fatuous to say that criticism is for the sake of “creation” or creation for the sake of criticism. It is also fatuous to assume that there are ages of criticism and ages of creativeness, as if by plunging ourselves into intellectual darkness we were in better hope of finding spiritual light. The two directions of sensibility are complementary; and as sensibility is rare, unpopular, and desirable, it is to be expected that the critic and the creative artist should frequently be the same person.

Imperfect Critics

Swinburne as critic.

Three conclusions at least issue from the perusal of Swinburne’s critical essays: Swinburne had mastered his material, was more inward with the Tudor-Stuart dramatists than any man of pure letters before or since; he is a more reliable guide to them than Hazlitt, Coleridge, or Lamb; and his perception of relative values is almost always correct. Against these merits we may oppose two objections: the style is the prose style of Swinburne, and the content is not, in an exact sense, criticism. The faults of style are, of course, personal; the tumultuous outcry of adjectives, the headstrong rush of undisciplined sentences, are the index to the impatience and perhaps laziness of a disorderly mind. But the style has one positive merit: it allows us to know that Swinburne was writing not to establish a critical reputation, not to instruct a docile public, but as a poet his notes upon poets whom he admired. And whatever our opinion of Swinburne’s verse, the notes upon poets by a poet of Swinburne’s dimensions must be read with attention and respect.

In saying that Swinburne’s essays have the value of notes of an important poet upon important poets, we must place a check upon our expectancy. He read everything, and he read with the single interest in 16 finding literature. The critics of the romantic period were pioneers, and exhibit the fallibility of discoverers. The selections of Lamb are a successful effort of good taste, but anyone who has referred to them after a thorough reading of any of the poets included must have found that some of the best passages—which must literally have stared Lamb in the face—are omitted, while sometimes others of less value are included. Hazlitt, who committed himself to the judgment that the Maid’s Tragedy is one of the poorest of Beaumont and Fletcher’s plays, has no connected message to deliver. Coleridge’s remarks—too few and scattered—have permanent truth; but on some of the greatest names he passes no remark, and of some of the best plays was perhaps ignorant or ill-informed. But compared with Swinburne, Coleridge writes much more as a poet might be expected to write about poets. Of Massinger’s verse Swinburne says:

It is more serviceable, more businesslike, more eloquently practical, and more rhetorically effusive—but never effusive beyond the bounds of effective rhetoric—than the style of any Shakespearean or of any Jonsonian dramatist.

It is impossible to tell whether Webster would have found the style of Massinger more “serviceable” than his own for the last act of the White Devil , and indeed difficult to decide what “serviceable” here means; but it is quite clear what Coleridge means when he says that Massinger’s style

is much more easily constructed [than Shakespeare’s], and may be more successfully adopted by writers in the present day.

17 Coleridge is writing as a professional with his eye on the technique. I do not know from what writing of Coleridge Swinburne draws the assertion that “Massinger often deals in exaggerated passion,” but in the essay from which Swinburne quotes elsewhere Coleridge merely speaks of the “unnaturally irrational passions,” a phrase much more defensible. Upon the whole, the two poets are in harmony upon the subject of Massinger; and although Coleridge has said more in five pages, and said it more clearly, than Swinburne in thirty-nine, the essay of Swinburne is by no means otiose: it is more stimulating than Coleridge’s, and the stimulation is never misleading. With all his superlatives, his judgment, if carefully scrutinized, appears temperate and just.

With all his justness of judgment, however, Swinburne is an appreciator and not a critic. In the whole range of literature covered, Swinburne makes hardly more than two judgments which can be reversed or even questioned: one, that Lyly is insignificant as a dramatist, and the other, that Shirley was probably unaffected by Webster. The Cardinal is not a cast of the Duchess of Malfi , certainly; but when Shirley wrote

he was probably affected by

Swinburne’s judgment is generally sound, his taste sensitive and discriminating. And we cannot say that his thinking is faulty or perverse—up to the 18 point at which it is thinking. But Swinburne stops thinking just at the moment when we are most zealous to go on. And this arrest, while it does not vitiate his work, makes it an introduction rather than a statement.

We are aware, after the Contemporaries of Shakespeare and the Age of Shakespeare and the books on Shakespeare and Jonson, that there is something unsatisfactory in the way in which Swinburne was interested in these people; we suspect that his interest was never articulately formulated in his mind or consciously directed to any purpose. He makes his way, or loses it, between two paths of definite direction. He might as a poet have concentrated his attention upon the technical problems solved or tackled by these men; he might have traced for us the development of blank verse from Sackville to the mature Shakespeare, and its degeneration from Shakespeare to Milton. Or he might have studied through the literature to the mind of that century; he might, by dissection and analysis, have helped us to some insight into the feeling and thought which we seem to have left so far away. In either case, you would have had at least the excitement of following the movements of an important mind groping towards important conclusions. As it is, there are to be no conclusions, except that Elizabethan literature is very great, and that you can have pleasure and even ecstasy from it, because a sensitive poetic talent has had the experience. One is in risk of becoming fatigued by a hubbub that does not march; the drum is beaten, but the procession does not advance.

19 If, for example, Swinburne’s interest was in poetry, why devote an essay to Brome? “The opening scene of the Sparagus Garden ,” says Swinburne, “is as happily humorous and as vividly natural as that of any more famous comedy.” The scene is both humorous and natural. Brome deserves to be more read than he is, and first of all to be more accessible than he is. But Swinburne ought to suggest or imply (I do not say impose) a reason for reading the Sparagus Garden or the Antipodes , more sufficient than any he has provided. No doubt such reason could be found.

When it is a matter of pronouncing judgment between two poets, Swinburne is almost unerring. He is certainly right in putting Webster above Tourneur, Tourneur above Ford, and Ford above Shirley. He weighs accurately the good and evil in Fletcher: he perceives the essential theatricality, but his comparison of the Faithful Shepherdess with Comus is a judgment no word of which can be improved upon:

The difference between this poem [ i.e. the Faithful Shepherdess ] and Milton’s exquisitely imitative Comus is the difference between a rose with a leaf or two faded or falling, but still fragrant and radiant, and the faultless but scentless reproduction of a rose in academic wax for the admiration and imitation of such craftsmen as must confine their ambition to the laurels of a college or the plaudits of a school.

In the longest and most important essay in the Contemporaries of Shakespeare , the essay on Chapman, there are many such sentences of sound 20 judgment forcibly expressed. The essay is the best we have on that great poet. It communicates the sense of dignity and mass which we receive from Chapman. But it also illustrates Swinburne’s infirmities. Swinburne was not tormented by the restless desire to penetrate to the heart and marrow of a poet, any more than he was tormented by the desire to render the finest shades of difference and resemblance between several poets. Chapman is a difficult author, as Swinburne says; he is far more difficult than Jonson, to whom he bears only a superficial likeness. He is difficult beyond his obscurity. He is difficult partly through his possession of a quality comparatively deficient in Jonson, but which was nevertheless a quality of the age. It is strange that Swinburne should have hinted at a similarity to Jonson and not mentioned a far more striking affinity of Chapman’s—that is, Donne. The man who wrote

is unquestionably kin to Donne. The quality in question is not peculiar to Donne and Chapman. In common with the greatest—Marlowe, Webster, Tourneur, and Shakespeare—they had a quality of sensuous thought, or of thinking through the senses, or of the senses thinking, of which the exact formula 21 remains to be defined. If you look for it in Shelley or Beddoes, both of whom in very different ways recaptured something of the Elizabethan inspiration, you will not find it, though you may find other qualities instead. There is a trace of it only in Keats, and, derived from a different source, in Rossetti. You will not find it in the Duke of Gandia . Swinburne’s essay would have been all the better if he had applied himself to the solution of problems like this.

He did not apply himself to this sort of problem because this was not the sort of problem that interested him. The author of Swinburne’s critical essays is also the author of Swinburne’s verse: if you hold the opinion that Swinburne was a very great poet, you can hardly deny him the title of a great critic. There is the same curious mixture of qualities to produce Swinburne’s own effect, resulting in the same blur, which only the vigour of the colours fixes. His great merit as a critic is really one which, like many signal virtues, can be stated so simply as to appear flat. It is that he was sufficiently interested in his subject-matter and knew quite enough about it; and this is a rare combination in English criticism. Our critics are often interested in extracting something from their subject which is not fairly in it. And it is because this elementary virtue is so rare that Swinburne must take a very respectable place as a critic. Critics are often interested—but not quite in the nominal subject, often in something a little beside the point; they are often learned—but not quite to the point either. (Swinburne knew some of the plays almost by heart.) Can this particular virtue at which we 22 have glanced be attributed to Walter Pater? or to Professor Bradley? or to Swinburne’s editor?

A Romantic Aristocrat

It is impossible to overlook the merits of scholarship and criticism exhibited by George Wyndham’s posthumous book, and it is impossible to deal with the book purely on its merits of scholarship and criticism. To attempt to do so would in the first place be unfair, as the book is a posthumous work, and posthumous books demand some personal attention to their writers. This book is a collection of essays and addresses, arranged in their present order by Mr. Whibley; they were intended by their author to be remodelled into a volume on “romantic literature”; they move from an ingenious search for the date of the beginning of Romanticism, through the French and English Renaissance, to Sir Walter Scott. In the second place, these essays represent the literary work of a man who gained his chief distinction in political life. In the third place, this man stands for a type, an English type. The type is interesting and will probably become extinct. It is natural, therefore, that our primary interest in the essays should be an interest in George Wyndham.

Mr. Charles Whibley, in an introduction the tone of which is well suited to the matter, has several sentences which throw light on Wyndham’s personality. What issues with surprising clearness from Mr. Whibley’s sketch is the unity of Wyndham’s mind, the identity of his mind as it engaged in apparently unrelated occupations. Wyndham left Eton for the 23 army; in barracks he “taught himself Italian, and filled his leisure with the reading of history and poetry.” After this Coldstream culture there was a campaign in Egypt; later, service in South Africa accompanied by a copy of Virgil. There was a career in the Commons, a conspicuous career as Irish Secretary. Finally, there was a career as a landowner—2400 acres. And throughout these careers George Wyndham went on not only accumulating books but reading them, and occasionally writing about them. He was a man of character, a man of energy. Mr. Whibley is quite credible when he says:

Literature was for him no parergon, no mere way of escape from politics. If he was an amateur in feeling, he was a craftsman in execution;

and, more significantly,

With the same zest that he read and discoursed upon A Winter’s Tale or Troilus and Cressida , he rode to hounds, or threw himself with a kind of fury into a “point to point,” or made a speech at the hustings, or sat late in the night talking with a friend.

From these and other sentences we chart the mind of George Wyndham, and the key to its topography is the fact that his literature and his politics and his country life are one and the same thing. They are not in separate compartments, they are one career. Together they made up his world: literature, politics, riding to hounds. In the real world these things have nothing to do with each other. But we cannot believe that George Wyndham lived in the real world. And this is implied in Mr. Whibley’s remark that:

George Wyndham was by character and training a 24 romantic. He looked with wonder upon the world as upon a fairyland.

Here is the manifestation of type.

There must probably be conceded to history a few “many-sided” men. Perhaps Leonardo da Vinci was such. George Wyndham was not a man on the scale of Leonardo, and his writings give a very different effect from Leonardo’s notebooks. Leonardo turned to art or science, and each was what it was and not another thing. But Leonardo was Leonardo: he had no father to speak of, he was hardly a citizen, and he had no stake in the community. He lived in no fairyland, but his mind went out and became a part of things. George Wyndham was Gentry. He was chivalrous, the world was an adventure of himself. It is characteristic that on embarking as a subaltern for Egypt he wrote enthusiastically:

I do not suppose that any expedition since the days of Roman governors of provinces has started with such magnificence; we might have been Antony going to Egypt in a purple-sailed galley.

This is precisely the spirit which animates his appreciation of the Elizabethans and of Walter Scott; which guides him toward Hakluyt and North. Wyndham was enthusiastic, he was a Romantic, he was an Imperialist, and he was quite naturally a literary pupil of W. E. Henley. Wyndham was a scholar, but his scholarship is incidental; he was a good critic, within the range allowed him by his enthusiasms; but it is neither as Scholar nor as Critic that we can criticize him. We can criticize his writings only as the expression of this peculiar 25 English type, the aristocrat, the Imperialist, the Romantic, riding to hounds across his prose, looking with wonder upon the world as upon a fairyland.

Because he belongs to this type, Wyndham wrote enthusiastically and well about North’s Plutarch. The romance of the ancient world becomes more romantic in the idiomatic prose of North; the heroes are not merely Greek and Roman heroes, but Elizabethan heroes as well; the romantic fusion allured Wyndham. The charms of North could not be expounded more delightfully, more seductively, with more gusto, than they are in Wyndham’s essay. He appreciates the battles, the torchlight, the “dead sound” of drums, the white, worn face of Cicero in his flight peering from his litter; he appreciates the sharp brusque phrase of North: “he roundly trussed them up and hung them by their necks.” And Wyndham is learned. Here, as in his essays on the Pléiade and Shakespeare, the man has read everything, with a labour that only whets his enjoyment of the best. There are two defects: a lack of balance and a lack of critical profundity. The lack of balance peeps through Wyndham’s condemnation of an obviously inferior translation of Plutarch: “He dedicated the superfluity of his leisure to enjoyment, and used his Lamia,” says the bad translator. North: “he took pleasure of Lamia.” Wyndham makes a set upon the bad translator. But he forgets that “dedicated the superfluity of his leisure” is such a phrase as Gibbon would have warmed to life and wit, and that a history, in the modern sense, could not be written in the style of North. Wyndham forgets, in short, that it is not, in the end, periods and traditions 26 but individual men who write great prose. For Wyndham is himself a period and a tradition.

The lack of balance is to be suspected elsewhere. Wyndham likes the best, but he likes a good deal. There is no conclusive evidence that he realized all the difference, the gulf of difference between lines like:

and even the very best of Ronsard or Bellay, such as:

We should not gather from Wyndham’s essay that the Phœnix and Turtle is a great poem, far finer than Venus and Adonis ; but what he says about Venus and Adonis is worth reading, for Wyndham is very sharp in perceiving the neglected beauties of the second-rate. There is nothing to show the gulf of difference between Shakespeare’s sonnets and those of any other Elizabethan. Wyndham overrates Sidney, and in his references to Elizabethan writings on the theory of poetry omits mention of the essay by Campion, an abler and more daring though less common-sense study than Daniel’s. He speaks a few words for Drayton, but has not noticed that the only good lines (with the exception of one sonnet which may be an accident) in Drayton’s dreary sequence of “Ideas” occur when Drayton drops his costume for a moment and talks in terms of actuality:

27 More important than the lack of balance is the lack of critical analysis. Wyndham had, as was indicated, a gusto for the Elizabethans. His essay on the Poems of Shakespeare contains an extraordinary amount of information. There is some interesting gossip about Mary Fitton and a good anecdote of Sir William Knollys. But Wyndham misses what is the cardinal point in criticizing the Elizabethans: we cannot grasp them, understand them, without some understanding of the pathology of rhetoric. Rhetoric, a particular form of rhetoric, was endemic, it pervaded the whole organism; the healthy as well as the morbid tissues were built up on it. We cannot grapple with even the simplest and most conversational lines in Tudor and early Stuart drama without having diagnosed the rhetoric in the sixteenth and seventeenth-century mind. Even when we come across lines like:

we must not allow ourselves to forget the rhetorical basis any more than when we read:

An understanding of Elizabethan rhetoric is as essential to the appreciation of Elizabethan literature as an understanding of Victorian sentiment is essential to the appreciation of Victorian literature and of George Wyndham.

Wyndham was a Romantic; the only cure for Romanticism is to analyse it. What is permanent and good in Romanticism is curiosity—

a curiosity which recognizes that any life, if accurately and profoundly penetrated, is interesting and always strange. Romanticism is a short cut to the strangeness without the reality, and it leads its disciples only back upon themselves. George Wyndham had curiosity, but he employed it romantically, not to penetrate the real world, but to complete the varied features of the world he made for himself. It would be of interest to divagate from literature to politics and inquire to what extent Romanticism is incorporate in Imperialism; to inquire to what extent Romanticism has possessed the imagination of Imperialists, and to what extent it was made use of by Disraeli. But this is quite another matter: there may be a good deal to be said for Romanticism in life, there is no place for it in letters. Not that we need conclude that a man of George Wyndham’s antecedents and traditions must inevitably be a Romanticist writer. But this is the case when such a man plants himself firmly in his awareness of caste, when he says “The gentry must not abdicate.” In politics this may be an admirable formula. It will not do in literature. The Arts insist that a man shall dispose of all that he has, even of his family tree, and follow art alone. For they require that a man be not a member of a family or of a caste or of a party or of a coterie, but simply and solely himself. A man like Wyndham brings several virtues into literature. But there is only one man better and more uncommon than the patrician, and that is the Individual.

The Local Flavour

In a world which is chiefly occupied with the task of keeping up to date with itself, it is a satisfaction to know that there is at least one man who has not only read but enjoyed, and not only enjoyed but read, such authors as Petronius and Herondas. That is Mr. Charles Whibley, and there are two statements to make about him: that he is not a critic, and that he is something which is almost as rare, if not quite as precious. He has apparently read and enjoyed a great deal of English literature, and the part of it that he has most enjoyed is the literature of the great ages, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. We may opine that Mr. Whibley has not uttered a single important original judgment upon any of this literature. On the other hand, how many have done so? Mr. Whibley is not a critic of men or of books; but he convinces us that if we read the books that he has read we should find them as delightful as he has found them; and if we read them we can form our own opinions. And if he has not the balance of the critic, he has some other equipoise of his own. It is partly that his tastes are not puritanical, that he can talk about Restoration dramatists and others without apologizing for their “indecency”; it is partly his sense for the best local and temporal flavours; it is partly his healthy appetite.

A combination of non-critical, rather than uncritical, qualities made Mr. Whibley the most appropriate person in the world for the work by which he is best known. We should be more grateful for the “Tudor Translations Series” if we could find copies to be 30 bought, and if we could afford to buy them when we found them. But that is not Mr. Whibley’s fault. The introductions which he wrote for some of the translators are all that such introductions should be. His Urquhart’s Rabelais contains all the irrelevant information about that writer which is what is wanted to stimulate a taste for him. After reading the introduction, to read Urquhart was the only pleasure in life. And therefore, in a country destitute of living criticism, Mr. Whibley is a useful person: for the first thing is that English literature should be read at all. The few people who talk intelligently about Stendhal and Flaubert and James know this; but the larger number of people who skim the conversation of the former do not know enough of English literature to be even insular. There are two ways in which a writer may lead us to profit by the work of dead writers. One is by isolating the essential, by pointing out the most intense in various kinds and separating it from the accidents of environment. This method is helpful only to the more intelligent people, who are capable of a unique enjoyment of perfect expression, and it concentrates on the very best in any art. The other method, that of Mr. Whibley, is to communicate a taste for the period—and for the best of the period so far as it is of that period. That is not very easy either. For a pure journalist will not know any period well enough; a pure dilettante will know it too egotistically, as a fashion of his own. Mr. Whibley is really interested; and he has escaped, without any programme of revolt, from the present century into those of Tudor and Stuart. He escapes, and perhaps leads others, 31 by virtue of a taste which is not exactly a literary taste.

The “Tudor Translations” form part of a pronounced taste. Some are better written than others. There is, of course, a world of difference—of which Mr. Whibley is perhaps unaware—between even Florio and his original. The French of Montaigne is a mature language, and the English of Florio’s living translation is not. Montaigne could be translated into the English of his time, but a similar work could not have been written in it. But as the English language matured it lost something that Florio and all his inferior colleagues had, and that they had in common with the language of Montaigne. It was not only the language, but the time. The prose of that age had life, a life to which later ages could not add, from which they could only take away. You find the same life, the same abundance, in Montaigne and Brantôme, the alteration in Rochefoucauld as in Hobbes, the desiccation in the classic prose of both languages, in Voltaire and in Gibbon. Only, the French was originally richer and more mature—already in Joinville and Commines—and we have no prose to compare with Montaigne and Rabelais. If Mr. Whibley had analysed this vitality, and told us why Holland and Underdowne, Nashe and Martin Marprelate are still worth reading, then he could have shown us how to recognize this quality when it, or something like it, appears in our own lifetime. But Mr. Whibley is not an analyst. His taste, even, becomes less certain as he fixes it on individuals within his period. On Surrey’s blank verse he is feeble; he does not even give Surrey the credit of 32 having anticipated some of Tennyson’s best effects. He has no praise for Golding, quite one of the best of the verse translators; he apologizes for him by saying that Ovid demands no strength or energy! There is strength and energy, at least, in Marlowe’s Amores . And he omits mention of Gawain Douglas, who, though he wrote in Scots, was surely a “Tudor” translator. Characteristically, Mr. Whibley praises Chapman because

it gives proof of an abounding life, a quenchless energy. There is a grandeur and spirit in Chapman’s rendering, not unworthy the original....

This is commonplace, and it is uncritical. And a critic would not use so careless a phrase as “Tasso’s masterpiece.” The essay on Congreve does not add much to our understanding:

And so he set upon the boards a set of men and women of quick brains and cynical humours, who talked with the brilliance and rapidity wherewith the finished swordsman fences.

We have heard of this conversation like fencing before. And the suspicion is in our breast that Mr. Whibley might admire George Meredith. The essay on Ralegh gives still less. The reality of that pleasing pirate and monopolist has escaped, and only the national hero is left. And yet Ralegh, and Swift, and Congreve, and the underworld of sixteenth and seventeenth-century letters, are somehow kept alive by what Mr. Whibley says of them.

Accordingly, Mr. Whibley does not disappear in the jungle of journalism and false criticism; he deserves a “place upon the shelves” of those who care for 33 English literature. He has the first requisite of a critic: interest in his subject, and ability to communicate an interest in it. His defects are both of intellect and feeling. He has no dissociative faculty. There were very definite vices and definite shortcomings and immaturities in the literature he admires; and as he is not the person to tell us of the vices and shortcomings, he is not the person to lay before us the work of absolutely the finest quality. He exercises neither of the tools of the critic: comparison and analysis. He has not the austerity of passion which can detect unerringly the transition from work of eternal intensity to work that is merely beautiful, and from work that is beautiful to work that is merely charming. For the critic needs to be able not only to saturate himself in the spirit and the fashion of a time—the local flavour—but also to separate himself suddenly from it in appreciation of the highest creative work.

And he needs something else that Mr. Whibley lacks: a creative interest, a focus upon the immediate future. The important critic is the person who is absorbed in the present problems of art, and who wishes to bring the forces of the past to bear upon the solution of these problems. If the critic consider Congreve, for instance, he will have always at the back of his mind the question: What has Congreve got that is pertinent to our dramatic art? Even if he is solely engaged in trying to understand Congreve, this will make all the difference: inasmuch as to understand anything is to understand from a point of view. Most critics have some creative interest—it may be, instead of an interest in any art, an interest 34 (like Mr. Paul More’s) in morals. These remarks were introduced only to assist in giving the books of Mr. Whibley a place, a particular but unticketed place, neither with criticism, nor with history, nor with plain journalism; and the trouble would not have been taken if the books were not thought to be worth placing.

A Note on the American Critic

This gallery of critics is not intended to be in any sense complete. But having dealt with three English writers of what may be called critical prose, one’s mind becomes conscious of the fact that they have something in common, and, trying to perceive more clearly what this community is, and suspecting that it is a national quality, one is impelled to meditate upon the strongest contrast possible. Hence these comments upon two American critics and one French critic, which would not take exactly this form without the contrast at which I have hinted.

Mr. Paul More is the author of a number of volumes which he perhaps hopes will break the record of mass established by the complete works of Sainte-Beuve. The comparison with Sainte-Beuve is by no means trivial, for Mr. More, and Professor Irving Babbitt also, are admirers of the voluminous Frenchman. Not only are they admirers, but their admiration is perhaps a clue both to much of their merit and to some of their defects. In the first place, both of these writers have given much more attention to French criticism, to the study of French standards of writing and of thought, than any of the notable English critics 35 since Arnold; they are therefore much nearer to the European current, although they exhibit faults which are definitely transatlantic and which definitely keep them out of it. The French influence is traceable in their devotion to ideas and their interest in problems of art and life as problems which exist and can be handled apart from their relations to the critic’s private temperament. With Swinburne, the criticism of Elizabethan literature has the interest of a passion, it has the interest for us of any writing by an intellectual man who is genuinely moved by certain poetry. Swinburne’s intelligence is not defective, it is impure. There are few ideas in Swinburne’s critical writings which stand forth luminous with an independent life of their own, so true that one forgets the author in the statement. Swinburne’s words must always be referred back to Swinburne himself. And if literature is to Swinburne merely a passion, we are tempted to say that to George Wyndham it was a hobby, and to Mr. Whibley almost a charming showman’s show (we are charmed by the urbanity of the showman). The two latter have gusto, but gusto is no equivalent for taste; it depends too much upon the appetite and the digestion of the feeder. And with one or two other writers, whom I have not had occasion to discuss, literature is not so much a collection of valuable porcelain as an institution—accepted, that is to say, with the same gravity as the establishments of Church and State. That is, in other words, the essentially uncritical attitude. In all of these attitudes the English critic is the victim of his temperament. He may acquire great erudition, but erudition easily becomes a hobby; it is useless unless it enables us to 36 see literature all round, to detach it from ourselves, to reach a state of pure contemplation.

Now Mr. More and Mr. Babbitt have endeavoured to establish a criticism which should be independent of temperament. This is in itself a considerable merit. But at this point Mr. More particularly has been led astray, oddly enough, by his guide Sainte-Beuve. Neither Mr. More nor Sainte-Beuve is primarily interested in art. Of the latter M. Benda has well observed that

on sait—et c’est certainement un des grands éléments de son succès—combien d’études l’illustre critique consacre à des auteurs dont l’importance littéraire est quasi nulle (femmes, magistrats, courtisans, militaires), mais dont les écrits lui sont une occasion de pourtraiturer une âme; combien volontiers, pour les maîtres, il s’attache à leurs productions secondaires, notes, brouillons, lettres intimes, plutôt qu’à leurs grandes œuvres, souvent beaucoup moins expressives, en effet, de leur psychologie.

Mr. More is not, like Sainte-Beuve, primarily interested in psychology or in human beings; Mr. More is primarily a moralist, which is a worthy and serious thing to be. The trouble with Mr. More is that you cannot disperse a theory or point of view of morals over a vast number of essays on a great variety of important figures in literature, unless you can give some more particular interest as well. Sainte-Beuve has his particularized interest in human beings; another critic—say Remy de Gourmont—may have something to say always about the art of a writer which will make our enjoyment of that writer more conscious and more intelligent. But the pure moralist in 37 letters—the moralist is useful to the creator as well as the reader of poetry—must be more concise, for we must have the pleasure of inspecting the beauty of his structure. And here M. Julien Benda has a great advantage over Mr. More; his thought may be less profound, but it has more formal beauty.

Mr. Irving Babbitt, who shares so many of the ideals and opinions of Mr. More that their names must be coupled, has expressed his thought more abstractly and with more form, and is free from a mystical impulse which occasionally gets out of Mr. More’s hand. He appears, more clearly than Mr. More, and certainly more clearly than any critic of equal authority in America or England, to perceive Europe as a whole; he has the cosmopolitan mind and a tendency to seek the centre. His few books are important, and would be more important if he preached of discipline in a more disciplined style. Although he also is an admirer of Sainte-Beuve, he would probably subscribe to this admirable paragraph of Othenin d’Haussonville: [4]

Il y a une beauté littéraire, impersonnelle en quelque sorte, parfaitement distincte de l’auteur lui-même et de son organisation, beauté qui a sa raison d’être et ses lois, dont la critique est tenue de rendre compte. Et si la critique considère cette tâche comme au-dessous d’elle, si c’est affaire à la rhétorique et à ce que Sainte-Beuve appelle dédaigneusement les Quintilien, alors la rhetorique a du bon et les Quintilien ne sont pas à dédaigner.

There may be several critics in England who would 38 applaud this notion; there are very few who show any evidence of its apprehension in their writings. But Mr. More and Mr. Babbitt, whatever their actual tastes, and although they are not primarily occupied with art, are on the side of the artist. And the side of the artist is not the side which in England is often associated with critical writing. As Mr. More has pointed out in an interesting essay, there is a vital weakness in Arnold’s definition of criticism as “the disinterested endeavour to know the best that is known and thought in the world, irrespectively of practice, politics, and everything of the kind.” The “disinterested endeavour to know” is only a prerequisite of the critic , and is not criticism , which may be the result of such an endeavour. Arnold states the work of the critic merely in terms of the personal ideal, an ideal for oneself—and an ideal for oneself is not disinterested. Here Arnold is the Briton rather than the European.

Mr. More indicates his own attitude in praising those whom he elevates to the position of masters of criticism:

If they deal much with the criticism of literature, this is because in literature more manifestly than anywhere else life displays its infinitely varied motives and results; and their practice is always to render literature itself more consciously a criticism of life.

“Criticism of life” is a facile phrase, and at most only represents one aspect of great literature, if it does not assign to the term “criticism” itself a generality which robs it of precision. Mr. More has, it seems to me, in this sentence just failed to put his 39 finger on the right seriousness of great literary art: the seriousness which we find in Villon’s Testament and which is conspicuously absent from In Memoriam ; or the seriousness which controls Amos Barton and not The Mill on the Floss .

It is a pity that Mr. More does not write a little oftener about the great literary artists, it is a pity that he takes the reputations of the world too solemnly. This is probably due in part to remoteness in space from the European centre. But it must be observed that English solemnity and American solemnity are very different. I do not propose to analyse the difference (it would be a valuable chapter in social history); the American solemnity, it is enough to say, is more primitive, more academic, more like that of the German professor. But it is not the fault of Mr. More or Mr. Babbitt that the culture of ideas has only been able to survive in America in the unfavourable atmosphere of the university.

The French Intelligence

As the inspection of types of English irresistibly provoked a glance at two American critics, so the inspection of the latter leads our attention to the French. M. Julien Benda has the formal beauty which the American critics lack, and a close affinity to them in point of view. He restricts himself, perhaps, to a narrower field of ideas, but within that field he manipulates the ideas with a very exceptional cogency and clarity. To notice his last book ( Belphégor: essai sur l’esthétique de la présente société française ) would be to quote from it. M. Benda is not like 40 Remy de Gourmont, the critical consciousness of a generation, he could not supply the conscious formulas of a sensibility in process of formation; he is rather the ideal scavenger of the rubbish of our time. Much of his analysis of the decadence of contemporary French society could be applied to London, although differences are observable from his diagnosis.

Quant à la société en elle-même, on peut prévoir que ce soin qu’elle met à éprouver de l’émoi par l’art, devenant cause à son tour, y rendra la soif de ce plaisir de plus en plus intense, l’application a la satisfaire de plus en plus jalouse et plus perfectionnée. On entrevoit le jour où la bonne société française repudiera encore le peu qu’elle supporte aujourd’hui d’idées et d’organisation dans l’art, et ne se passionera plus que pour des gestes de comédiens, pour des impressions de femmes ou d’enfants, pour des rugissements de lyriques, pour des extases de fanatiques....

Almost the only person who has ever figured in England and attempted a task at all similar to that of M. Benda is Matthew Arnold. Matthew Arnold was intelligent, and by so much difference as the presence of one intelligent man makes, our age is inferior to that of Arnold. But what an advantage a man like M. Benda has over Arnold. It is not simply that he has a critical tradition behind him, and that Arnold is using a language which constantly tempts the user away from dispassionate exposition into sarcasm and diatribe, a language less fitted for criticism than the English of the eighteenth century. It is that the follies and stupidities of the French, no matter how base, express themselves in the form of ideas—Bergsonism itself is an intellectual construction, and 41 the mondaines who attended lectures at the College de France were in a sense using their minds. A man of ideas needs ideas, or pseudo-ideas, to fight against. And Arnold lacked the active resistance which is necessary to keep a mind at its sharpest.

A society in which a mind like M. Benda’s can exercise itself, and in which there are persons like M. Benda, is one which facilitates the task of the creative artist. M. Benda cannot be attached, like Gourmont, to any creative group. He does not wholly partake in that “conscious creation of the field of the present out of the past” which Mr. More considers to be part of the work of the critic. But in analysing the maladies of the second-rate or corrupt literature of the time he makes the labour of the creative artist lighter. The Charles Louis Philippes of English literature are never done with, because there is no one to kill their reputations; we still hear that George Meredith is a master of prose, or even a profound philosopher. The creative artist in England finds himself compelled, or at least tempted, to spend much of his time and energy in criticism that he might reserve for the perfecting of his proper work: simply because there is no one else to do it.

Tradition and the Individual Talent

In English writing we seldom speak of tradition, though we occasionally apply its name in deploring its absence. We cannot refer to “the tradition” or to “a tradition”; at most, we employ the adjective in saying that the poetry of So-and-so is “traditional” or even “too traditional.” Seldom, perhaps, does the word appear except in a phrase of censure. If otherwise, it is vaguely approbative, with the implication, as to the work approved, of some pleasing archæological reconstruction. You can hardly make the word agreeable to English ears without this comfortable reference to the reassuring science of archæology.

Certainly the word is not likely to appear in our appreciations of living or dead writers. Every nation, every race, has not only its own creative, but its own critical turn of mind; and is even more oblivious of the shortcomings and limitations of its critical habits than of those of its creative genius. We know, or think we know, from the enormous mass of critical writing that has appeared in the French language the critical method or habit of the French; we only conclude (we are such unconscious people) that the French are “more critical” than we, and sometimes 43 even plume ourselves a little with the fact, as if the French were the less spontaneous. Perhaps they are; but we might remind ourselves that criticism is as inevitable as breathing, and that we should be none the worse for articulating what passes in our minds when we read a book and feel an emotion about it, for criticizing our own minds in their work of criticism. One of the facts that might come to light in this process is our tendency to insist, when we praise a poet, upon those aspects of his work in which he least resembles anyone else. In these aspects or parts of his work we pretend to find what is individual, what is the peculiar essence of the man. We dwell with satisfaction upon the poet’s difference from his predecessors, especially his immediate predecessors; we endeavour to find something that can be isolated in order to be enjoyed. Whereas if we approach a poet without his prejudice we shall often find that not only the best, but the most individual parts of his work may be those in which the dead poets, his ancestors, assert their immortality most vigorously. And I do not mean the impressionable period of adolescence, but the period of full maturity.

Yet if the only form of tradition, of handing down, consisted in following the ways of the immediate generation before us in a blind or timid adherence to its successes, “tradition” should positively be discouraged. We have seen many such simple currents soon lost in the sand; and novelty is better than repetition. Tradition is a matter of much wider significance. It cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour. It involves, in the first place, the historical sense, which we may 44 call nearly indispensable to anyone who would continue to be a poet beyond his twenty-fifth year; and the historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence; the historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order. This historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional. And it is at the same time what makes a writer most acutely conscious of his place in time, of his contemporaneity.

No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead. I mean this as a principle of aesthetic, not merely historical, criticism. The necessity that he shall conform, that he shall cohere, is not one-sided; what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it. The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them. The existing order is complete before the new work arrives; for order to persist after the supervention of novelty, the whole existing order must be, if ever so slightly, altered; 45 and so the relations, proportions, values of each work of art toward the whole are readjusted; and this is conformity between the old and the new. Whoever has approved this idea of order, of the form of European, of English literature, will not find it preposterous that the past should be altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past. And the poet who is aware of this will be aware of great difficulties and responsibilities.

In a peculiar sense he will be aware also that he must inevitably be judged by the standards of the past. I say judged, not amputated, by them; not judged to be as good as, or worse or better than, the dead; and certainly not judged by the canons of dead critics. It is a judgment, a comparison, in which two things are measured by each other. To conform merely would be for the new work not really to conform at all; it would not be new, and would therefore not be a work of art. And we do not quite say that the new is more valuable because it fits in; but its fitting in is a test of its value—a test, it is true, which can only be slowly and cautiously applied, for we are none of us infallible judges of conformity. We say: it appears to conform, and is perhaps individual, or it appears individual, and may conform; but we are hardly likely to find that it is one and not the other.

To proceed to a more intelligible exposition of the relation of the poet to the past: he can neither take the past as a lump, an indiscriminate bolus, nor can he form himself wholly on one or two private admirations, nor can he form himself wholly upon one preferred period. The first course is inadmissible, 46 the second is an important experience of youth, and the third is a pleasant and highly desirable supplement. The poet must be very conscious of the main current, which does not at all flow invariably through the most distinguished reputations. He must be quite aware of the obvious fact that art never improves, but that the material of art is never quite the same. He must be aware that the mind of Europe—the mind of his own country—a mind which he learns in time to be much more important than his own private mind—is a mind which changes, and that this change is a development which abandons nothing en route , which does not superannuate either Shakespeare, or Homer, or the rock drawing of the Magdalenian draughtsmen. That this development, refinement perhaps, complication certainly, is not, from the point of view of the artist, any improvement. Perhaps not even an improvement from the point of view of the psychologist or not to the extent which we imagine; perhaps only in the end based upon a complication in economics and machinery. But the difference between the present and the past is that the conscious present is an awareness of the past in a way and to an extent which the past’s awareness of itself cannot show.

Some one said: “The dead writers are remote from us because we know so much more than they did.” Precisely, and they are that which we know.

I am alive to a usual objection to what is clearly part of my programme for the métier of poetry. The objection is that the doctrine requires a ridiculous amount of erudition (pedantry), a claim which can be rejected by appeal to the lives of poets in any pantheon. 47 It will even be affirmed that much learning deadens or perverts poetic sensibility. While, however, we persist in believing that a poet ought to know as much as will not encroach upon his necessary receptivity and necessary laziness, it is not desirable to confine knowledge to whatever can be put into a useful shape for examinations, drawing-rooms, or the still more pretentious modes of publicity. Some can absorb knowledge, the more tardy must sweat for it. Shakespeare acquired more essential history from Plutarch than most men could from the whole British Museum. What is to be insisted upon is that the poet must develop or procure the consciousness of the past and that he should continue to develop this consciousness throughout his career.

What happens is a continual surrender of himself as he is at the moment to something which is more valuable. The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.

There remains to define this process of depersonalization and its relation to the sense of tradition. It is in this depersonalization that art may be said to approach the condition of science. I shall, therefore, invite you to consider, as a suggestive analogy, the action which takes place when a bit of finely filiated platinum is introduced into a chamber containing oxygen and sulphur dioxide.

Honest criticism and sensitive appreciation is directed not upon the poet but upon the poetry. If we attend to the confused cries of the newspaper 48 critics and the susurrus of popular repetition that follows, we shall hear the names of poets in great numbers; if we seek not Blue-book knowledge but the enjoyment of poetry, and ask for a poem, we shall seldom find it. In the last article I tried to point out the importance of the relation of the poem to other poems by other authors, and suggested the conception of poetry as a living whole of all the poetry that has ever been written. The other aspect of this Impersonal theory of poetry is the relation of the poem to its author. And I hinted, by an analogy, that the mind of the mature poet differs from that of the immature one not precisely in any valuation of “personality,” not being necessarily more interesting, or having “more to say,” but rather by being a more finely perfected medium in which special, or very varied, feelings are at liberty to enter into new combinations.

The analogy was that of the catalyst. When the two gases previously mentioned are mixed in the presence of a filament of platinum, they form sulphurous acid. This combination takes place only if the platinum is present; nevertheless the newly formed acid contains no trace of platinum, and the platinum itself is apparently unaffected; has remained inert, neutral, and unchanged. The mind of the poet is the shred of platinum. It may partly or exclusively operate upon the experience of the man himself; but, the more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates; the more perfectly will the mind digest and transmute the passions which are its material.

49 The experience, you will notice, the elements which enter the presence of the transforming catalyst, are of two kinds: emotions and feelings. The effect of a work of art upon the person who enjoys it is an experience different in kind from any experience not of art. It may be formed out of one emotion, or may be a combination of several; and various feelings, inhering for the writer in particular words or phrases or images, may be added to compose the final result. Or great poetry may be made without the direct use of any emotion whatever: composed out of feelings solely. Canto XV of the Inferno (Brunetto Latini) is a working up of the emotion evident in the situation; but the effect, though single as that of any work of art, is obtained by considerable complexity of detail. The last quatrain gives an image, a feeling attaching to an image, which “came,” which did not develop simply out of what precedes, but which was probably in suspension in the poet’s mind until the proper combination arrived for it to add itself to. The poet’s mind is in fact a receptacle for seizing and storing up numberless feelings, phrases, images, which remain there until all the particles which can unite to form a new compound are present together.

If you compare several representative passages of the greatest poetry you see how great is the variety of types of combination, and also how completely any semi-ethical criterion of “sublimity” misses the mark. For it is not the “greatness,” the intensity, of the emotions, the components, but the intensity of the artistic process, the pressure, so to speak, under which the fusion takes place, that counts. The 50 episode of Paolo and Francesca employs a definite emotion, but the intensity of the poetry is something quite different from whatever intensity in the supposed experience it may give the impression of. It is no more intense, furthermore, than Canto XXVI, the voyage of Ulysses, which has not the direct dependence upon an emotion. Great variety is possible in the process of transmution of emotion: the murder of Agamemnon, or the agony of Othello, gives an artistic effect apparently closer to a possible original than the scenes from Dante. In the Agamemnon , the artistic emotion approximates to the emotion of an actual spectator; in Othello to the emotion of the protagonist himself. But the difference between art and the event is always absolute; the combination which is the murder of Agamemnon is probably as complex as that which is the voyage of Ulysses. In either case there has been a fusion of elements. The ode of Keats contains a number of feelings which have nothing particular to do with the nightingale, but which the nightingale, partly, perhaps, because of its attractive name, and partly because of its reputation, served to bring together.

The point of view which I am struggling to attack is perhaps related to the metaphysical theory of the substantial unity of the soul: for my meaning is, that the poet has, not a “personality” to express, but a particular medium, which is only a medium and not a personality, in which impressions and experiences combine in peculiar and unexpected ways. Impressions and experiences which are important for the man may take no place in the poetry, and those which become important in the poetry 51 may play quite a negligible part in the man, the personality.

I will quote a passage which is unfamiliar enough to be regarded with fresh attention in the light—or darkness—of these observations:

In this passage (as is evident if it is taken in its context) there is a combination of positive and negative emotions: an intensely strong attraction toward beauty and an equally intense fascination by the ugliness which is contrasted with it and which destroys it. This balance of contrasted emotion is in the dramatic situation to which the speech is pertinent, but that situation alone is inadequate to it. This is, so to speak, the structural emotion, provided by the drama. But the whole effect, the dominant tone, is due to the fact that a number of floating feelings, having an affinity to this emotion by no means superficially evident, have combined with it to give us a new art emotion.

It is not in his personal emotions, the emotions provoked by particular events in his life, that the poet is in any way remarkable or interesting. His 52 particular emotions may be simple, or crude, or flat. The emotion in his poetry will be a very complex thing, but not with the complexity of the emotions of people who have very complex or unusual emotions in life. One error, in fact, of eccentricity in poetry is to seek for new human emotions to express: and in this search for novelty in the wrong place it discovers the perverse. The business of the poet is not to find new emotions, but to use the ordinary ones and, in working them up into poetry, to express feelings which are not in actual emotions at all. And emotions which he has never experienced will serve his turn as well as those familiar to him. Consequently, we must believe that “emotion recollected in tranquillity” is an inexact formula. For it is neither emotion, nor recollection, nor, without distortion of meaning, tranquillity. It is a concentration, and a new thing resulting from the concentration, of a very great number of experiences which to the practical and active person would not seem to be experiences at all; it is a concentration which does not happen consciously or of deliberation. These experiences are not “recollected,” and they finally unite in an atmosphere which is “tranquil” only in that it is a passive attending upon the event. Of course this is not quite the whole story. There is a great deal, in the writing of poetry, which must be conscious and deliberate. In fact, the bad poet is usually unconscious where he ought to be conscious, and conscious where he ought to be unconscious. Both errors tend to make him “personal.” Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of 53 personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.

ὁ δὲ νοῦς ἴσως θειότερόν τι καὶ ἀπαθές ἐστιν

This essay proposes to halt at the frontier of metaphysics or mysticism, and confine itself to such practical conclusions as can be applied by the responsible person interested in poetry. To divert interest from the poet to the poetry is a laudable aim: for it would conduce to a juster estimation of actual poetry, good and bad. There are many people who appreciate the expression of sincere emotion in verse, and there is a smaller number of people who can appreciate technical excellence. But very few know when there is expression of significant emotion, emotion which has its life in the poem and not in the history of the poet. The emotion of art is impersonal. And the poet cannot reach this impersonality without surrendering himself wholly to the work to be done. And he is not likely to know what is to be done unless he lives in what is not merely the present, but the present moment of the past, unless he is conscious, not of what is dead, but of what is already living.

The Possibility of a Poetic Drama

The questions—why there is no poetic drama to-day, how the stage has lost all hold on literary art, why so many poetic plays are written which can only be read, and read, if at all, without pleasure—have become insipid, almost academic. The usual conclusion is either that “conditions” are too much for us, or that we really prefer other types of literature, or simply that we are uninspired. As for the last alternative, it is not to be entertained; as for the second, what type do we prefer?; and as for the first, no one has ever shown me “conditions,” except of the most superficial. The reasons for raising the question again are first that the majority, perhaps, certainly a large number, of poets hanker for the stage; and second, that a not negligible public appears to want verse plays. Surely there is some legitimate craving, not restricted to a few persons, which only the verse play can satisfy. And surely the critical attitude is to attempt to analyse the conditions and the other data. If there comes to light some conclusive obstacle, the investigation should at least help us to turn our thoughts to more profitable pursuits; and if there is not, we may hope to arrive eventually at some statement of conditions which might be altered. Possibly we shall find that our incapacity has a deeper source: the arts have at times flourished 55 when there was no drama; possibly we are incompetent altogether; in that case the stage will be, not the seat, but at all events a symptom, of the malady.

From the point of view of literature, the drama is only one among several poetic forms. The epic, the ballad, the chanson de geste, the forms of Provence and of Tuscany, all found their perfection by serving particular societies. The forms of Ovid, Catullus, Propertius, served a society different, and in some respects more civilized, than any of these; and in the society of Ovid the drama as a form of art was comparatively insignificant. Nevertheless, the drama is perhaps the most permanent, is capable of greater variation and of expressing more varied types of society, than any other. It varied considerably in England alone; but when one day it was discovered lifeless, subsequent forms which had enjoyed a transitory life were dead too. I am not prepared to undertake the historical survey; but I should say that the poetic drama’s autopsy was performed as much by Charles Lamb as by anyone else. For a form is not wholly dead until it is known to be; and Lamb, by exhuming the remains of dramatic life at its fullest, brought a consciousness of the immense gap between present and past. It was impossible to believe, after that, in a dramatic “tradition.” The relation of Byron’s English Bards and the poems of Crabbe to the work of Pope was a continuous tradition; but the relation of The Cenci to the great English drama is almost that of a reconstruction to an original. By losing tradition, we lose our hold on the present; but so far as there was any dramatic tradition in Shelley’s 56 day there was nothing worth the keeping. There is all the difference between preservation and restoration.

The Elizabethan Age in England was able to absorb a great quantity of new thoughts and new images, almost dispensing with tradition, because it had this great form of its own which imposed itself on everything that came to it. Consequently, the blank verse of their plays accomplished a subtlety and consciousness, even an intellectual power, that no blank verse since has developed or even repeated; elsewhere this age is crude, pedantic, or loutish in comparison with its contemporary France or Italy. The nineteenth century had a good many fresh impressions; but it had no form in which to confine them. Two men, Wordsworth and Browning, hammered out forms for themselves—personal forms, The Excursion , Sordello , The Ring and the Book , Dramatic Monologues ; but no man can invent a form, create a taste for it, and perfect it too. Tennyson, who might unquestionably have been a consummate master of minor forms, took to turning out large patterns on a machine. As for Keats and Shelley, they were too young to be judged, and they were trying one form after another.

These poets were certainly obliged to consume vast energy in this pursuit of form, which could never lead to a wholly satisfying result. There has only been one Dante; and, after all, Dante had the benefit of years of practice in forms employed and altered by numbers of contemporaries and predecessors; he did not waste the years of youth in metric invention; and when he came to the Commedia he knew how 57 to pillage right and left. To have, given into one’s hands, a crude form, capable of indefinite refinement, and to be the person to see the possibilities—Shakespeare was very fortunate. And it is perhaps the craving for some such donnée which draws us on toward the present mirage of poetic drama.

But it is now very questionable whether there are more than two or three in the present generation who are capable , the least little bit, of benefiting by such advantages were they given. At most two or three actually devote themselves to this pursuit of form for which they have little or no public recognition. To create a form is not merely to invent a shape, a rhyme or rhythm. It is also the realization of the whole appropriate content of this rhyme or rhythm. The sonnet of Shakespeare is not merely such and such a pattern, but a precise way of thinking and feeling. The framework which was provided for the Elizabethan dramatist was not merely blank verse and the five-act play and the Elizabethan playhouse; it was not merely the plot—for the poets incorporated, remodelled, adapted or invented, as occasion suggested. It was also the half-formed ὑλή, the “temper of the age” (an unsatisfactory phrase), a preparedness, a habit on the part of the public, to respond to particular stimuli. There is a book to be written on the commonplaces of any great dramatic period, the handling of Fate or Death, the recurrence of mood, tone, situation. We should see then just how little each poet had to do; only so much as would make a play his, only what was really essential to make it different from anyone else’s. When there is this economy of effort it is possible to have several, even many, good poets at once. The 58 great ages did not perhaps produce much more talent than ours; but less talent was wasted.

Now in a formless age there is very little hope for the minor poet to do anything worth doing; and when I say minor I mean very good poets indeed: such as filled the Greek anthology and the Elizabethan song-books; even a Herrick; but not merely second-rate poets, for Denham and Waller have quite another importance, occupying points in the development of a major form. When everything is set out for the minor poet to do, he may quite frequently come upon some trouvaille , even in the drama: Peele and Brome are examples. Under the present conditions, the minor poet has too much to do. And this leads to another reason for the incompetence of our time in poetic drama.

Permanent literature is always a presentation: either a presentation of thought, or a presentation of feeling by a statement of events in human action or objects in the external world. In earlier literature—to avoid the word “classic”—we find both kinds, and sometimes, as in some of the dialogues of Plato, exquisite combinations of both. Aristotle presents thought, stripped to the essential structure, and he is a great writer . The Agamemnon or Macbeth is equally a statement, but of events. They are as much works of the “intellect” as the writings of Aristotle. There are more recent works of art which have the same quality of intellect in common with those of Æschylus and Shakespeare and Aristotle: Education Sentimentale is one of them. Compare it with such a book as Vanity Fair and you will see that the labour of the intellect consisted largely in a 59 purification, in keeping out a great deal that Thackeray allowed to remain in; in refraining from reflection, in putting into the statement enough to make reflection unnecessary. The case of Plato is still more illuminating. Take the Theœtetus . In a few opening words Plato gives a scene, a personality, a feeling, which colour the subsequent discourse but do not interfere with it: the particular setting, and the abstruse theory of knowledge afterwards developed, co-operate without confusion. Could any contemporary author exhibit such control?

In the nineteenth century another mentality manifested itself It is evident in a very able and brilliant poem, Goethe’s Faust . Marlowe’s Mephistopheles is a simpler creature than Goethe’s. But at least Marlowe has, in a few words, concentrated him into a statement. He is there, and (incidentally) he renders Milton’s Satan superfluous. Goethe’s demon inevitably sends us back to Goethe. He embodies a philosophy. A creation of art should not do that: he should replace the philosophy. Goethe has not, that is to say, sacrificed or consecrated his thought to make the drama; the drama is still a means. And this type of mixed art has been repeated by men incomparably smaller than Goethe. We have had one other remarkable work of this type: Peer Gynt . And we have had the plays of M. Maeterlinck and M. Claudel. [5]

In the work of Maeterlinck and Claudel on the one 60 hand, and those of M. Bergson on the other, we have the mixture of the genres in which our age delights. Every work of imagination must have a philosophy; and every philosophy must be a work of art—how often have we heard that M. Bergson is an artist! It is a boast of his disciples. It is what the word “art” means to them that is the disputable point. Certain works of philosophy can be called works of art: much of Aristotle and Plato, Spinoza, parts of Hume, Mr. Bradley’s Principles of Logic , Mr. Russell’s essay on “Denoting”: clear and beautifully formed thought. But this is not what the admirers of Bergson, Claudel, or Maeterlinck (the philosophy of the latter is a little out of date) mean. They mean precisely what is not clear, but what is an emotional stimulus. And as a mixture of thought and of vision provides more stimulus, by suggesting both, both clear thinking and clear statement of particular objects must disappear.

The undigested “idea” or philosophy, the idea-emotion, is to be found also in poetic dramas which are conscientious attempts to adapt a true structure, Athenian or Elizabethan, to contemporary feeling. It appears sometimes as the attempt to supply the defect of structure by an internal structure. “But most important of all is the structure of the incidents. For Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of an action and of life, and life consists in action, and its end is a mode of action, not a quality.” [6]

We have on the one hand the “poetic” drama, imitation Greek, imitation Elizabethan, or modern-philosophical, on the other the comedy of “ideas,” from Shaw to Galsworthy, down to the ordinary 61 social comedy. The most ramshackle Guitry farce has some paltry idea or comment upon life put into the mouth of one of the characters at the end. It is said that the stage can be used for a variety of purposes, that in only one of them perhaps is it united with literary art. A mute theatre is a possibility (I do not mean the cinema); the ballet is an actuality (though under-nourished); opera is an institution; but where you have “imitations of life” on the stage, with speech, the only standard that we can allow is the standard of the work of art, aiming at the same intensity at which poetry and the other forms of art aim. From that point of view the Shavian drama is a hybrid as the Maeterlinckian drama is, and we need express no surprise at their belonging to the same epoch. Both philosophies are popularizations: the moment an idea has been transferred from its pure state in order that it may become comprehensible to the inferior intelligence it has lost contact with art. It can remain pure only by being stated simply in the form of general truth, or by being transmuted, as the attitude of Flaubert toward the small bourgeois is transformed in Education Sentimentale . It has there become so identified with the reality that you can no longer say what the idea is.

The essential is not, of course, that drama should be written in verse, or that we should be able to extenuate our appreciation of broad farce by occasionally attending a performance of a play of Euripides where Professor Murray’s translation is sold at the door. The essential is to get upon the stage this precise statement of life which is at the same 62 time a point of view, a world—a world which the author’s mind has subjected to a complete process of simplification. I do not find that any drama which “embodies a philosophy” of the author’s (like Faust ) or which illustrates any social theory (like Shaw’s) can possibly fulfil the requirements—though a place might be left for Shaw if not for Goethe. And the world of Ibsen and the world of Tchehov are not enough simplified, universal.

Finally, we must take into account the instability of any art—the drama, music, dancing—which depends upon representation by performers. The intervention of performers introduces a complication of economic conditions which is in itself likely to be injurious. A struggle, more or less unconscious, between the creator and the interpreter is almost inevitable. The interest of a performer is almost certain to be centred in himself: a very slight acquaintance with actors and musicians will testify. The performer is interested not in form but in opportunities for virtuosity or in the communication of his “personality”; the formlessness, the lack of intellectual clarity and distinction in modern music, the great physical stamina and physical training which it often requires, are perhaps signs of the triumph of the performer. The consummation of the triumph of the actor over the play is perhaps the productions of the Guitry.

The conflict is one which certainly cannot be terminated by the utter rout of the actor profession. For one thing, the stage appeals to too many demands besides the demand for art for that to be possible; and also we need, unfortunately, something more 63 than refined automatons. Occasionally attempts have been made to “get around” the actor, to envelop him in masks, to set up a few “conventions” for him to stumble over, or even to develop little breeds of actors for some special Art drama. This meddling with nature seldom succeeds; nature usually overcomes these obstacles. Possibly the majority of attempts to confect a poetic drama have begun at the wrong end; they have aimed at the small public which wants “poetry.” (“Novices,” says Aristotle, “in the art attain to finish of diction and precision of portraiture before they can construct the plot.”) The Elizabethan drama was aimed at a public which wanted entertainment of a crude sort, but would stand a good deal of poetry; our problem should be to take a form of entertainment, and subject it to the process which would leave it a form of art. Perhaps the music-hall comedian is the best material. I am aware that this is a dangerous suggestion to make. For every person who is likely to consider it seriously there are a dozen toymakers who would leap to tickle æsthetic society into one more quiver and giggle of art debauch. Very few treat art seriously. There are those who treat it solemnly, and will continue to write poetic pastiches of Euripides and Shakespeare; and there are others who treat it as a joke.

Euripides and Professor Murray

The recent appearance of Miss Sybil Thorndyke as Medea at the Holborn Empire is an event which has a bearing upon three subjects of considerable interest: the drama, the present standing of Greek literature, and the importance of good contemporary translation. On the occasion on which I was present the performance was certainly a success; the audience was large, it was attentive, and its applause was long. Whether the success was due to Euripides is uncertain; whether it was due to Professor Murray is not proved; but that it was in considerable measure due to Miss Thorndyke there is no doubt. To have held the centre of the stage for two hours in a rôle which requires both extreme violence and restraint, a rôle which requires simple force and subtle variation; to have sustained so difficult a rôle almost without support; this was a legitimate success. The audience, or what could be seen of it from one of the cheaper seats, was serious and respectful and perhaps inclined to self-approval at having attended the performance of a Greek play; but Miss Thorndyke’s acting might have held almost any audience. It employed all the conventions, the theatricalities, of the modern stage; yet her personality triumphed over not only Professor Murray’s verse but her own training.

65 The question remains whether the production was a “work of art.” The rest of the cast appeared slightly ill at ease; the nurse was quite a tolerable nurse of the crone type; Jason was negative; the messenger was uncomfortable at having to make such a long speech; and the refined Dalcroze chorus had mellifluous voices which rendered their lyrics happily inaudible. All this contributed toward the high-brow effect which is so depressing; and we imagine that the actors of Athens, who had to speak clearly enough for 20,000 auditors to be able to criticize the versification, would have been pelted with figs and olives had they mumbled so unintelligibly as most of this troupe. But the Greek actor spoke in his own language, and our actors were forced to speak in the language of Professor Gilbert Murray. So that on the whole we may say that the performance was an interesting one.

I do not believe, however, that such performances will do very much to rehabilitate Greek literature or our own, unless they stimulate a desire for better translations. The serious auditors, many of whom I observed to be like myself provided with Professor Murray’s eighteenpenny translation, were probably not aware that Miss Thorndyke, in order to succeed as well as she did, was really engaged in a struggle against the translator’s verse. She triumphed over it by attracting our attention to her expression and tone and making us neglect her words; and this, of course, was not the dramatic method of Greek acting at its best. The English and Greek languages remained where they were. But few persons realize that the Greek language and the Latin language, and, 66 therefore , we say, the English language, are within our lifetime passing through a critical period. The Classics have, during the latter part of the nineteenth century and up to the present moment, lost their place as a pillar of the social and political system—such as the Established Church still is. If they are to survive, to justify themselves as literature, as an element in the European mind, as the foundation for the literature we hope to create, they are very badly in need of persons capable of expounding them. We need some one—not a member of the Church of Rome, and perhaps preferably not a member of the Church of England—to explain how vital a matter it is, if Aristotle may be said to have been a moral pilot of Europe, whether we shall or shall not drop that pilot. And we need a number of educated poets who shall at least have opinions about Greek drama, and whether it is or is not of any use to us. And it must be said that Professor Gilbert Murray is not the man for this. Greek poetry will never have the slightest vitalizing effect upon English poetry if it can only appear masquerading as a vulgar debasement of the eminently personal idiom of Swinburne. These are strong words to use against the most popular Hellenist of his time; but we must witness of Professor Murray ere we die that these things are not otherwise but thus.

This is really a point of capital importance. That the most conspicuous Greek propagandist of the day should almost habitually use two words where the Greek language requires one, and where the English language will provide him with one; that he should render σκιάν by “ grey shadow”; and that he should 67 stretch the Greek brevity to fit the loose frame of William Morris, and blur the Greek lyric to the fluid haze of Swinburne; these are not faults of infinitesimal insignificance. The first great speech of Medea Mr. Murray begins with:

We find in the Greek, ἑξῆλθον δόμων. “Show my face,” therefore, is Mr. Murray’s gift.

Again, we find that the Greek is:

So, here are two striking phrases which we owe to Mr. Murray; it is he who has sapped our soul and shattered the cup of all life for Euripides. And these are only random examples.

becomes “no bloodier spirit between heaven and hell”! Surely we know that Professor Murray is acquainted with “Sister Helen”? Professor Murray has simply interposed between Euripides and ourselves a barrier more impenetrable than the Greek language. We do not reproach him for preferring, apparently, Euripides to Æschylus. But if he does, he should at least appreciate Euripides. And it is inconceivable that anyone with a genuine feeling for 68 the sound of Greek verse should deliberately elect the William Morris couplet, the Swinburne lyric, as a just equivalent.

As a poet, Mr. Murray is merely a very insignificant follower of the pre-Raphaelite movement. As a Hellenist, he is very much of the present day, and a very important figure in the day. This day began, in a sense, with Tylor and a few German anthropologists; since then we have acquired sociology and social psychology, we have watched the clinics of Ribot and Janet, we have read books from Vienna and heard a discourse of Bergson; a philosophy arose at Cambridge; social emancipation crawled abroad; our historical knowledge has of course increased; and we have a curious Freudian-social-mystical-rationalistic-higher-critical interpretation of the Classics and what used to be called the Scriptures. I do not deny the very great value of all work by scientists in their own departments, the great interest also of this work in detail and in its consequences. Few books are more fascinating than those of Miss Harrison, Mr. Cornford, or Mr. Cooke, when they burrow in the origins of Greek myths and rites; M. Durkheim, with his social consciousness, and M. Levy-Bruhl, with his Bororo Indians who convince themselves that they are parroquets, are delightful writers. A number of sciences have sprung up in an almost tropical exuberance which undoubtedly excites our admiration, and the garden, not unnaturally, has come to resemble a jungle. Such men as Tylor, and Robertson Smith, and Wilhelm Wundt, who early fertilized the soil, would hardly recognize the resulting vegetation; and indeed 69 poor Wundt’s Völkerpsychologie was a musty relic before it was translated.

All these events are useful and important in their phase, and they have sensibly affected our attitude towards the Classics; and it is this phase of classical study that Professor Murray—the friend and inspirer of Miss Jane Harrison—represents. The Greek is no longer the awe-inspiring Belvedere of Winckelmann, Goethe, and Schopenhauer, the figure of which Walter Pater and Oscar Wilde offered us a slightly debased re-edition. And we realize better how different—not how much more Olympian—were the conditions of the Greek civilization from ours; and at the same time Mr. Zimmern has shown us how the Greek dealt with analogous problems. Incidentally we do not believe that a good English prose style can be modelled upon Cicero, or Tacitus, or Thucydides. If Pindar bores us, we admit it; we are not certain that Sappho was very much greater than Catullus; we hold various opinions about Vergil; and we think more highly of Petronius than our grandfathers did.

It is to be hoped that we may be grateful to Professor Murray and his friends for what they have done, while we endeavour to neutralize Professor Murray’s influence upon Greek literature and English language in his translations by making better translations. The choruses from Euripides by H. D. are, allowing for errors and even occasional omissions of difficult passages, much nearer to both Greek and English than Mr. Murray’s. But H. D. and the other poets of the “Poets’ Translation Series” have so far done no more than pick up some of the more romantic crumbs of Greek literature; none of them 70 has yet shown himself competent to attack the Agamemnon . If we are to digest the heavy food of historical and scientific knowledge that we have eaten we must be prepared for much greater exertions. We need a digestion which can assimilate both Homer and Flaubert. We need a careful study of Renaissance Humanists and Translators, such as Mr. Pound has begun. We need an eye which can see the past in its place with its definite differences from the present, and yet so lively that it shall be as present to us as the present. This is the creative eye; and it is because Professor Murray has no creative instinct that he leaves Euripides quite dead.

“Rhetoric” and Poetic Drama

The death of Rostand is the disappearance of the poet whom, more than any other in France, we treated as the exponent of “rhetoric,” thinking of rhetoric as something recently out of fashion. And as we find ourselves looking back rather tenderly upon the author of Cyrano we wonder what this vice or quality is that is associated as plainly with Rostand’s merits as with his defects. His rhetoric, at least, suited him at times so well, and so much better than it suited a much greater poet, Baudelaire, who is at times as rhetorical as Rostand. And we begin to suspect that the word is merely a vague term of abuse for any style that is bad, that is so evidently bad or second-rate that we do not recognize the necessity for greater precision in the phrases we apply to it.

Our own Elizabethan and Jacobean poetry—in so nice a problem it is much safer to stick to one’s own language—is repeatedly called “rhetorical.” It had this and that notable quality, but, when we wish to admit that it had defects, it is rhetorical. It had serious defects, even gross faults, but we cannot be considered to have erased them from our language when we are so unclear in our perception of what they are. The fact is that both Elizabethan prose and Elizabethan poetry are written in a variety of 72 styles with a variety of vices. Is the style of Lyly, is Euphuism, rhetorical? In contrast to the elder style of Ascham and Elyot which it assaults, it is a clear, flowing, orderly and relatively pure style, with a systematic if monotonous formula of antitheses and similes. Is the style of Nashe? A tumid, flatulent, vigorous style very different from Lyly’s. Or it is perhaps the strained and the mixed figures of speech in which Shakespeare indulged himself. Or it is perhaps the careful declamation of Jonson. The word simply cannot be used as synonymous with bad writing. The meanings which it has been obliged to shoulder have been mostly opprobrious; but if a precise meaning can be found for it this meaning may occasionally represent a virtue. It is one of those words which it is the business of criticism to dissect and reassemble. Let us avoid the assumption that rhetoric is a vice of manner, and endeavour to find a rhetoric of substance also, which is right because it issues from what it has to express.

At the present time there is a manifest preference for the “conversational” in poetry—the style of “direct speech,” opposed to the “oratorical” and the rhetorical; but if rhetoric is any convention of writing inappropriately applied, this conversational style can and does become a rhetoric—or what is supposed to be a conversational style, for it is often as remote from polite discourse as well could be. Much of the second and third rate in American vers libre is of this sort; and much of the second and third rate in English Wordsworthianism. There is in fact no conversational or other form which can be 73 applied indiscriminately; if a writer wishes to give the effect of speech he must positively give the effect of himself talking in his own person or in one of his rôles; and if we are to express ourselves, our variety of thoughts and feelings, on a variety of subjects with inevitable rightness, we must adapt our manner to the moment with infinite variations. Examination of the development of Elizabethan drama shows this progress in adaptation, a development from monotony to variety, a progressive refinement in the perception of the variations of feeling, and a progressive elaboration of the means of expressing these variations. This drama is admitted to have grown away from the rhetorical expression, the bombast speeches, of Kyd and Marlowe to the subtle and dispersed utterance of Shakespeare and Webster. But this apparent abandonment or outgrowth of rhetoric is two things: it is partly an improvement in language and it is partly progressive variation in feeling. There is, of course, a long distance separating the furibund fluency of old Hieronimo and the broken words of Lear. There is also a difference between the famous

and the superb “additions to Hieronimo.” [7]

We think of Shakespeare perhaps as the dramatist who concentrates everything into a sentence, “Pray you undo this button,” or “Honest honest Iago”; we forget that there is a rhetoric proper to Shakespeare at his best period which is quite free from the 74 genuine Shakespearean vices either of the early period or the late. These passages are comparable to the best bombast of Kyd or Marlowe, with a greater command of language and a greater control of the emotion. The Spanish Tragedy is bombastic when it descends to language which was only the trick of its age; Tamburlaine is bombastic because it is monotonous, inflexible to the alterations of emotion. The really fine rhetoric of Shakespeare occurs in situations where a character in the play sees himself in a dramatic light:

It occurs also once in Antony and Cleopatra , when Enobarbus is inspired to see Cleopatra in this dramatic light:

Shakespeare made fun of Marston, and Jonson made fun of Kyd. But in Marston’s play the words were expressive of nothing; and Jonson was criticizing the feeble and conceited language, not the emotion, not the “oratory.” Jonson is as oratorical himself, and the moments when his oratory succeeds are, I believe, the moments that conform to our formula. Notably the speech of Sylla’s ghost in the induction to Catiline , and the speech of Envy at the beginning of The 75 Poetaster . These two figures are contemplating their own dramatic importance, and quite properly. But in the Senate speeches in Catiline , how tedious, how dusty! Here we are spectators not of a play of characters, but of a play of forensic, exactly as if we had been forced to attend the sitting itself. A speech in a play should never appear to be intended to move us as it might conceivably move other characters in the play, for it is essential that we should preserve our position of spectators, and observe always from the outside though with complete understanding. The scene in Julius Cæsar is right because the object of our attention is not the speech of Antony ( Bedeutung ) but the effect of his speech upon the mob, and Antony’s intention, his preparation and consciousness of the effect. And in the rhetorical speeches from Shakespeare which have been cited, we have this necessary advantage of a new clue to the character, in noting the angle from which he views himself. But when a character in a play makes a direct appeal to us, we are either the victims of our own sentiment, or we are in the presence of a vicious rhetoric.

These references ought to supply some evidence of the propriety of Cyrano on Noses. Is not Cyrano exactly in this position of contemplating himself as a romantic, a dramatic figure? This dramatic sense on the part of the characters themselves is rare in modern drama. In sentimental drama it appears in a degraded form, when we are evidently intended to accept the character’s sentimental interpretation of himself. In plays of realism we often find parts which are never allowed to be consciously dramatic, for fear, 76 perhaps, of their appearing less real. But in actual life, in many of those situations in actual life which we enjoy consciously and keenly, we are at times aware of ourselves in this way, and these moments are of very great usefulness to dramatic verse. A very small part of acting is that which takes place on the stage! Rostand had—whether he had anything else or not—this dramatic sense, and it is what gives life to Cyrano. It is a sense which is almost a sense of humour (for when anyone is conscious of himself as acting, something like a sense of humour is present). It gives Rostand’s characters—Cyrano at least—a gusto which is uncommon on the modern stage. No doubt Rostand’s people play up to this too steadily. We recognize that in the love scenes of Cyrano in the garden, for in Romeo and Juliet the profounder dramatist shows his lovers melting into incoherent unconsciousness of their isolated selves, shows the human soul in the process of forgetting itself. Rostand could not do that; but in the particular case of Cyrano on Noses, the character, the situation, the occasion were perfectly suited and combined. The tirade generated by this combination is not only genuinely and highly dramatic: it is possibly poetry also. If a writer is incapable of composing such a scene as this, so much the worse for his poetic drama.

Cyrano satisfies, as far as scenes like this can satisfy, the requirements of poetic drama. It must take genuine and substantial human emotions, such emotions as observation can confirm, typical emotions, and give them artistic form; the degree of abstraction is a question for the method of each author. In Shakespeare the form is determined in the unity of 77 the whole, as well as single scenes; it is something to attain this unity, as Rostand does, in scenes if not the whole play. Not only as a dramatist, but as a poet, he is superior to Maeterlinck, whose drama, in failing to be dramatic, fails also to be poetic. Maeterlinck has a literary perception of the dramatic and a literary perception of the poetic, and he joins the two; the two are not, as sometimes they are in the work of Rostand, fused. His characters take no conscious delight in their rôle—they are sentimental. With Rostand the centre of gravity is in the expression of the emotion, not as with Maeterlinck in the emotion which cannot be expressed. Some writers appear to believe that emotions gain in intensity through being inarticulate. Perhaps the emotions are not significant enough to endure full daylight.

In any case, we may take our choice: we may apply the term “rhetoric” to the type of dramatic speech which I have instanced, and then we must admit that it covers good as well as bad. Or we may choose to except this type of speech from rhetoric. In that case we must say that rhetoric is any adornment or inflation of speech which is not done for a particular effect but for a general impressiveness. And in this case, too, we cannot allow the term to cover all bad writing.

Some Notes on the Blank Verse of Christopher Marlowe

“Marloe was stabd with a dagger, and dyed swearing”

A more friendly critic, Mr. A. C. Swinburne, observes of this poet that “the father of English tragedy and the creator of English blank verse was therefore also the teacher and the guide of Shakespeare.” In this sentence there are two misleading assumptions and two misleading conclusions. Kyd has as good a title to the first honour as Marlowe; Surrey has a better title to the second; and Shakespeare was not taught or guided by one of his predecessors or contemporaries alone. The less questionable judgment is, that Marlowe exercised a strong influence over later drama, though not himself as great a dramatist as Kyd; that he introduced several new tones into blank verse, and commenced the dissociative process which drew it farther and farther away from the rhythms of rhymed verse; and that when Shakespeare borrowed from him, which was pretty often at the beginning, Shakespeare either made something inferior or something different.

The comparative study of English versification at various periods is a large tract of unwritten history. To make a study of blank verse alone, would be to 79 elicit some curious conclusions. It would show, I believe, that blank verse within Shakespeare’s lifetime was more highly developed, that it became the vehicle of more varied and more intense art-emotions than it has ever conveyed since; and that after the erection of the Chinese Wall of Milton, blank verse has suffered not only arrest but retrogression. That the blank verse of Tennyson, for example, a consummate master of this form in certain applications, is cruder ( not “rougher” or less perfect in technique) than that of half a dozen contemporaries of Shakespeare; cruder, because less capable of expressing complicated, subtle, and surprising emotions.

Every writer who has written any blank verse worth saving has produced particular tones which his verse and no other’s is capable of rendering; and we should keep this in mind when we talk about “influences” and “indebtedness.” Shakespeare is “universal” (if you like) because he has more of these tones than anyone else; but they are all out of the one man; one man cannot be more than one man; there might have been six Shakespeares at once without conflicting frontiers; and to say that Shakespeare expressed nearly all human emotions, implying that he left very little for anyone else, is a radical misunderstanding of art and the artist—a misunderstanding which, even when explicitly rejected, may lead to our neglecting the effort of attention necessary to discover the specific properties of the verse of Shakespeare’s contemporaries. The development of blank verse may be likened to the analysis of that astonishing industrial product coal-tar. Marlowe’s verse is one of the earlier derivatives, but it possesses properties which are not 80 repeated in any of the analytic or synthetic blank verses discovered somewhat later.

The “vices of style” of Marlowe’s and Shakespeare’s age is a convenient name for a number of vices, no one of which, perhaps, was shared by all of the writers. It is pertinent, at least, to remark that Marlowe’s “rhetoric” is not, or not characteristically, Shakespeare’s rhetoric; that Marlowe’s rhetoric consists in a pretty simple huffe-snuffe bombast, while Shakespeare’s is more exactly a vice of style, a tortured perverse ingenuity of images which dissipates instead of concentrating the imagination, and which may be due in part to influences by which Marlowe was untouched. Next, we find that Marlowe’s vice is one which he was gradually attenuating, and even, what is more miraculous, turning into a virtue. And we find that this bard of torrential imagination recognized many of his best bits (and those of one or two others), saved them, and reproduced them more than once, almost invariably improving them in the process.

It is worth while noticing a few of these versions, because they indicate, somewhat contrary to usual opinion, that Marlowe was a deliberate and conscious workman. Mr. J. G. Robertson has spotted an interesting theft of Marlowe’s from Spenser. Here is Spenser ( Faery Queen , I. vii. 32):

And here Marlowe ( Tamburlaine , Part II. Act IV. sc. iii.):

This is interesting, not only as showing that Marlowe’s talent, like that of most poets, was partly synthetic, but also because it seems to give a clue to some particularly “lyric” effects found in Tamburlaine , not in Marlowe’s other plays, and not, I believe, anywhere else. For example, the praise of Zenocrate in Part II. Act. II. sc. iv.:

This is not Spenser’s movement, but the influence of Spenser must be present. There had been no great blank verse before Marlowe; but there was the powerful presence of this great master of melody immediately precedent; and the combination produced results which could not be repeated. I do not think that it can be claimed that Peele had any influence here.

The passage quoted from Spenser has a further interest. It will be noted that the fourth line:

is Marlowe’s contribution. Compare this with these other lines of Marlowe:

82 and the final and best version:

and compare the whole set with Spenser again ( F. Q. ):

a passage which Mr. Robertson says Spenser himself used in three other places.

This economy is frequent in Marlowe. Within Tamburlaine it occurs in the form of monotony, especially in the facile use of resonant names ( e.g. the recurrence of “Caspia” or “Caspian” with the same tone effect), a practice in which Marlowe was followed by Milton, but which Marlowe himself outgrew. Again,

is paralleled later by

One line Marlowe remodels with triumphant success:

The verse accomplishments of Tamburlaine are notably two: Marlowe gets into blank verse the 83 melody of Spenser, and he gets a new driving power by reinforcing the sentence period against the line period. The rapid long sentence, running line into line, as in the famous soliloquies “Nature compounded of four elements” and “What is beauty, saith my sufferings, then?” marks the certain escape of blank verse from the rhymed couplet, and from the elegiac or rather pastoral note of Surrey, to which Tennyson returned. If you contrast these two soliloquies with the verse of Marlowe’s greatest contemporary, Kyd—by no means a despicable versifier—you see the importance of the innovation:

which is not really inferior to:

In Faustus Marlowe went farther: he broke up the line, to a gain in intensity, in the last soliloquy; and he developed a new and important conversational tone in the dialogues of Faustus with the devil. Edward II. has never lacked consideration: it is more desirable, in brief space, to remark upon two plays, one of which has been misunderstood and the other underrated. These are the Jew of Malta and Dido Queen of Carthage . Of the first of these, it has always been said that the end, even the last two acts, 84 are unworthy of the first three. If one takes the Jew of Malta not as a tragedy, or as a “tragedy of blood,” but as a farce, the concluding act becomes intelligible; and if we attend with a careful ear to the versification, we find that Marlowe develops a tone to suit this farce, and even perhaps that this tone is his most powerful and mature tone. I say farce, but with the enfeebled humour of our times the word is a misnomer; it is the farce of the old English humour, the terribly serious, even savage comic humour, the humour which spent its last breath on the decadent genius of Dickens. It has nothing in common with J. M. Barrie, Captain Bairnsfather, or Punch . It is the humour of that very serious (but very different) play, Volpone .

and the last words of Barabas complete this prodigious caricature:

It is something which Shakespeare could not do, and which he could not have understood.

Dido appears to be a hurried play, perhaps done to order with the Æneid in front of him. But even here there is progress. The account of the sack of Troy is in this newer style of Marlowe’s, this style which 85 secures its emphasis by always hesitating on the edge of caricature at the right moment:

This is not Vergil, or Shakespeare; it is pure Marlowe. By comparing the whole speech with Clarence’s dream, in Richard III. , one acquires a little insight into the difference between Marlowe and Shakespeare:

There, on the other hand, is what Marlowe’s style could not do; the phrase has a concision which is almost classical, certainly Dantesque. Again, as often with the Elizabethan dramatists, there are lines in Marlowe, besides the many lines that Shakespeare adapted, that might have been written by either:

86 But the direction in which Marlowe’s verse might have moved, had he not “dyed swearing,” is quite un-Shakespearean, is toward this intense and serious and indubitably great poetry, which, like some great painting and sculpture, attains its effects by something not unlike caricature.

Hamlet and His Problems

Few critics have even admitted that Hamlet the play is the primary problem, and Hamlet the character only secondary. And Hamlet the character has had an especial temptation for that most dangerous type of critic: the critic with a mind which is naturally of the creative order, but which through some weakness in creative power exercises itself in criticism instead. These minds often find in Hamlet a vicarious existence for their own artistic realization. Such a mind had Goethe, who made of Hamlet a Werther; and such had Coleridge, who made of Hamlet a Coleridge; and probably neither of these men in writing about Hamlet remembered that his first business was to study a work of art. The kind of criticism that Goethe and Coleridge produced, in writing of Hamlet, is the most misleading kind possible. For they both possessed unquestionable critical insight, and both make their critical aberrations the more plausible by the substitution—of their own Hamlet for Shakespeare’s—which their creative gift effects. We should be thankful that Walter Pater did not fix his attention on this play.

Two recent writers, Mr. J. M. Robertson and Professor Stoll of the University of Minnesota, have issued small books which can be praised for moving in the other direction. Mr. Stoll performs a service 88 in recalling to our attention the labours of the critics of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, [8] observing that

they knew less about psychology than more recent Hamlet critics, but they were nearer in spirit to Shakespeare’s art; and as they insisted on the importance of the effect of the whole rather than on the importance of the leading character, they were nearer, in their old-fashioned way, to the secret of dramatic art in general.

Qua work of art, the work of art cannot be interpreted; there is nothing to interpret; we can only criticize it according to standards, in comparison to other works of art; and for “interpretation” the chief task is the presentation of relevant historical facts which the reader is not assumed to know. Mr. Robertson points out, very pertinently, how critics have failed in their “interpretation” of Hamlet by ignoring what ought to be very obvious: that Hamlet is a stratification, that it represents the efforts of a series of men, each making what he could out of the work of his predecessors. The Hamlet of Shakespeare will appear to us very differently if, instead of treating the whole action of the play as due to Shakespeare’s design, we perceive his Hamlet to be superposed upon much cruder material which persists even in the final form.

We know that there was an older play by Thomas Kyd, that extraordinary dramatic (if not poetic) genius who was in all probability the author of two plays so dissimilar as the Spanish Tragedy and Arden of 89 Feversham ; and what this play was like we can guess from three clues: from the Spanish Tragedy itself, from the tale of Belleforest upon which Kyd’s Hamlet must have been based, and from a version acted in Germany in Shakespeare’s lifetime which bears strong evidence of having been adapted from the earlier, not from the later, play. From these three sources it is clear that in the earlier play the motive was a revenge-motive simply; that the action or delay is caused, as in the Spanish Tragedy , solely by the difficulty of assassinating a monarch surrounded by guards; and that the “madness” of Hamlet was feigned in order to escape suspicion, and successfully. In the final play of Shakespeare, on the other hand, there is a motive which is more important than that of revenge, and which explicitly “blunts” the latter; the delay in revenge is unexplained on grounds of necessity or expediency; and the effect of the “madness” is not to lull but to arouse the king’s suspicion. The alteration is not complete enough, however, to be convincing. Furthermore, there are verbal parallels so close to the Spanish Tragedy as to leave no doubt that in places Shakespeare was merely revising the text of Kyd. And finally there are unexplained scenes—the Polonius-Laertes and the Polonius-Reynaldo scenes—for which there is little excuse; these scenes are not in the verse style of Kyd, and not beyond doubt in the style of Shakespeare. These Mr. Robertson believes to be scenes in the original play of Kyd reworked by a third hand, perhaps Chapman, before Shakespeare touched the play. And he concludes, with very strong show of reason, that the original play of Kyd was, like certain other revenge plays, 90 in two parts of five acts each. The upshot of Mr. Robertson’s examination is, we believe, irrefragable: that Shakespeare’s Hamlet , so far as it is Shakespeare’s, is a play dealing with the effect of a mother’s guilt upon her son, and that Shakespeare was unable to impose this motive successfully upon the “intractable” material of the old play.

Of the intractability there can be no doubt. So far from being Shakespeare’s masterpiece, the play is most certainly an artistic failure. In several ways the play is puzzling, and disquieting as is none of the others. Of all the plays it is the longest and is possibly the one on which Shakespeare spent most pains; and yet he has left in it superfluous and inconsistent scenes which even hasty revision should have noticed. The versification is variable. Lines like

are of the Shakespeare of Romeo and Juliet . The lines in Act V. sc. ii.,

are of his quite mature. Both workmanship and thought are in an unstable condition. We are surely justified in attributing the play, with that other profoundly interesting play of “intractable” material and astonishing versification, Measure for Measure , to a period of crisis, after which follow the tragic successes 91 which culminate in Coriolanus . Coriolanus may be not as “interesting” as Hamlet , but it is, with Antony and Cleopatra , Shakespeare’s most assured artistic success. And probably more people have thought Hamlet a work of art because they found it interesting, than have found it interesting because it is a work of art. It is the “Mona Lisa” of literature.

The grounds of Hamlet’s failure are not immediately obvious. Mr. Robertson is undoubtedly correct in concluding that the essential emotion of the play is the feeling of a son towards a guilty mother:

[Hamlet’s] tone is that of one who has suffered tortures on the score of his mother’s degradation.... The guilt of a mother is an almost intolerable motive for drama, but it had to be maintained and emphasized to supply a psychological solution, or rather a hint of one.

This, however, is by no means the whole story. It is not merely the “guilt of a mother” that cannot be handled as Shakespeare handled the suspicion of Othello, the infatuation of Antony, or the pride of Coriolanus. The subject might conceivably have expanded into a tragedy like these, intelligible, self-complete, in the sunlight. Hamlet , like the sonnets, is full of some stuff that the writer could not drag to light, contemplate, or manipulate into art. And when we search for this feeling, we find it, as in the sonnets, very difficult to localize. You cannot point to it in the speeches; indeed, if you examine the two famous soliloquies you see the versification of Shakespeare, but a content which might be claimed 92 by another, perhaps by the author of the Revenge of Bussy d’Ambois , Act V. sc. i. We find Shakespeare’s Hamlet not in the action, not in any quotations that we might select, so much as in an unmistakable tone which is unmistakably not in the earlier play.

The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an “objective correlative”; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked. If you examine any of Shakespeare’s more successful tragedies, you will find this exact equivalence; you will find that the state of mind of Lady Macbeth walking in her sleep has been communicated to you by a skilful accumulation of imagined sensory impressions; the words of Macbeth on hearing of his wife’s death strike us as if, given the sequence of events, these words were automatically released by the last event in the series. The artistic “inevitability” lies in this complete adequacy of the external to the emotion; and this is precisely what is deficient in Hamlet . Hamlet (the man) is dominated by an emotion which is inexpressible, because it is in excess of the facts as they appear. And the supposed identity of Hamlet with his author is genuine to this point: that Hamlet’s bafflement at the absence of objective equivalent to his feelings is a prolongation of the bafflement of his creator in the face of his artistic problem. Hamlet is up against the difficulty that his disgust is occasioned by his mother, but that his mother is not an adequate equivalent for it; his disgust envelops and exceeds her. It is thus 93 a feeling which he cannot understand; he cannot objectify it, and it therefore remains to poison life and obstruct action. None of the possible actions can satisfy it; and nothing that Shakespeare can do with the plot can express Hamlet for him. And it must be noticed that the very nature of the données of the problem precludes objective equivalence. To have heightened the criminality of Gertrude would have been to provide the formula for a totally different emotion in Hamlet; it is just because her character is so negative and insignificant that she arouses in Hamlet the feeling which she is incapable of representing.

The “madness” of Hamlet lay to Shakespeare’s hand; in the earlier play a simple ruse, and to the end, we may presume, understood as a ruse by the audience. For Shakespeare it is less than madness and more than feigned. The levity of Hamlet, his repetition of phrase, his puns, are not part of a deliberate plan of dissimulation, but a form of emotional relief. In the character Hamlet it is the buffoonery of an emotion which can find no outlet in action; in the dramatist it is the buffoonery of an emotion which he cannot express in art. The intense feeling, ecstatic or terrible, without an object or exceeding its object, is something which every person of sensibility has known; it is doubtless a study to pathologists. It often occurs in adolescence: the ordinary person puts these feelings to sleep, or trims down his feeling to fit the business world; the artist keeps it alive by his ability to intensify the world to his emotions. The Hamlet of Laforgue is an adolescent; the Hamlet of Shakespeare is not, he has 94 not that explanation and excuse. We must simply admit that here Shakespeare tackled a problem which proved too much for him. Why he attempted it at all is an insoluble puzzle; under compulsion of what experience he attempted to express the inexpressibly horrible, we cannot ever know. We need a great many facts in his biography; and we should like to know whether, and when, and after or at the same time as what personal experience, he read Montaigne, II. xii., Apologie de Raimond Sebond . We should have, finally, to know something which is by hypothesis unknowable, for we assume it to be an experience which, in the manner indicated, exceeded the facts. We should have to understand things which Shakespeare did not understand himself.

The reputation of Jonson has been of the most deadly kind that can be compelled upon the memory of a great poet. To be universally accepted; to be damned by the praise that quenches all desire to read the book; to be afflicted by the imputation of the virtues which excite the least pleasure; and to be read only by historians and antiquaries—this is the most perfect conspiracy of approval. For some generations the reputation of Jonson has been carried rather as a liability than as an asset in the balance-sheet of English literature. No critic has succeeded in making him appear pleasurable or even interesting. Swinburne’s book on Jonson satisfies no curiosity and stimulates no thought. For the critical study in the “Men of Letters Series” by Mr. Gregory Smith there is a place; it satisfies curiosity, it supplies many just observations, it provides valuable matter on the neglected masques; it only fails to remodel the image of Jonson which is settled in our minds. Probably the fault lies with several generations of our poets. It is not that the value of poetry is only its value to living poets for their own work; but appreciation is akin to creation, and true enjoyment of poetry is related to the stirring of suggestion, the stimulus that 96 a poet feels in his enjoyment of other poetry. Jonson has provided no creative stimulus for a very long time; consequently we must look back as far as Dryden—precisely, a poetic practitioner who learned from Jonson—before we find a living criticism of Jonson’s work.

Yet there are possibilities for Jonson even now. We have no difficulty in seeing what brought him to this pass; how, in contrast, not with Shakespeare, but with Marlowe, Webster, Donne, Beaumont, and Fletcher, he has been paid out with reputation instead of enjoyment. He is no less a poet than these men, but his poetry is of the surface. Poetry of the surface cannot be understood without study; for to deal with the surface of life, as Jonson dealt with it, is to deal so deliberately that we too must be deliberate, in order to understand. Shakespeare, and smaller men also, are in the end more difficult, but they offer something at the start to encourage the student or to satisfy those who want nothing more; they are suggestive, evocative, a phrase, a voice; they offer poetry in detail as well as in design. So does Dante offer something, a phrase everywhere ( tu se’ ombra ed ombra vedi ) even to readers who have no Italian; and Dante and Shakespeare have poetry of design as well as of detail. But the polished veneer of Jonson reflects only the lazy reader’s fatuity; unconscious does not respond to unconscious; no swarms of inarticulate feelings are aroused. The immediate appeal of Jonson is to the mind; his emotional tone is not in the single verse, but in the design of the whole. But not many people are capable of discovering for themselves the beauty which is only found after labour; and Jonson’s industrious readers have 97 been those whose interest was historical and curious, and those who have thought that in discovering the historical and curious interest they had discovered the artistic value as well. When we say that Jonson requires study, we do not mean study of his classical scholarship or of seventeenth-century manners. We mean intelligent saturation in his work as a whole; we mean that in order to enjoy him at all, we must get to the centre of his work and his temperament, and that we must see him unbiased by time, as a contemporary. And to see him as a contemporary does not so much require the power of putting ourselves into seventeenth-century London as it requires the power of setting Jonson in our London: a more difficult triumph of divination.

It is generally conceded that Jonson failed as a tragic dramatist; and it is usually agreed that he failed because his genius was for satiric comedy and because of the weight of pedantic learning with which he burdened his two tragic failures. The second point marks an obvious error of detail; the first is too crude a statement to be accepted; to say that he failed because his genius was unsuited to tragedy is to tell us nothing at all. Jonson did not write a good tragedy, but we can see no reason why he should not have written one. If two plays so different as The Tempest and The Silent Woman are both comedies, surely the category of tragedy could be made wide enough to include something possible for Jonson to have done. But the classification of tragedy and comedy, while it may be sufficient to mark the distinction in a dramatic literature of more rigid form and treatment—it may distinguish Aristophanes 98 from Euripides—is not adequate to a drama of such variations as the Elizabethans. Tragedy is a crude classification for plays so different in their tone as Macbeth , The Jew of Malta , and The Witch of Edmonton ; and it does not help us much to say that The Merchant of Venice and The Alchemist are comedies. Jonson had his own scale, his own instrument. The merit which Catiline possesses is the same merit that is exhibited more triumphantly in Volpone ; Catiline fails, not because it is too laboured and conscious, but because it is not conscious enough; because Jonson in this play was not alert to his own idiom, not clear in his mind as to what his temperament wanted him to do. In Catiline Jonson conforms, or attempts to conform, to conventions; not to the conventions of antiquity, which he had exquisitely under control, but to the conventions of tragico-historical drama of his time. It is not the Latin erudition that sinks Catiline , but the application of that erudition to a form which was not the proper vehicle for the mind which had amassed the erudition.

If you look at Catiline —that dreary Pyrrhic victory of tragedy—you find two passages to be successful: Act II. scene i, the dialogue of the political ladies, and the Prologue of Sylla’s ghost. These two passages are genial. The soliloquy of the ghost is a characteristic Jonson success in content and in versification—

This is the learned, but also the creative, Jonson. Without concerning himself with the character of Sulla, and in lines of invective, Jonson makes Sylla’s ghost, while the words are spoken, a living and terrible force. The words fall with as determined beat as if they were the will of the morose Dictator himself. You may say: merely invective; but mere invective, even if as superior to the clumsy fisticuffs of Marston and Hall as Jonson’s verse is superior to theirs, would not create a living figure as Jonson has done in this long tirade. And you may say: rhetoric; but if we are to call it “rhetoric” we must subject that term to a closer dissection than any to which it is accustomed. What Jonson has done here is not merely a fine speech. It is the careful, precise filling in of a strong and simple outline, and at no point does it overflow the outline; it is far more careful and precise in its obedience to this outline than are many of the speeches in Tamburlaine . The outline is not Sulla, for Sulla has nothing to do with it, but “Sylla’s ghost.” The words may not be suitable to an historical Sulla, or to anybody in history, but they are a perfect expression for “Sylla’s ghost.” You cannot say they are rhetorical “because people do not talk like that,” you cannot call them “verbiage”; they do not exhibit prolixity or redundancy or the other vices in the rhetoric books; there is a definite artistic emotion which demands expression at that length. The words themselves are mostly simple 100 words, the syntax is natural, the language austere rather than adorned. Turning then to the induction of The Poetaster , we find another success of the same kind—

Men may not talk in that way, but the spirit of envy does, and in the words of Jonson envy is a real and living person. It is not human life that informs envy and Sylla’s ghost, but it is energy of which human life is only another variety.

Returning to Catiline , we find that the best scene in the body of the play is one which cannot be squeezed into a tragic frame, and which appears to belong to satiric comedy. The scene between Fulvia and Galla and Sempronia is a living scene in a wilderness of oratory. And as it recalls other scenes—there is a suggestion of the college of ladies in The Silent Woman —it looks like a comedy scene. And it appears to be satire.

This scene is no more comedy than it is tragedy, and the “satire” is merely a medium for the essential emotion. Jonson’s drama is only incidentally satire, because it is only incidentally a criticism upon the 101 actual world. It is not satire in the way in which the work of Swift or the work of Molière may be called satire: that is, it does not find its source in any precise emotional attitude or precise intellectual criticism of the actual world. It is satire perhaps as the work of Rabelais is satire; certainly not more so. The important thing is that if fiction can be divided into creative fiction and critical fiction, Jonson’s is creative. That he was a great critic, our first great critic, does not affect this assertion. Every creator is also a critic; Jonson was a conscious critic, but he was also conscious in his creations. Certainly, one sense in which the term “critical” may be applied to fiction is a sense in which the term might be used of a method antithetical to Jonson’s. It is the method of Education Sentimentale . The characters of Jonson, of Shakespeare, perhaps of all the greatest drama, are drawn in positive and simple outlines. They may be filled in, and by Shakespeare they are filled in, by much detail or many shifting aspects; but a clear and sharp and simple form remains through these—though it would be hard to say in what the clarity and sharpness and simplicity of Hamlet consists. But Frédéric Moreau is not made in that way. He is constructed partly by negative definition, built up by a great number of observations. We cannot isolate him from the environment in which we find him; it may be an environment which is or can be much universalized; nevertheless it, and the figure in it, consist of very many observed particular facts, the actual world. Without this world the figure dissolves. The ruling faculty is a critical perception, a commentary upon experienced feeling 102 and sensation. If this is true of Flaubert, it is true in a higher degree of Molière than of Jonson. The broad farcical lines of Molière may seem to be the same drawing as Jonson’s. But Molière—say in Alceste or Monsieur Jourdain—is criticizing the actual; the reference to the actual world is more direct. And having a more tenuous reference, the work of Jonson is much less directly satirical.

This leads us to the question of Humours. Largely on the evidence of the two Humour plays, it is sometimes assumed that Jonson is occupied with types; typical exaggerations, or exaggerations of type. The Humour definition, the expressed intention of Jonson, may be satisfactory for these two plays. Every Man in his Humour is the first mature work of Jonson, and the student of Jonson must study it; but it is not the play in which Jonson found his genius: it is the last of his plays to read first. If one reads Volpone , and after that re-reads the Jew of Malta ; then returns to Jonson and reads Bartholomew Fair , The Alchemist , Epicœne and The Devil is an Ass , and finally Catiline , it is possible to arrive at a fair opinion of the poet and the dramatist.

The Humour, even at the beginning, is not a type, as in Marston’s satire, but a simplified and somewhat distorted individual with a typical mania. In the later work, the Humour definition quite fails to account for the total effect produced. The characters of Shakespeare are such as might exist in different circumstances than those in which Shakespeare sets them. The latter appear to be those which extract from the characters the most intense and interesting realization; but that realization has not exhausted 103 their possibilities. Volpone’s life, on the other hand, is bounded by the scene in which it is played; in fact, the life is the life of the scene and is derivatively the life of Volpone; the life of the character is inseparable from the life of the drama. This is not dependence upon a background, or upon a substratum of fact. The emotional effect is single and simple. Whereas in Shakespeare the effect is due to the way in which the characters act upon one another, in Jonson it is given by the way in which the characters fit in with each other. The artistic result of Volpone is not due to any effect that Volpone, Mosca, Corvino, Corbaccio, Voltore have upon each other, but simply to their combination into a whole. And these figures are not personifications of passions; separately, they have not even that reality, they are constituents. It is a similar indication of Jonson’s method that you can hardly pick out a line of Jonson’s and say confidently that it is great poetry; but there are many extended passages to which you cannot deny that honour.

Jonson is the legitimate heir of Marlowe. The man who wrote, in Volpone :

is related to Marlowe as a poet; and if Marlowe is a poet, Jonson is also. And, if Jonson’s comedy is a comedy of humours, then Marlowe’s tragedy, a large part of it, is a tragedy of humours. But Jonson has too exclusively been considered as the typical representative of a point of view toward comedy. He has suffered from his great reputation as a critic and theorist, from the effects of his intelligence. We have been taught to think of him as the man, the dictator (confusedly in our minds with his later namesake), as the literary politician impressing his views upon a generation; we are offended by the constant reminder of his scholarship. We forget the comedy in the humours, and the serious artist in the scholar. Jonson has suffered in public opinion, as anyone must suffer who is forced to talk about his art.

If you examine the first hundred lines or more of Volpone the verse appears to be in the manner of Marlowe, more deliberate, more mature, but without Marlowe’s inspiration. It looks like mere “rhetoric,” certainly not “deeds and language such as men do use”! It appears to us, in fact, forced and flagitious bombast. That it is not “rhetoric,” or at least not vicious rhetoric, we do not know until we are able to review the whole play. For the consistent maintenance of this manner conveys in the end an effect not of verbosity, but of bold, even shocking and 105 terrifying directness. We have difficulty in saying exactly what produces this simple and single effect. It is not in any ordinary way due to management of intrigue. Jonson employs immense dramatic constructive skill: it is not so much skill in plot as skill in doing without a plot. He never manipulates as complicated a plot as that of The Merchant of Venice ; he has in his best plays nothing like the intrigue of Restoration comedy. In Bartholomew Fair it is hardly a plot at all; the marvel of the play is the bewildering rapid chaotic action of the fair; it is the fair itself, not anything that happens to take place in the fair. In Volpone , or The Alchemist , or The Silent Woman , the plot is enough to keep the players in motion; it is rather an “action” than a plot. The plot does not hold the play together; what holds the play together is a unity of inspiration that radiates into plot and personages alike.

We have attempted to make more precise the sense in which it was said that Jonson’s work is “of the surface”; carefully avoiding the word “superficial.” For there is work contemporary with Jonson’s which is superficial in a pejorative sense in which the word cannot be applied to Jonson—the work of Beaumont and Fletcher. If we look at the work of Jonson’s great contemporaries, Shakespeare, and also Donne and Webster and Tourneur (and sometimes Middleton), have a depth, a third dimension, as Mr. Gregory Smith rightly calls it, which Jonson’s work has not. Their words have often a network of tentacular roots reaching down to the deepest terrors and desires. Jonson’s most certainly have not; but in Beaumont and Fletcher we may think that at times we find it. 106 Looking closer, we discover that the blossoms of Beaumont and Fletcher’s imagination draw no sustenance from the soil, but are cut and slightly withered flowers stuck into sand.

Detached from its context, this looks like the verse of the greater poets; just as lines of Jonson, detached from their context, look like inflated or empty fustian. But the evocative quality of the verse of Beaumont and Fletcher depends upon a clever appeal to emotions and associations which they have not themselves grasped; it is hollow. It is superficial with a vacuum behind it; the superficies of Jonson is solid. It is what it is; it does not pretend to be another thing. But it is so very conscious and deliberate that we must look with eyes alert to the whole before we apprehend the significance of any part. We cannot call a man’s work superficial when it is the creation of a world; a man cannot be accused of dealing superficially with the world which he himself has created; the superficies is the world. Jonson’s characters conform to the logic of the emotions of their world. It is a world like Lobatchevsky’s; the worlds created by artists like Jonson are like systems of non-Euclidean geometry. They are not fancy, because they have a logic of their own; and this logic illuminates the actual world, 107 because it gives us a new point of view from which to inspect it.

A writer of power and intelligence, Jonson endeavoured to promulgate, as a formula and programme of reform, what he chose to do himself; and he not unnaturally laid down in abstract theory what is in reality a personal point of view. And it is in the end of no value to discuss Jonson’s theory and practice unless we recognize and seize this point of view, which escapes the formulæ, and which is what makes his plays worth reading. Jonson behaved as the great creative mind that he was: he created his own world, a world from which his followers, as well as the dramatists who were trying to do something wholly different, are excluded. Remembering this, we turn to Mr. Gregory Smith’s objection—that Jonson’s characters lack the third dimension, have no life out of the theatrical existence in which they appear—and demand an inquest. The objection implies that the characters are purely the work of intellect, or the result of superficial observation of a world which is faded or mildewed. It implies that the characters are lifeless. But if we dig beneath the theory, beneath the observation, beneath the deliberate drawing and the theatrical and dramatic elaboration, there is discovered a kind of power, animating Volpone, Busy, Fitzdottrel, the literary ladies of Epicœne , even Bobadil, which comes from below the intellect, and for which no theory of humours will account. And it is the same kind of power which vivifies Trimalchio, and Panurge, and some but not all of the “comic” characters of Dickens. The fictive life of this kind is not to be circumscribed 108 by a reference to “comedy” or to “farce”; it is not exactly the kind of life which informs the characters of Molière or that which informs those of Marivaux—two writers who were, besides, doing something quite different the one from the other. But it is something which distinguishes Barabas from Shylock, Epicure Mammon from Falstaff, Faustus from—if you will—Macbeth; Marlowe and Jonson from Shakespeare and the Shakespearians, Webster, and Tourneur. It is not merely Humours: for neither Volpone nor Mosca is a humour. No theory of humours could account for Jonson’s best plays or the best characters in them. We want to know at what point the comedy of humours passes into a work of art, and why Jonson is not Brome.

The creation of a work of art, we will say the creation of a character in a drama, consists in the process of transfusion of the personality, or, in a deeper sense, the life, of the author into the character. This is a very different matter from the orthodox creation in one’s own image. The ways in which the passions and desires of the creator may be satisfied in the work of art are complex and devious. In a painter they may take the form of a predilection for certain colours, tones, or lightings; in a writer the original impulse may be even more strangely transmuted. Now, we may say with Mr. Gregory Smith that Falstaff or a score of Shakespeare’s characters have a “third dimension” that Jonson’s have not. This will mean, not that Shakespeare’s spring from the feelings or imagination and Jonson’s from the intellect or invention; they have equally an emotional source; but that Shakespeare’s represent a more complex tissue of 109 feelings and desires, as well as a more supple, a more susceptible temperament. Falstaff is not only the roast Malmesbury ox with the pudding in his belly; he also “grows old,” and, finally, his nose is as sharp as a pen. He was perhaps the satisfaction of more, and of more complicated feelings; and perhaps he was, as the great tragic characters must have been, the offspring of deeper, less apprehensible feelings: deeper, but not necessarily stronger or more intense, than those of Jonson. It is obvious that the spring of the difference is not the difference between feeling and thought, or superior insight, superior perception, on the part of Shakespeare, but his susceptibility to a greater range of emotion, and emotion deeper and more obscure. But his characters are no more “alive” than are the characters of Jonson.

The world they live in is a larger one. But small worlds—the worlds which artists create—do not differ only in magnitude; if they are complete worlds, drawn to scale in every part, they differ in kind also. And Jonson’s world has this scale. His type of personality found its relief in something falling under the category of burlesque or farce—though when you are dealing with a unique world, like his, these terms fail to appease the desire for definition. It is not, at all events, the farce of Molière: the latter is more analytic, more an intellectual redistribution. It is not defined by the word “satire.” Jonson poses as a satirist. But satire like Jonson’s is great in the end not by hitting off its object, but by creating it; the satire is merely the means which leads to the æsthetic result, the impulse which projects a new world into a new orbit. In Every Man in his Humour there is 110 a neat, a very neat, comedy of humours. In discovering and proclaiming in this play the new genre Jonson was simply recognizing, unconsciously, the route which opened out in the proper direction for his instincts. His characters are and remain, like Marlowe’s, simplified characters; but the simplification does not consist in the dominance of a particular humour or monomania. That is a very superficial account of it. The simplification consists largely in reduction of detail, in the seizing of aspects relevant to the relief of an emotional impulse which remains the same for that character, in making the character conform to a particular setting. This stripping is essential to the art, to which is also essential a flat distortion in the drawing; it is an art of caricature, of great caricature, like Marlowe’s. It is a great caricature, which is beautiful; and a great humour, which is serious. The “world” of Jonson is sufficiently large; it is a world of poetic imagination; it is sombre. He did not get the third dimension, but he was not trying to get it.

If we approach Jonson with less frozen awe of his learning, with a clearer understanding of his “rhetoric” and its applications, if we grasp the fact that the knowledge required of the reader is not archæology but knowledge of Jonson, we can derive not only instruction in non Euclidean humanity—but enjoyment. We can even apply him, be aware of him as a part of our literary inheritance craving further expression. Of all the dramatists of his time, Jonson is probably the one whom the present age would find the most sympathetic, if it knew him. There is a brutality, a lack of sentiment, a polished surface, a handling of 111 large bold designs in brilliant colours, which ought to attract about three thousand people in London and elsewhere. At least, if we had a contemporary Shakespeare and a contemporary Jonson, it would be the Jonson who would arouse the enthusiasm of the intelligentsia! Though he is saturated in literature, he never sacrifices the theatrical qualities—theatrical in the most favourable sense—to literature or to the study of character. His work is a titanic show. But Jonson’s masques, an important part of his work, are neglected; our flaccid culture lets shows and literature fade, but prefers faded literature to faded shows. There are hundreds of people who have read Comus to ten who have read the Masque of Blackness . Comus contains fine poetry, and poetry exemplifying some merits to which Jonson’s masque poetry cannot pretend. Nevertheless, Comus is the death of the masque; it is the transition of a form of art—even of a form which existed for but a short generation—into “literature,” literature cast in a form which has lost its application. Even though Comus was a masque at Ludlow Castle, Jonson had, what Milton came perhaps too late to have, a sense for living art; his art was applied. The masques can still be read, and with pleasure, by anyone who will take the trouble—a trouble which in this part of Jonson is, indeed, a study of antiquities—to imagine them in action, displayed with the music, costume, dances, and the scenery of Inigo Jones. They are additional evidence that Jonson had a fine sense of form, of the purpose for which a particular form is intended; evidence that he was a literary artist even more than he was a man of letters.

Philip Massinger

Massinger has been more fortunately and more fairly judged than several of his greater contemporaries. Three critics have done their best by him: the notes of Coleridge exemplify Coleridge’s fragmentary and fine perceptions; the essay of Leslie Stephen is a piece of formidable destructive analysis; and the essay of Swinburne is Swinburne’s criticism at its best. None of these, probably, has put Massinger finally and irrefutably into a place.

English criticism is inclined to argue or persuade rather than to state; and, instead of forcing the subject to expose himself, these critics have left in their work an undissolved residuum of their own good taste, which, however impeccable, is something that requires our faith. The principles which animate this taste remain unexplained. Mr. Cruickshank’s book is a work of scholarship; and the advantage of good scholarship is that it presents us with evidence which is an invitation to the critical faculty of the reader: it bestows a method, rather than a judgment.

It is difficult—it is perhaps the supreme difficulty of criticism—to make the facts generalize themselves; but Mr. Cruickshank at least presents us with facts 113 which are capable of generalization. This is a service of value; and it is therefore wholly a compliment to the author to say that his appendices are as valuable as the essay itself.

The sort of labour to which Mr. Cruickshank has devoted himself is one that professed critics ought more willingly to undertake. It is an important part of criticism, more important than any mere expression of opinion. To understand Elizabethan drama it is necessary to study a dozen playwrights at once, to dissect with all care the complex growth, to ponder collaboration to the utmost line. Reading Shakespeare and several of his contemporaries is pleasure enough, perhaps all the pleasure possible, for most. But if we wish to consummate and refine this pleasure by understanding it, to distil the last drop of it, to press and press the essence of each author, to apply exact measurement to our own sensations, then we must compare; and we cannot compare without parcelling the threads of authorship and influence. We must employ Mr. Cruickshank’s method to examine Mr. Cruickshank’s judgments; and perhaps the most important judgment to which he has committed himself is this:—

Massinger, in his grasp of stagecraft, his flexible metre, his desire in the sphere of ethics to exploit both vice and virtue, is typical of an age which had much culture, but which, without being exactly corrupt, lacked moral fibre.

Here, in fact, is our text: to elucidate this sentence would be to account for Massinger. We begin vaguely with good taste, by a recognition that 114 Massinger is inferior: can we trace this inferiority, dissolve it, and have left any element of merit?

We turn first to the parallel quotations from Massinger and Shakespeare collocated by Mr. Cruickshank to make manifest Massinger’s indebtedness. One of the surest of tests is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest. Chapman borrowed from Seneca; Shakespeare and Webster from Montaigne. The two great followers of Shakespeare, Webster and Tourneur, in their mature work do not borrow from him; he is too close to them to be of use to them in this way. Massinger, as Mr. Cruickshank shows, borrows from Shakespeare a good deal. Let us profit by some of the quotations with which he has provided us—

Massinger’s is a general rhetorical question, the language just and pure, but colourless. Shakespeare’s 115 has particular significance; and the adjective “drowsy” and the verb “medecine” infuse a precise vigour. This is, on Massinger’s part, an echo rather than an imitation or a plagiarism—the basest, because least conscious form of borrowing. “Drowsy syrop” is a condensation of meaning frequent in Shakespeare, but rare in Massinger.

Here, again, Massinger gives the general forensic statement, Shakespeare the particular image. “Indirect crook’d” is forceful in Shakespeare; a mere pleonasm in Massinger. “Crook’d ways” is a metaphor; Massinger’s phrase only the ghost of a metaphor.

Here the lines of Massinger have their own beauty. Still, a “bright exhalation” appears to the eye and makes us catch our breath in the evening; “meteor” is a dim simile; the word is worn.

In the preceding passage Massinger had squeezed his simile to death, here he drags it round the city at his heels; and how swift Shakespeare’s figure is! We may add two more passages, not given by our commentator; here the model is Webster. They occur on the same page, an artless confession.

is hardly comparable to “the Cardinal lifts up his nose like a foul porpoise before a storm,” and when we come upon

it is unnecessary to turn up the great lines in the Duchess of Malfi . Massinger fancied this galley-slave; for he comes with his oar again in the Bondman —

Now these are mature plays; and the Roman Actor (from which we have drawn the two previous extracts) is said to have been the preferred play of its author.

We may conclude directly from these quotations that Massinger’s feeling for language had outstripped his feeling for things; that his eye and his vocabulary were not in close co-operation. One of the greatest distinctions of several of his elder contemporaries—we name Middleton, Webster, Tourneur—is a gift 117 for combining, for fusing into a single phrase, two or more diverse impressions.

of Shakespeare is such a fusion; the metaphor identifies itself with what suggests it; the resultant is one and is unique—

These lines of Tourneur and of Middleton exhibit that perpetual slight alteration of language, words perpetually juxtaposed in new and sudden combinations, meanings perpetually eingeschachtelt into meanings, which evidences a very high development of the senses, a development of the English language which we have perhaps never equalled. And, indeed, with the end of Chapman, Middleton, Webster, Tourneur, Donne we end a period when the intellect was immediately at the tips of the senses. Sensation became word and the word was sensation. The next period is the period of Milton (though still with a Marvell in it); and this period is initiated by Massinger.

It is not that the word becomes less exact. Massinger is, in a wholly eulogistic sense, choice and correct. And the decay of the senses is not inconsistent with a greater sophistication of language. But every vital development in language is a 118 development of feeling as well. The verse of Shakespeare and the major Shakespearian dramatists is an innovation of this kind, a true mutation of species. The verse practised by Massinger is a different verse from that of his predecessors; but it is not a development based on, or resulting from, a new way of feeling. On the contrary, it seems to lead us away from feeling altogether.

We mean that Massinger must be placed as much at the beginning of one period as at the end of another. A certain Boyle, quoted by Mr. Cruickshank, says that Milton’s blank verse owes much to the study of Massinger’s.

In the indefinable touches which make up the music of a verse [says Boyle], in the artistic distribution of pauses, and in the unerring choice and grouping of just those words which strike the ear as the perfection of harmony, there are, if we leave Cyril Tourneur’s Atheist’s Tragedy out of the question, only two masters in the drama, Shakespeare in his latest period and Massinger.

This Boyle must have had a singular ear to have preferred Tourneur’s apprentice work to his Revenger’s Tragedy , and one must think that he had never glanced at Ford. But though the appraisal be ludicrous, the praise is not undeserved. Mr. Cruickshank has given us an excellent example of Massinger’s syntax—

It is impossible to deny the masterly construction of this passage; perhaps there is not one living poet who could do the like. It is impossible to deny the originality. The language is pure and correct, free from muddiness or turbidity. Massinger does not confuse metaphors, or heap them one upon another. He is lucid, though not easy. But if Massinger’s age, “without being exactly corrupt, lacks moral fibre,” Massinger’s verse, without being exactly corrupt, suffers from cerebral anæmia. To say that an involved style is necessarily a bad style would be preposterous. But such a style should follow the involutions of a mode of perceiving, registering, and digesting impressions which is also involved. It is to be feared that the feeling of Massinger is simple and overlaid with received ideas. Had Massinger had a nervous system as refined as that of Middleton, Tourneur, Webster, or Ford, his style would be a triumph. But such a nature was not at hand, and Massinger precedes, not another Shakespeare, but Milton.

Massinger is, in fact, at a further remove from Shakespeare than that other precursor of Milton—John Fletcher. Fletcher was above all an opportunist, in his verse, in his momentary effects, never quite a pastiche; in his structure ready to sacrifice everything 120 to the single scene. To Fletcher, because he was more intelligent, less will be forgiven. Fletcher had a cunning guess at feelings, and betrayed them; Massinger was unconscious and innocent. As an artisan of the theatre he is not inferior to Fletcher, and his best tragedies have an honester unity than Bonduca . But the unity is superficial. In the Roman Actor the development of parts is out of all proportion to the central theme; in the Unnatural Combat , in spite of the deft handling of suspense and the quick shift from climax to a new suspense, the first part of the play is the hatred of Malefort for his son and the second part is his passion for his daughter. It is theatrical skill, not an artistic conscience arranging emotions, that holds the two parts together. In the Duke of Milan the appearance of Sforza at the Court of his conqueror only delays the action, or rather breaks the emotional rhythm. And we have named three of Massinger’s best.

A dramatist who so skilfully welds together parts which have no reason for being together, who fabricates plays so well knit and so remote from unity, we should expect to exhibit the same synthetic cunning in character. Mr. Cruickshank, Coleridge, and Leslie Stephen are pretty well agreed that Massinger is no master of characterization. You can, in fact, put together heterogeneous parts to form a lively play; but a character, to be living, must be conceived from some emotional unity. A character is not to be composed of scattered observations of human nature, but of parts which are felt together. Hence it is that although Massinger’s failure to draw a moving character is no greater than his failure to 121 make a whole play, and probably springs from the same defective sensitiveness, yet the failure in character is more conspicuous and more disastrous. A “living” character is not necessarily “true to life.” It is a person whom we can see and hear, whether he be true or false to human nature as we know it. What the creator of character needs is not so much knowledge of motives as keen sensibility; the dramatist need not understand people; but he must be exceptionally aware of them. This awareness was not given to Massinger. He inherits the traditions of conduct, female chastity, hymeneal sanctity, the fashion of honour, without either criticizing or informing them from his own experience. In the earlier drama these conventions are merely a framework, or an alloy necessary for working the metal; the metal itself consisted of unique emotions resulting inevitably from the circumstances, resulting or inhering as inevitably as the properties of a chemical compound. Middleton’s heroine, for instance, in the Changeling , exclaims in the well-known words—

The word “honour” in such a situation is out of date, but the emotion of Beatrice at that moment, given the conditions, is as permanent and substantial as anything in human nature. The emotion of Othello in Act V. is the emotion of a man who discovers that the worst part of his own soul has been exploited by some one more clever than he; it is this emotion carried by the writer to a very high degree of 122 intensity. Even in so late and so decayed a drama as that of Ford, the framework of emotions and morals of the time is only the vehicle for statements of feeling which are unique and imperishable: Ford’s and Ford’s only.

What may be considered corrupt or decadent in the morals of Massinger is not an alteration or diminution in morals; it is simply the disappearance of all the personal and real emotions which this morality supported and into which it introduced a kind of order. As soon as the emotions disappear the morality which ordered it appears hideous. Puritanism itself became repulsive only when it appeared as the survival of a restraint after the feelings which it restrained had gone. When Massinger’s ladies resist temptation they do not appear to undergo any important emotion; they merely know what is expected of them; they manifest themselves to us as lubricious prudes. Any age has its conventions; and any age might appear absurd when its conventions get into the hands of a man like Massinger—a man, we mean, of so exceptionally superior a literary talent as Massinger’s, and so paltry an imagination. The Elizabethan morality was an important convention; important because it was not consciously of one social class alone, because it provided a framework for emotions to which all classes could respond, and it hindered no feeling. It was not hypocritical, and it did not suppress; its dark corners are haunted by the ghosts of Mary Fitton and perhaps greater. It is a subject which has not been sufficiently investigated. Fletcher and Massinger rendered it ridiculous; not by not believing in it, but because they were men of 123 great talents who could not vivify it; because they could not fit into it passionate, complete human characters.

The tragedy of Massinger is interesting chiefly according to the definition given before; the highest degree of verbal excellence compatible with the most rudimentary development of the senses. Massinger succeeds better in something which is not tragedy; in the romantic comedy. A Very Woman deserves all the praise that Swinburne, with his almost unerring gift for selection, has bestowed upon it. The probable collaboration of Fletcher had the happiest result; for certainly that admirable comic personage, the tipsy Borachia, is handled with more humour than we expect of Massinger. It is a play which would be enjoyable on the stage. The form, however, of romantic comedy is itself inferior and decadent. There is an inflexibility about the poetic drama which is by no means a matter of classical, or neoclassical, or pseudo-classical law. The poetic drama might develop forms highly different from those of Greece or England, India or Japan. Conceded the utmost freedom, the romantic drama would yet remain inferior. The poetic drama must have an emotional unity, let the emotion be whatever you like. It must have a dominant tone; and if this be strong enough, the most heterogeneous emotions may be made to reinforce it. The romantic comedy is a skilful concoction of inconsistent emotion, a revue of emotion. A Very Woman is surpassingly well plotted. The debility of romantic drama does not depend upon extravagant setting, or preposterous events, or inconceivable coincidences; all these might be found in a serious 124 tragedy or comedy. It consists in an internal incoherence of feelings, a concatenation of emotions which signifies nothing.

From this type of play, so eloquent of emotional disorder, there was no swing back of the pendulum. Changes never come by a simple reinfusion into the form which the life has just left. The romantic drama was not a new form. Massinger dealt not with emotions so much as with the social abstractions of emotions, more generalized and therefore more quickly and easily interchangeable within the confines of a single action. He was not guided by direct communications through the nerves. Romantic drama tended, accordingly, toward what is sometimes called the “typical,” but which is not the truly typical; for the typical figure in a drama is always particularized—an individual. The tendency of the romantic drama was toward a form which continued it in removing its more conspicuous vices, was toward a more severe external order. This form was the Heroic Drama. We look into Dryden’s “Essay on Heroic Plays,” and we find that “love and valour ought to be the subject of an heroic poem.” Massinger, in his destruction of the old drama, had prepared the way for Dryden. The intellect had perhaps exhausted the old conventions. It was not able to supply the impoverishment of feeling.

Such are the reflections aroused by an examination of some of Massinger’s plays in the light of Mr. Cruickshank’s statement that Massinger’s age “had much culture, but, without being exactly corrupt, lacked moral fibre.” The statement may be supported. In order to fit into our estimate of Massinger the two 125 admirable comedies— A New Way to Pay Old Debts and The City Madam —a more extensive research would be required than is possible within our limits.

Massinger’s tragedy may be summarized for the unprepared reader as being very dreary. It is dreary, unless one is prepared by a somewhat extensive knowledge of his livelier contemporaries to grasp without fatigue precisely the elements in it which are capable of giving pleasure; or unless one is incited by a curious interest in versification. In comedy, however, Massinger was one of the few masters in the language. He was a master in a comedy which is serious, even sombre; and in one aspect of it there are only two names to mention with his: those of Marlowe and Jonson. In comedy, as a matter of fact, a greater variety of methods were discovered and employed than in tragedy. The method of Kyd, as developed by Shakespeare, was the standard for English tragedy down to Otway and to Shelley. But both individual temperament, and varying epochs, made more play with comedy. The comedy of Lyly is one thing; that of Shakespeare, followed by Beaumont and Fletcher, is another; and that of Middleton is a third. And Massinger, while he has his own comedy, is nearer to Marlowe and Jonson than to any of these.

Massinger was, in fact, as a comic writer, fortunate in the moment at which he wrote. His comedy is transitional; but it happens to be one of those transitions which contain some merit not anticipated 126 by predecessors or refined upon by later writers. The comedy of Jonson is nearer to caricature; that of Middleton a more photographic delineation of low life. Massinger is nearer to Restoration comedy, and more like his contemporary, Shirley, in assuming a certain social level, certain distinctions of class, as a postulate of his comedy. This resemblance to later comedy is also the important point of difference between Massinger and earlier comedy. But Massinger’s comedy differs just as widely from the comedy of manners proper; he is closer to that in his romantic drama—in A Very Woman —than in A New Way to Pay Old Debts ; in his comedy his interest is not in the follies of love-making or the absurdities of social pretence, but in the unmasking of villainy. Just as the Old Comedy of Molière differs in principle from the New Comedy of Marivaux, so the Old Comedy of Massinger differs from the New Comedy of his contemporary Shirley. And as in France, so in England, the more farcical comedy was the more serious. Massinger’s great comic rogues, Sir Giles Overreach and Luke Frugal, are members of the large English family which includes Barabas and Sir Epicure Mammon, and from which Sir Tunbelly Clumsy claims descent.

What distinguishes Massinger from Marlowe and Jonson is in the main an inferiority. The greatest comic characters of these two dramatists are slight work in comparison with Shakespeare’s best—Falstaff has a third dimension and Epicure Mammon has only two. But this slightness is part of the nature of the art which Jonson practised, a smaller art than Shakespeare’s. The inferiority of Massinger to Jonson 127 is an inferiority, not of one type of art to another, but within Jonson’s type. It is a simple deficiency. Marlowe’s and Jonson’s comedies were a view of life; they were, as great literature is, the transformation of a personality into a personal work of art, their lifetime’s work, long or short. Massinger is not simply a smaller personality: his personality hardly exists. He did not, out of his own personality, build a world of art, as Shakespeare and Marlowe and Jonson built.

In the fine pages which Remy de Gourmont devotes to Flaubert in his Problème du Style , the great critic declares:

La vie est un dépouillement. Le but de l’activité propre de l’homme est de nettoyer sa personnalité, de la laver de toutes les souillures qu’y déposa l’éducation, de la dégager de toutes les empreintes qu’y laissèrent nos admirations adolescentes;

Flaubert incorporait toute sa sensibilité à ses œuvres.... Hors de ses livres, où il se transvasait goutte à goutte, jusqu’à la lie, Flaubert est fort peu intéressant....

Of Shakespeare notably, of Jonson less, of Marlowe (and of Keats to the term of life allowed him), one can say that they se transvasaient goutte à goutte ; and in England, which has produced a prodigious number of men of genius and comparatively few works of art, there are not many writers of whom one can say it. Certainly not of Massinger. A brilliant master of technique, he was not, in this profound sense, an artist. And so we come to inquire how, if 128 this is so, he could have written two great comedies. We shall probably be obliged to conclude that a large part of their excellence is, in some way which should be defined, fortuitous; and that therefore they are, however remarkable, not works of perfect art.

This objection raised by Leslie Stephen to Massinger’s method of revealing a villain has great cogency; but I am inclined to believe that the cogency is due to a somewhat different reason from that which Leslie Stephen assigns. His statement is too apriorist to be quite trustworthy. There is no reason why a comedy or tragedy villain should not declare himself, and in as long a period as the author likes; but the sort of villain who may run on in this way is a simple villain (simple not simpliste ). Barabas and Volpone can declare their character, because they have no inside; appearance and reality are coincident; they are forces in particular directions. Massinger’s two villains are not simple. Giles Overreach is essentially a great force directed upon small objects; a great force, a small mind; the terror of a dozen parishes instead of the conqueror of a world. The force is misapplied, attenuated, thwarted, by the man’s vulgarity: he is a great man of the City, without fear, but with the most abject awe of the aristocracy. He is accordingly not simple, but a product of a certain civilization, and he is not wholly conscious. His monologues are meant to be, not what he thinks he is, but what he really is: and yet they are not the truth about him, and he himself certainly does not know the truth. To declare himself, therefore, is impossible.

This is the wrong note. Elsewhere we have the right:

And how well tuned, well modulated, here, the diction! The man is audible and visible. But from passages like the first we may be permitted to infer that Massinger was unconscious of trying to develop a different kind of character from any that Marlowe or Jonson had invented.

Luke Frugal, in The City Madam , is not so great a character as Sir Giles Overreach. But Luke Frugal just misses being almost the greatest of all hypocrites. His humility in the first act of the play is more than half real. The error in his portraiture is not the extravagant hocus-pocus of supposed Indian necromancers by which he is so easily duped, but the premature disclosure of villainy in his temptation of the two apprentices of his brother. But for this, he would be a perfect chameleon of circumstance. Here, again, we feel that Massinger was conscious only of 130 inventing a rascal of the old simpler farce type. But the play is not a farce, in the sense in which The Jew of Malta , The Alchemist , Bartholomew Fair are farces. Massinger had not the personality to create great farce, and he was too serious to invent trivial farce. The ability to perform that slight distortion of all the elements in the world of a play or a story, so that this world is complete in itself, which was given to Marlowe and Jonson (and to Rabelais) and which is prerequisite to great farce, was denied to Massinger. On the other hand, his temperament was more closely related to theirs than to that of Shirley or the Restoration wits. His two comedies therefore occupy a place by themselves. His ways of thinking and feeling isolate him from both the Elizabethan and the later Caroline mind. He might almost have been a great realist; he is killed by conventions which were suitable for the preceding literary generation, but not for his. Had Massinger been a greater man, a man of more intellectual courage, the current of English literature immediately after him might have taken a different course. The defect is precisely a defect of personality. He is not, however, the only man of letters who, at the moment when a new view of life is wanted, has looked at life through the eyes of his predecessors, and only at manners through his own.

Thomas Stearns Eliot

Dante by t. s. eliot....

190 x 128 mm. 69, [1] pages. Editorial binding in cardboard, with its original dust jacket, both illustrated by Rex Whitler. Preserved in red chemise and slipcase. A very fine copy. On the title-page oval stamp ‘Faber and Faber Ltd. Office Copy. Not to be taken away'.

Provenance: Thomas Stearn Eliot (1888-1965) to Maurice Haigh-Wood (on the recto of the front flyleaf Eliot's autograph dedication ‘'For Maurice Haigh-Wood with the author's humble compliments. T. S. Eliot); Livio Ambrogio collection.

The original edition of the most famous essay dedicated by the American poet and writer Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965) to Dante's work, published in the editorial series "The Poets on the Poets". As printed in the flap of the dust jacket, "This essay is not an academic 'introduction'; it is a personal account of the way in which the author, over many years, arrived at his understanding and appreciation of Dante. It is written for those who would like to know Dante, and who must begin as Mr. Eliot did, with ‘a traveller's smattering of italian, and a public-school knowledge of Latin'. It traces the process by which such a reader can proceed from enjoyment of single passages towards appreciation of the whole of Dante's work". A very fine copy, gifted by Eliot to Maurice Haigh-Wood, brother of his first wife Vivienne.

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The Ways Dante Influenced T.s.eliot's Works

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The Waste Land

Dante's influences on t.s. eliot william hunnicutt.

T.S. Eliot is considered one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century and his poetry was greatly influenced by Dante Alighieri. Eliot's introduction to Dante was in his college years at Harvard, where he studied philosophy. Eliot read Dante's works extensively in college and may have meant to "apprentice" himself to learn everything he could from the master (Sloane).

Dante's influences on Eliot include appearances by way of direct quotations, similar images, and thematic elements. The direct quotations are simple to find because they are written in Italian, but there are also lines from Dante's works that have been translated and slightly adapted to fit into Eliot's poetry. Dante's images are also prevalent among Eliot's works. Eliot's view of the world as a cold and desolate place was greatly influenced by Dante and his visions of Hell. Similar themes are also apparent; Eliot often uses themes such as isolation from Dante's works to express his own inner feelings. At least one of these three elements can be seen in most of Eliot's works, so it is obvious that Dante influenced Eliot.

The influences from Dante in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" include...

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Book Source: Digital Library of India Item 2015.220297 T S Eliot 2015-07-09T21:39:06Z 2015-07-09T21:39:06Z 2005-02-03 dc.identifier.barcode: 2990100061043 dc.identifier.origpath: /data_copy/upload/0061/048 dc.identifier.copyno: 1 dc.identifier.uri: dc.description.scanningcentre: S.V. Digital Library, Tirupati dc.description.main: 1 dc.description.tagged: 0 dc.description.totalpages: 468 dc.format.mimetype: application/pdf dc.language.iso: English dc.publisher.digitalrepublisher: Digital Library Of India dc.publisher: Faber And Faber Limited, 24 Russell Square dc.source.library: Cpbl, Cuddapah dc.subject.classification: Language. Linguistics. Literature dc.subject.keywords: Selected Essays dc.subject.keywords: T S Eliot dc.subject.keywords: Faber And Faber Limited dc.title: Selected Essays

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Module B Essay – T.S Eliot


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The quest for understanding and enlightenment is futile within the constraints of empty societal constructs. T.S Eliot’s oeuvre of poems depicts the tension between the vacuity of modern European society and the universal journey for self-discovery, fabricating a canonical piece that is inherently laced with textual integrity. Eliot exposes the detriments of modernism on the psyche in ‘ The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock ’ (1910), ‘ The Hollow Men ’ (1925) and ‘ The Journey of the Magi ’ (1927), as his synthesis of form, content and rhetoric subtly reflects his own search for identity. Written during an era of disintegrating forces that fragment the conventions of romanticism, Eliot captures the despair of early modernist society in his critical portrayal of societal constructs. Sustained throughout Eliot’s corpus is the struggle to escape the pervasiveness of monotony with the culmination of Eliot’s quest in ‘Magi’ exposing the ultimate truth that religion cannot sufficiently fulfill the vacuum of meaning society has torn. Hence, Eliot forges a timeless body of literature in his representation of society as an everlasting obstacle in the pursuit of personal meaning.

Societal constructs impose a blanket of triviality that suffocates the potential for enlightenment. The dramatic monologue ‘The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock,’ upholds textual integrity through its lasting depiction of the impact of shifting social contexts on the psyche. Modernism saw a rejection of religious guidance, with the collapse of spiritual affirmation increasing individuals’ desire for social validation. The conflict between tradition and change, as romanticism moved to modernism, is epitomized in the intertextual epigraph, as Eliot draws on the classic Dante’s Inferno (1476) to employ an objective correlative between the narcissism of Guido and the titular Prufrock. The extended allusion to the epigraph echoed in Prufrock’s obsession with his image confirms that the motif of an ‘overwhelming question’ is centered upon embracing introspection. The parenthetical insertion ‘(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)’, structurally interrupts the stanza, symbolising the disruptive nature of self-consciousness in achieving self-discovery. The stultifying effect of a spiritual vacuum is captured in the conduplicatio; “Prepare a face to meet the faces” with the repetition expressing the monotonous cycle of urban life. Prufrock ultimately avoids the ‘overwhelming question,’ instead escaping his journey to self-discovery by preoccupying himself with trivial facades noted in the rhetorical question; “Shall I part my hair behind?’ The poem’s canonical status is invoked through Eliot’s exploration of the universal tension between the imperative yet confronting nature of introspection, exposing the complex quest for meaning in the modern world.

The powerful omnipresence of societal constructs limit self-actuated enlightenment. Eliot’s revolutionary piece ‘The Hollow Men’, employs a free-verse form to reflectively encapsulate his profound realisation that modern society is a formation of purposeless facades. Written months after a psychotic breakdown, the paradoxical anaphora; “We are the hollow men. We are the stuffed men,” symbolically portrays Eliot’s acknowledgement of the modern man’s inability to connect with new constructs that ‘stuff’ us with false meaning. While Eliot embodies pessimistic naturalism, theorist David Buckley argues that the subtly threaded biblical allusions, noted in “fading star”, displays Eliot and the hollowmen’s quest for unified meaning. The dichotomies that plague Eliot’s context, with the challenge of Romanticism and Modernism, Religion and Naturalism, solipsism and omniscience, coalesce a paradoxical narrative in ‘The Hollowmen’ as Eliot ridicules societal constructs only to entertain the notion of religion. The ellipsis in; ‘For Thine is; Life is; For Thine is the…” insinuates a tone of contemplation, as the direct repetition connecting ‘Life’ to the religious ‘Thine’ combines literary elements to imply the promising prospect of faith in achieving a cathartic awakening. The dialectic layers evoke a sense of confusion that mirrors Eliot’s personal identity crisis, maintaining textual integrity while expressing the premise that humans are inescapably surrounded by cycles of tedium. Thus, ‘The Hollow Men’ canonically portrays the premise that the modern man will no longer search within but search throughout societal constructs for meaning.

While religion is classically displayed as the key to self-discovery, societal constructs prevail as an obstacle in the path of spiritual fulfillment. ‘Journey of the Magi’ captures Eliot’s spiritual awakening as he grapples with his religious conversion. The restrictive facades of society exemplified in ‘Prufrock’ and ‘The Hollowmen’ are reflected in the declarative; ‘We regretted the summer palaces on slopes.’ The Romantic tone created by the sibilance is contrasted by the connotations of ‘regret’, where Eliot concludes to separate himself from societal constructs such as these ‘palaces’ to reach true meaning. However, Eliot’s portrayal of Jesus’s epiphanic birth is satirized through the use of low modality and flippant tone; ‘it was (you might say) satisfactory,’ revealing the judgement that religion offers little consolation. In fact, at the culmination of the poem, the Magi must return to society, ‘but [are] no longer at ease ,’ representative of Eliot’s despondency with the modern world’s obsession with logicality and technology at the expense of higher cultural and spiritual meaning. The truncated final line; ‘I should be glad of another death,’ exerts a sense of hopelessness espousing Eliot’s ultimate loss of confidence in the quest for self-discovery

Within the modern world self-discovery is futile. Eliot’s collection of poems expose the tediums and detriments of the new world that has shifted from the comforts of romanticism. The desire for identity and spiritual awakening is hindered by the masks individuals and society create to evoke a sense of false meaning. ‘The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock’ and ‘The Hollow-men’ display the impacts of society on individual enlightenment whilst ‘The Journey of the Magi’ cynically rejects religion as a final answer. Eliot’s dark analysis of self-discovery amplified by his personal ennui, insinuates the emptiness of humanity’s societal and religious constructs, maintaining a canonical status and textual integrity.

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International T. S. Eliot Society

International T. S. Eliot Society


T. S. Eliot Bibliography 2022

compiled by Ariadne Lewis , who is a Ph.D. student and research assistant at Baylor University. Her research interests center around narratology and the intersection of silence and religion in nineteenth-century British literature.

Budziak, Anna. T.S. Eliot’s Ariel Poems : Making Sense of the Times . New York: Routledge, 2022.

Crawford, Robert. Eliot After The Waste Land. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022.

Eiss, Harry Edwin. A Detailed Explication of T. S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock . Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2022.

Eliot, T. S., and Michael North. The Waste Land and Other Poems: Authoritative Texts, Contexts, Criticism . Second ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2022.

Eliot, T. S., and Valerie Eliot. The Waste Land: A Facsimile & Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound . Centenary edition. New York: Liveright, 2022.

Gordon, Lyndall. The Hyacinth Girl: T. S. Eliot’s Hidden Muse . New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2022.

Hollis, Matthew. The Waste Land : A Biography of a Poem . London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2022.

Jagger, Jasmine. Rhythms of Feeling in Edward Lear, T. S. Eliot, and Stevie Smith . Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2022.

Matthews, Steven. The Waste Land After One Hundred Years. Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 2022. 

Rasula, Jed. What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2022.

Sicari, Stephen. Modernist Reformations: Poetry as Theology in Eliot, Stevens, and Joyce . Clemson, SC: Clemson University Press, 2022.

Book Chapters

Bedsole, Anna. “Uncertainty, Doubt, and Belief in the Poetic Landscapes of T. S. Eliot and Thomas Hardy.” Re-Reading the Age of Innovation: Victorians, Moderns, and Literary Newness, 1830-1950 . Edited by Louise Kane. New York: Routledge, 2022.

Eagleton, Terry. “T. S. Eliot.” Critical Revolutionaries: Five Critics Who Changed the Way We Read . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2022. 12-79. 

Goldberg, Jonathan. “Impersonal Eliot.” Being of Two Minds: Modernist Literary Criticism and Early Modern Texts . New York: Fordham University Press, 2022. 25-66.

Hadjiyiannis, Christos. “Liberalism.” The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century Literature and Politics . Edited by Christos Hadjiyiannis and Rachel Potter. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2022. 19–35. [considers TSE’s relationship to Edwardian liberalism]

Moran, James. “T. S. Eliot: Theatre and Popularity.” Modernists and the Theatre: The Drama of W. B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf . London: Methuen Drama, 2022. 121–42.

Nickerson, A. J. “Visible Swans: Walter De La Mare and T. S. Eliot.” Walter de la Mare: Critical Appraisals . Edited by Yui Kajita, Angela Leighton, and A. J. Nickerson. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2022. 109–126.

Prudente, Teresa. “The Secretest Chamber of the Heart: The Vita Nova in British and American Modernism.” The Afterlife of Dante’s Vita Nova in the Anglophone World: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Translation and Reception History . Edited by Federica Coluzzi and Jacob Blakesley. New York: Routledge, 2022. 139–54. 

Sherry, Vincent. “Transitions, Turns.” British Literature in Transition, 1900–1920: A New Age? Edited by James Purdon. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2022. 229–43.

Journal Publications

Ajtony, Zsuzsanna. “Translating Poetry – an Impossible Task?: T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats in Hungarian.” Acta Universitatis Sapientiae Philologica 14, no. 3 (2022): 1–12. 

Alexander, Michael. “ The Waste Land and the Road to Emmaus.” Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 85 (2022): 87–95.

Ali, Ayad Hammad. “Metaphoric Usage of Human Body Parts in T. S. Eliot’s Selected Poems.” Journal of Tikrit University for Humanities 29, no. 1 (2022): 35–56.

Al-sowail, Tafla Omar, Wiam Obaid Ghasan, and Rasha Saeed Badurais. “Intertextuality between T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ and Mahmoud Darwish’s ‘The Land’s Poem.’” European Journal of English Language and Literature Studies 10, no. 1 (2022): 31–41.

Altieri, Charles. “The Concept of Experience as Grounding for The Waste Land .” Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 85 (2022): 35–50.

Arafat, Yasir, Muhammad Qasim, and Tahir Alam Awan. “The Land and the Waste: Meaninglessness and Absurdity in T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land .” Sir Syed Journal of Education & Social Research 5, no. 4 (2022): 141-146.

Bacigalupo, Massimo. “ The Waste Land at 100: Comedy in Hell.” Journal of Early Modern Studies 11 (2022): 253–57.

Barman, Sanjib Kumar. “Delineation of Love and the Overwhelming Questions of J. Alfred Prufrock in T S Eliot’s Poem ‘Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.’” Smart Moves Journal Ijellh 10, no. 7 (2022): 1–7.

Bouacida, Soumaya, and Ikram Lecheheb. “The Apocalyptic Vision in Modernist and Romantic Poetry: A Comparative Study between T. S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men and Lord Byron’s Darkness .” Akofena 2, no. 6 (2022): 329-338.

Brlek, Tomislav. “The Nietzschean Premise of Eliot’s Historical Sense.” Arcadia: Internationale Zeitschrift Für Literaturwissenschaft 57, no. 1 (2022): 112–20.

Brooker, Jewel Spears. “Eliot Reading Eliot: Pipit, the Hyacinth Girl, and the Silent Lady.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022) 25–41.

Brooker, Jewel Spears. “Inside/Outside: Eliot, Perspective, and the Modernist Moment.” Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 85 (2022): 21–33.

Bush, Christopher. “Eliot and the Contemporary.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 73–90.

Çakar, Emre. “Re-Visiting T. S. Eliot’s Poetry through Henri Lefebvre’s Rhythmanalysis.” Celal Bayar Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi 20, no. 1 (2022): 298–309.

Carbajosa Palmero, Natalia. “The Family Reunion as a Turning Point in T. S. Eliot’s Verse Drama: Analysis and Suggestions for Translation.” Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses/Alicante Journal of English Studies 36 (2022): 7–27.

Carbajosa, Natalia. “ The Waste Land in Spanish a Hundred Years Later: The Case of Claudio Rodríguez.” Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 85 (2022): 211–26.

Carver, Beci. “Death by Capitalism in Eliot’s The Waste Land .” Textual Practice 36, no. 5 (May 2022): 831–49.

Chenal, Lise. “T. S. Eliot in Translations: Exploring T. S. Eliot’s Afterlives.” Transatlantica 2 (Dec. 2022).

Clemens, Ruth Alison. “Between Anxiety and Utopia: Eliot and Europe.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 253–263.

Clemens, Ruth Alison. “Bombast and Sesquipedalian Words: Translation, Mistranslation, and the Epigraph to The Waste Land .” Modernist Cultures 17, no. 1 (Feb. 2022): 109–26.

Clemens, Ruth Alison. “Eliot and Europe [Special Section].” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4, (2022): 253–308.

Colebrook, Claire. “The Poetics of Waste: Inoperative Bodies in The Waste Land .” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 91–103.

Collado-Rodríguez, Francisco. “ The Waste Land and the Release of Social Energy: An Eliotean Reading of Thomas Pynchon’s Fiction.” Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 85 (2022): 167–82.

Crace, Benjamin D. “The Critical Significance of T. S. Eliot’s Mystical-Erotic Integration.” Christianity & Literature 71, no. 3 (Sept. 2022): 322–43. 

Cuda, Anthony. “Back, Late, from the Hyacinth Garden.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 57–71.

Das, Joyoti. “Meaning of ‘short square fingers’ in T. S. Eliot’s Preludes.” International Journal of English Literature and Social Sciences 7, no. 3 (2022): 290–291. 

Derdeyn, Leeann. “Out of This Nettle: T. S. Eliot’s ‘Little Gidding III’ and the Environment of What Grows.” Modernism/Modernity 29, no. 3 (Sept. 2022): 495–518. 

Deyab, Mohammad Shaaban. “‘What Dante Means to Me:’ Dante Alighieri’s Influence on T. S. Eliot and Other English Writers.” Transcultural Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 3, no. 1 (2022): 20-34.

Dhayef, Qassim Abbas, and Wafaa Abid-Ali Mahdi. “A Stylistic Study of the T. S. Eliot’s Poem of ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.’” International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation 5, no. 2 (2022): 153–158.

Dickey, Frances. “Preface to Volume 4,” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 1–5.

Dubey, Suryashi. “Manifesting Lights and Shadows: Indian and Japanese Aesthetics in the Poetry of W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot.” The Yeats Journal of Korea 69 (2022): 17–41.

Ducroux, Amélie. “T. S. Eliot’s ‘Significance.’” Études Anglaises 75 (2022): 262–262. 

Elass, Hicham. “A Gadamerian-Hermeneutic Reflection on T. S. Eliot and W. B. Yeats’s Poetics.” Interdisciplinary Literary Studies: A Journal of Criticism and Theory 24, no. 3 (2022): 369–408. 

Elsherif, Amr. “The Dialectics of Experience: Eliot’s and Adorno’s Constructions of Modernism as Responses to the Crisis of Modernity.” University of Toronto Quarterly 91, no. 4 (Nov. 2022): 28–49.

Elsherif, Amr Amin. “The Dialectics of Modernity and Tradition: Eliot and Adorno on Individualism and the Differentiation of Spheres.” Journal of Faculty of Arts 20 (2022): 1–35.

Evans, Suzannah V. “‘Philosophical Obscenity Rather like Laforgue’: Eliot’s Poems (1920).” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 265–77.

Ferreccio, Giuliana. “Modernist Drama and Referentiality: T. S. Eliot’s Sweeney Agonistes and Walter Benjamin’s Trauerspiel .” Literature of the Americas 13 (2022): 109–133.

Fitzgerald, Sara. “The Love of Her Life: Emily Hale’s Theatrical Career.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 161–96.

Fitzgerald, Sara. “”Because You Are You”: Emily Hale’s Letters.” The Journal of the T. S. Eliot Society (UK) (2022).

Forman, John Rhett. “Reading T. S. Eliot in Our Ideological Age: Allusions to Christian Liturgy in The Waste Land .” Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 85 (2022): 97–109.

Franke, William. “Modernist Re-Makings of Prophetic Poetry by Pound and Eliot.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 105–19.

Gibert, Teresa. “ The Waste Land in Spanish Translation (1930-2022).” Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 85 (2022): 227–40. 

Gordon, Parker T. “ The Rock ’s Roots in British Historical Pageants and English Religious Drama: A Pageant Play Text and Performance.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 197–213.

Guru, Bhavatosh Indra. “The Doctrine of Maya and the Nativity of Significant Experience in the Poetry of W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot, and W. H. Auden.” The Yeats Journal of Korea 68 (2022): 43–88.

Guru, Bhavatosh Indra. “The Poetics of Anumana and the Poetry of W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot.” The Yeats Journal of Korea 67 (2022): 17–47.

Hamoodi, Hashim Hameed. “Cultural Intertextually in Badr Shakir Al Sayab’s Translations of T. S. Eliot’s Poetry.” International Journal on Humanities and Social Science s 35 (July 2022): 167–178.

Hammoudi, Hashem Hamid. “Myth and Mythical Forms in the Poetry of Al-Sayyab and T. S. Eliot: Influence and Literary Archetypes: A Jungian Archetypal Criticism.” Journal of Basrah Researches for Human Science 47, no. 3 (2022): 1–14.

Hasan, Mariwan. “T. S. Eliot’s Modern Style As Reflected in Sherko Bekas’s Poem ‘a Fall Letter’: A Comparative Study.” Comparative Literature: East & West 6, no. 2 (2022): 139–153. 

Hasan, Mariwan, Shnyar Qasm, and Lava Zrar. “Symbolism and Imagism in T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’: An Analytical Approach.” Metathesis: Journal of English Language Literature and Teaching 6, no. 1 (Apr. 2022): 28–49. 

Hollington, Michael. “Dickens and The Waste Land .” Dickens Quarterly 39, no. 4 (Dec. 2022): 513–23.

Igrutinović, Danica. “If There Were Only Water: Water Symbolism in The Waste Land .” Književna Istorija 54, no. 176 (2022): 225–46. 

Jakubowicz, Karina. “From Waste Lands to Farmhands: T. S. Eliot and the Organic Husbandry Movement.” Journal of Modern Literature 45, no. 3 (2022): 184–88.

Jenkins, RB. “ The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock : An Exegesis.” The Journal of the T. S. Eliot Society (UK) (2022).

Jiang, Zhuyu. “Sense and Sensibility: Giving Notes in Chinese and English Literary Writings.” Comparative Literature: East & West 6, no. 1 (2022): 25–44. [Substantial consideration of the notes in The Waste Land ]

Joudry, K. “The Gospel According to Bolo.” Journal of Modern Literature 45, no. 2 (2022): 15–33.

Kaczyński, Daniel. “‘Us He Devours’: Christianity and Its Use of Human Fear in T. S. Eliot’s ‘Gerontion.’” The Explicator 80, no. 1–2 (Jan. 2022): 10–13.

Karo, Hasan Hussein. “Dramatic Monologue in T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.’” Humanities Journal of University of Zakho 10, no. 1 (Mar. 2022): 245-7.

Keers, Paul. “‘The Aspern Papers in Reverse’: A Note on the Emily Hale Letters.” Essays in Criticism: A Quarterly Journal of Literary Criticism 72, no. 3 (July 2022): 383–91. 

Kumar, Dinesh. “A Critical Appraisal of T. S. Eliot’s Tradition and Individual Talent.” Shodh Sankalp Journal 1, no. 4 (2022): 58–61.

Kumar, Rabichandan. “ The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot As a Modern Epic.” International Journal of English Literature and Social Sciences 7, no. 5 (2022): 225–227. 

Kurasova, Anna. “‘Burning Burning Burning Burning’: The Fire of The Waste Land in Anna Akhmatova’s Poem without a Hero .” Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 85 (2022): 185–97.

Lee, Cheolhee. “Studying Yeats’s and Eliot’s Personae.” The Yeats Journal of Korea 67 (2022): 117–131.

Lin, Chen. “The ‘Wholeness’ of T. S. Eliot: A Review of T. S. Eliot’s Dialectical Imagination.” Journal of Modern Literature 45, no. 2 (2022): 192–97.

Liu, Huiming. “T. S. Eliot in the 1918 Pandemic: Abjection and Immunity.” Literature 2, no. 2 (2022): 90–105.

Llorens-Cubedo, Dídac. “ The Cocktail Party and It’s a Wonderful Life : Crisis, Guardianship, and Rebirth.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 229–52.

Llorens-Cubedo, Dídac. “ The Waste Land : Potential Drama, Persistent Poetry.” Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 85 (2022): 67–83.

Mantellato, Mattia. “A Prayer for Life: Water, Art and Spirituality in T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. ” Le Simplegadi 20, no. 22 (Nov.  2022): 122–140.

Martínez Serrano, Leonor María. “Reading the More-Than-Human World in T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land .” Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 85 (2022): 133–51.

Mebuke, Tamar. “T. S. Eliot’s Way Out of ‘The Waste Land.’” Linguistics and Literature Studies 10, no. 4 (2022): 66–71. 

Mitchell, Philip Irving. “A Quest for Coherence: T. S. Eliot as Public Intellectual.” Christianity & Literature 71, no. 3 (Sept. 2022): 425–43. 

Murray, Rachel. “Things That Cling: Marine Attachments in Eliot.” Journal of Modern Literature 45, no. 3 (2022): 21–38.

Myers, William. “Different Voices: Evelyn Waugh and The Waste Land .” The Journal of the T. S. Eliot Society (UK) (2022).

Oroskhan, Muhammad Hussein, and Hossein Jahantigh. “T. S. Eliot and Emile Durkheim: Sacred and Profane in ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.’” Folia Linguistica Et Litteraria 39 (2022): 31–46. 

Özden, İpli̇kçi̇ Ayşenur. “Transferring Modernist Elements in Poetry Translation: T. S. Eliot and ‘Portrait of a Lady’ – a Case Study.” Modernism and Postmodernism Studies Network 3, no. 2 (2022): 263-276.

Patea, Viorica. “‘With Inviolable Voice’: Eliot’s Redeeming Word in The Waste Land .” Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 85 (2022): 111–30.

Patea, Viorica, and Dídac Llorens-Cubedo. “ The Waste Land : A Hundred Years Later [Special Issue].” Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 85 (2022): 11–278.

Perry, Seamus. “What Did They Expect?” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 121–29.

Petersen, Nils Holger. “T. S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral: Divine Vs. Human?” Religions 13, no. 11 (Nov. 2022): 1068. 

Pizza, Joseph. “‘All Aboard for Natchez, Cairo, and St. Louis’: Minstrelsy and Conversion in T. S. Eliot’s Ash-Wednesday .” Journal of Modern Literature 45, no. 4 (2022): 41–57.

Ramazani, Jahan. “Burying the Dead: The Waste Land, Ecocritique, and World Elegy.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 7–23.

Reinhard, Ben. “‘One Aims at the Officers First’: Reassessing the Relationship of C. S. Lewis and T. S. Eliot.” Mythlore: A Journal of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature 40, no. 2 (2022): 5–27.

Richards, Joshua. “T. S. Eliot Bibliography 2020.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 309–15.

Rion, Rosanna. “T. S. Eliot’s Translation of Religious Mysticism to Literature: Richard of Saint Victor and Saint John of the Cross.” International Journal of Arts Humanities & Social Science 3, no. 12 (2022): 25–31.

Rodríguez Guerrero-Strachan, Santiago. “Romantic Eliot: The Reception of T. S. Eliot in Spain in the Second Half of the Twentieth Century.” Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 85 (2022): 199–210.

Rodríguez Martín, Gustavo A. “T. S. Eliot’s Critique of Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan: Modernism and Bibliographical Errors.” Notes and Queries 69, no. 2 (June 2022):162–65. 

Salman, Adhwaa M. “T. S. Eliot’s Mythical Method in the Masterpiece of ‘The Waste Land.’” Journal of the Iraqi University 53, no. 2 (2022): 614–619.

Sampson, Fiona. “ The Waste Land : Meaning and Multiplicity.” Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 85 (2022): 153–65. 

Saussy, Haun. “How The Waste Land Was Tamed.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 131–44.

Smith, Alicia. “‘Each Way Means Loneliness—and Communion’: Reading Anchoritic Literature with T. S. Eliot.” Postmedieval: A Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies 13, no. 1–2 (2022): 29–53.

Stayer, Jayme. “Snuggling Up to the Abyss.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 145–59.

Steinke, Annarose. “A ‘Peculiarly American’ Sense in T. S. Eliot’s ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent.’” ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles Notes and Reviews (2022): 1–7.

Taiana, Cecilia. “What Does Poetry Offer Psychoanalysis? T. S. Eliot’s Concept of Tradition.” Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis 30, no. 2 (2022): 191–214.

Taylor-Batty, Juliette. “Eliot’s Anxious Multilingualism.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 293–308.

Virkar, Aakanksha J. “‘Heart of Light’: Emily Hale and The Birth of Tragedy in The Waste Land .” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 43–55.

Whittier-Ferguson, John. “‘I Would Meet You upon This Honestly’: The Repudiation of Mary in The Family Reunion .” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 215–28.

Vanheste, Jeroen. “The Waste Land 100 Years On: The Significance of T. S. Eliot Today.” Secular Studies 4, no. 2 (2022): 140–155.

Varry, Cécile. “Looking for Relief in Eliot’s French Poems.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual 4 (2022): 279–91.

Theses and Dissertations

Carte, Donald T. “Diverging in the Woods: The Journeys of Robert Frost and T. S. Eliot to WWI England and the Impact on Fashioning Two Distinct Poetic Identities.” MA. Harvard University, 2022. ProQuest.

Evans, Suzannah Victoria. “T. S. Eliot and the Implications of Laforgue and Corbière.” PhD. Durham University, 2022. ProQuest .

Hakim, Shohala. “Modernism and Moral Philosophy: Ethical Paradigms in the Late Interwar Literature of Virginia Woolf and T. S. Eliot.” MA. University of Exeter, 2022. ProQuest .

Plym, Heather A. “Consciously Choosing a Meaningful Life in T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,’ Murder in the Cathedral , and The Cocktail Party .” M Res. Regent University, 2022. ProQuest .

Wallace, Nadira. “Bridging the Waste Lane: Hart Crane and T. S. Eliot.” PhD. Royal Holloway University of London, 2022. ProQuest .

Lawrence, Erik John. “‘Words Move, Music Moves’: An Examination of Musical Settings of the Poetry of T. S. Eliot.” DMA. University of California, 2022. ProQuest .

Adams, Tim. Review of The Waste Land: A Biography of a Poem , by Matthew Hollis. The Guardian , Oct. 9, 2022.

Banerjee, A. Review of The Letters of T. S. Eliot Volume 9: 1939-1941 , edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden. English Studies 103, no. 6 (2022): 1009–1011.

Clark, Alex. Review of The Waste Land: A Biography of a Poem , by Matthew Hollis. The Guardian , Dec. 14, 2022.

Davies, Hilary. “Whispers of Immortality.” Review of The Gloucester Notebook , by T. S. Eliot (edited by Robert Hyde); The Waste Land: A Biography of a Poem , by Matthew Hollis, and Eliot After The Waste Land, by Robert Crawford. Literary Review , Oct. 2022.

Dirda, Michael. “T. S. Eliot may have been flawed, but a new book reminds of his greatness on the page.” Review of The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot , edited by Ronald Schuchard. The Washington Post , Jan. 5, 2022.

Dirda, Michael. “T. S. Eliot wrote of waste and woe. His private life provided material.” Review of Eliot After The Waste Land, by Robert Crawford. The Washington Post , Sept. 28, 2022.

Donoghue, Steve. Review of Eliot After The Waste Land, by Robert Crawford. Open Letters Review , Sept. 4, 2022.

Epstein, Andrew. “How Did T. S. Eliot Go From Young and Wild to Old and Stodgy?” Review of Eliot After The Waste Land, by Robert Crawford. The New York Times , Sept. 2, 2022.

Ford, Mark. “​​An Age of Prudence.” Review of The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound , by T. S. Eliot, edited by Valerie Eliot; Eliot After The Waste Land, by Robert Crawford; and The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot: The Critical Edition , edited by Ronald Schuchard. The New York Review , Oct. 20, 2022.

Freer, Scott. Review of T S Eliot and The Mother , by Matthew Geary. The Journal of the T. S. Eliot Society (UK) (2022).

Harding, Jason. Review of The Letters of T. S. Eliot Volume 9: 1939–1941 , edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden. The Review of English Studies 73, no. 311 (2022): 803–805.

Harding, Jason. “Why should we care about T S Eliot’s The Waste Land?” Review of Eliot After The Waste Land, by Robert Crawford and The Waste Land: A Biography of a Poem , by Matthew Hollis. Financial Times , Oct. 18 2022.

Hipolito, Jeffrey. Review of T. S. Eliot’s Dialectical Imagination , by Jewel Spears Brooker. Journal of Inklings Studies 12, no. 1 (2022): 118–122.

Hodgson, John. Literary Criticism, Culture and the Subject of ‘English’: F. R. Leavis and T. S. Eliot , by Dandan Zhang. English in Education 56, no. 2 (2022): 201–203.

Keers, Paul. Review of Becoming T. S. Eliot , by Jayme Stayer. The Journal of the T. S. Eliot Society (UK) (2022).

Mitchell, Philip Irving. Review of T. S. Eliot and Organicism , by Jeremy Diaper. Christianity & Literature 71, no. 3 (2022): 461-464. 

O’Connor, Charles A. Review of Christian Modernism in an Age of Totalitarianism: T. S. Eliot, Karl Mannheim and the Moot , by Kurlberg Jonas. Religion and the Arts 26, no. 1-2 (2022): 219–224. 

Pritchard, William H. “More Letters from T. S. E.” Review of The Letters of T. S. Eliot Volume 9: 1939-1941 , edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden. Hudson Review (2022): 153–153.

Rhee, Young Suck. Review of Where the Dreams Cross: T. S. Eliot and French Poetry , by  Chinmoy Guha. The Yeats Journal of Korea 69 (2022): 215–227.

Roiphe, Katie. “The Woman T.S. Eliot Loved at Arm’s Length and Enshrined in Verse.” Review of The Hyacinth Girl: T. S. Eliot’s Hidden Muse , by Lyndall Gordon. The New York Times , Nov. 7, 2022.

Tayler, Christopher. “An Hallucinated Man.” Review of Young Eliot: From St. Louis to The Waste Land and Eliot After The Waste Land, by Robert Crawford. Harper’s Magazine , Sept. 2022.

Thaventhiran, Helen. “Things Ill-Done and Undone.” Review of Eliot After The Waste Land, by Robert Crawford. London Review of Books 44, no. 17, Sept. 2022.

Thurston, Michael. “Still Mixing Memory and Desire.” Review of Eliot After The Waste Land, by Robert Crawford. The Hudson Review 75, no. 3, (Autumn 2022).

Wagner, Erica. “How T S Eliot found happiness.” Review of Eliot After The Waste Land, by Robert Crawford. The New Statesman , June 29, 2022.

Ward, Jean. “An Unrecognised Face of Literary Modernism.” Review of Modernism and Theology: Rainer Maria Rilke, T. S. Eliot, Czesław Miłosz , by Joanna Rzepa. Konteksty Kultury 19, no. 3 (2022): 452–465.

Whittier-Ferguson, John. Review of Modernist Reformations: Poetry as Theology in Eliot, Stevens, and Joyce , by Stephen Sicari. James Joyce Quarterly 60, no. 4 (2023): 629-31.

Selection of Works in Languages Other Than English, Including New Translations

Alkan, Eren. “Tiyatro Sosyolojisi Yoluyla Yüzyıllar Arası Köprüler Kurmak: T. S. Eliot’ın Katedralde Cinayet Oyununda Kamusal Şiddetin Shakespeare Tiyatrosu Üzerinden Tahlili.” Sosyoloji Dergisi 44 (2022): 359–88.

Bacigalupo, Massimo. “‘What Dante Means to Me’: Dante ed Eliot fra i modernisti americani.” Comparative Studies in Modernism 20 (2022): 113-121.

Candeloro, Antonio. “ Four Quartets de T. S. Eliot Como Señal de Anagnórisis En Berta Isla .” Javier Marías: 50 Años de Literatura (1971-2021): Nuevas Visiones . Edited by Santiago Bertrán and Alexis Grohmann. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2022. 264–75.

Del Pozo, Consuelo de la Torre. “La Política Crítica Del Agonismo Estético. Una Lección a Partir De T. S. Eliot.” Revista Stultifera de Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales 5, no. 1 (2022): 157–186. 

Dobry, Edgardo. “Un Fantasma Recorre América: El Fantasma De La Sincronía.” Cuadernos LIRICO 24 (2022).

Eliot, T. S., and Andreu Jaume. La Tierra Baldía: Prufrock Y Otras Observanciones . Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial, 2022.

Eliot, T. S., and Bravo Varela Hernán. La Tierra Baldía . Fondo De Cultura Economica: Universidad Del Claustro De Sor Juana, 2022.

Eliot, T. S., and Andreu Jaume. Cuatro Cuartetos; La Roca; Y Asesinato En La Catedral. Segunda edición ed. Lumen, 2022.

Eliot, T. S., and Giorgio Ghiberti. Da Eliot: I «Quattro Quartetti» E Altre Poesie: «Four Quartets» «Preludes» «Observations» E Tre Poesie Del Periodo Della Grande Guerra: Nuove Traduzioni Con Testi Originali a Fronte Saggi Note E Commenti. Longo, 2022.

Filho, Carlos Ribeiro Caldas. “Teopoética De T. S. Eliot Considerações Sobre the Journey of the Magi.” Teoliteraria – Revista De Literaturas E Teologias 12, no. 26 (2022) 12–30. 

Gallitelli, Eleonora. “Elio Vittorini E Il ‘Caso Eliot’ Sulle Riviste «Politecnico» E «Sud».” Prassi Ecdotiche della Modernità Letteraria 7 (2022): 79-104.

Giudice, Silvia. “Baudelaire Poéticien Du Classicisme Moderne. Le Réseau Critique De Valéry Eliot Et Montale.” Revue De Littérature Comparée 2, no. 382 (2022): 145–145. 

Hartmans, Rob. T. S. Eliot. De Vele Gezichten Van Een Conservatieve Modernist . Amsterdam: Spectrum Uitgeverij, 2022.

Ibragimova, Karina R. “The Voice of the March Hare. A Review.” Review of Becoming T. S. Eliot: The Rhetoric of Voice and Audience in “Inventions of the March Hare , ” by Jayme Stayer. Literature of the Americas 13 (2022): 400–408.

Kobakhidze, Temur. “Myth and Melos in Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot.” Literature of the Americas 13 (2022): 177–206.

Li, Luxi, and Yanwen Wang. “T. S. Eliot’s Early Secular Life and Literary Imagination World—Based on Author-Generative Theory.” World Literature Studies 10, no. 1 (2022): 63–70.

Martínez Serrano, Leonor María. “Reseña De La Tierra Baldía De T. S. Eliot Ed. Viorica Patea Trad. Natalia Carbajosa.” Epos: Revista De Filología 38 (2022): 276–282.

Polovinkina, Olga I. “The ‘Montage of Attractions’ in T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land .” Literature of the Americas 13 (2022): 207–223.

Monateri, Valentina. “Prufrock E Il Qoèlet.” Comparative Studies in Modernism 21 (2022): 1-17.

Reggiani, Enrico. “The philosophy is essential to the structure”: T. S. Eliot lettore di Dante. Grandi maestri di fronte a Dante . Edited by Simona Brambilla, Nicolangelo D’Acunto, Massimo Marassi, and Paola Müller. Milan: Vita e Pensiero, 2022. 315- 324.

Sato, Toru, Juno Hirano, and Shinji Matsumoto April is the cruelest month: A collection of essays commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of T S Eliot’s “The Waste Land.” Suiseisha, 2022.

Tolmatchoff, Vassily M. “To the Symbolism of T. S. Eliot’s Anthological Poem.” Literature of the Americas 13 (2022): 61–108. 

Ushakova, Olga M. “Rituals of Spring in Hope Mirlees’s Paris and T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land .” Literature of the Americas 13 (2022): 9–60.

Villarreal, William Díaz. La Imagen Crítica En Paul Valéry Y T. S. Eliot . Bogotá, Columbia: Universidad Nacional De Colombia Sede Bogotá Facultad De Ciencias Humanas Departamento De Literatura, 2022.

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By John Whittier-Ferguson

John Whittier-Ferguson is Professor of English at the University of Michigan and is the current president of the International T. S. Eliot Society


  1. The Ways Dante Influenced T.S.Eliot's Works: [Essay Example], 1602

    ts eliot essay on dante

  2. Literature, Science, and Dogma: T. S. Eliot and I. A. Richards on Dante

    ts eliot essay on dante

  3. T. S. Eliot Quote: “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them

    ts eliot essay on dante

  4. T. S. Eliot Quote: “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them

    ts eliot essay on dante

  5. Dante TS Eliot 1921 The Sacred Wood; Essays on Poetry

    ts eliot essay on dante

  6. T. S. Eliot and Dante

    ts eliot essay on dante


  1. Kirko Bangz


  3. CONVIVIUM 2023 Poetry and Perception

  4. T.S. Eliot 4 Quartets

  5. How to Write an Essay Introduction on T.S. Eliot (+ Band 6 Example)

  6. Tradition and the Individual Talent T. S. Eliot


  1. A Talk on Dante

    T. S. Eliot AA TALK ON DANTE' M AY I explain first why I hiave clhoscn, not to deliver a lecture about Dante, but to talk informally about his influence upon myself? What might appear egotism, in (loing tlis, I present as modesty; and the modesty wlich it pretends to be is merely prudence. I am in no way a Dante sclholar; and

  2. 'What Dante Means to Me'

    The intention, of course, was the same as with my allusions to Dante in The Waste Land: to present to the mind of the reader a parallel, by means of contrast, between the Inferno and the Purgatorio, which Dante visited and a hallucinated scene after an air-raid.

  3. Project MUSE

    The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot: The Critical Edition Vol. 7: A European Society, 1947-1953. Talk on Dante [What Dante Means to Me] ... into a brief essay. As I explained in the original preface to that essay, I read Dante only with a prose translation beside the text. 3 Forty years ago I began to puzzle out the Divine Comedy in this way; and ...

  4. PDF T. S. Eliot, Dante, and the Idea of Europe

    In asking what Eliot made of Dante, and what Dante meant to Eliot, the writers here assess the legacy of Modernism by engaging its "classicist" roots, covering a wide spectrum of topics radiating from the central node of Dante's presence in the poetry and criticism of Eliot. The essays included reflect upon Eliot's aesthetic, philosophical, and ...

  5. Project MUSE

    Dante, by T. S. Eliot. London: Faber and Faber, 1929. Pp. 69; Preface, 11-13. If my task had been to produce another brief "introduction to the study of Dante" I should have been incompetent to perform it. But in a series of essays of "Poets on Poets" the undertaking, as I understand it, is quite a different one.

  6. T. S. Eliot's Virgil: Dante

    90. 2T. S. Eliot, "What Dante Means to Me," To Criticize the Critic and Other Writings (Lon don: Faber & Faber, 1965), p. 125. The following passages cited from this essay are from pp. 133-35. The passage from "What Is a Classic?" is taken from On Poetry and Poets, ist American ed. (1957; rpt. New York: Farrar, Straus 8c Giroux, 1979), p. 72. 5?

  7. Dante (T.S. Eliot)

    T.S. Eliot considered Dante to be his stylistic and existential model and his Divine Comedy a fundamental reading for the appreciation of modern poetry in any language. He maintained that Dante appealed to universal concepts, which is the aspect that made his poem successful throughout the centuries and across the world.

  8. Dante (1929); Animula (1929); Marina (1930)

    This little book on Dante may be considered from at least three points of view: as an introduction to Dante, as a discussion of poetry and belief, and as an amplification of what might be called Mr. Eliot's classical ideal. Mr.

  9. "T. S. Eliot, Dante and the Poetics of a "Unified Sensibility", T. S

    A valuable and timely collection of essays that illuminates and deepens our understanding of Eliot's lifelong creative debt to Dante, bringing an impressive array of texts and traditions-Eastern and Western, medieval and postmodern-to bear upon Dante's dynamic, tutelary presence, not only in Eliot's work, but in the innovations of modern literatura throughout Europe and America.

  10. Dante in T.S. Eliot's

    Dante in T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets: Vision, Mysticism, and the Mind's Journey to God Get access Anna Aresi Literature and Theology, Volume 30, Issue 4, December 2016, Pages 398-409, Published: 16 May 2015 Cite Permissions Share

  11. The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and

    Author: T. S. Eliot Release Date: August 28, 2018 [EBook #57795] Language: English Character set encoding: UTF-8 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE SACRED WOOD *** Produced by Meredith Bach, David King, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This

  12. T. S. Eliot and Dante

    Dominic Manganiello. Springer, Oct 13, 1989 - Literary Criticism - 212 pages. Ezra Pound belatedly conceded that T.S.Eliot "was the true Dantescan voice" of the modern world. With this assertion in mind, this study examines the relationship between the two poets. It attempts to show how Dante's total vision impinges on Eliot's craft and thought.

  13. Selected Essays, 1917-1932

    Selected Essays, 1917-1932 is a collection of prose and literary criticism by T. S. Eliot.Eliot's work fundamentally changed literary thinking and Selected Essays provides both an overview and an in-depth examination of his theory. It was published in 1932 by his employers, Faber & Faber, costing 12/6 (2009: £32). In addition to his poetry, by 1932, Eliot was already accepted as one of ...

  14. Dante by T. S. Eliot

    The original edition of the most famous essay dedicated by the American poet and writer Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965) to Dante's work, published in the editorial series "The Poets on the Poets". As printed in the flap of the dust jacket, "This essay is not an academic 'introduction'; it is a personal account of the way in which the author ...

  15. Dante

    T.S. Eliot (1888-1965). The Sacred Wood. 1921. Dante M. P AUL V ALÉRY, a writer for whom I have considerable respect, has placed in his most recent statement upon poetry a paragraph which seems to me of very doubtful validity.

  16. Hamlet by T. S. Eliot

    The 1948 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, T.S. Eliot is highly distinguished as a poet, a literary critic, a dramatist, an editor, and a publisher. In 1910 and 1911, while still a college student, he wrote " The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock ," published in Poetry magazine, and... Few critics have even admitted that Hamlet the ...

  17. The Ways Dante Influenced T.s.eliot's Works

    T.S. Eliot is considered one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century and his poetry was greatly influenced by Dante Alighieri. Eliot's introduction to Dante was in his college years at Harvard, where he studied philosophy.

  18. Divine Comedy: Paradiso Essay

    Dante's Influences on T.S. Eliot William Hunnicutt. T.S. Eliot is considered one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century and his poetry was greatly influenced by Dante Alighieri. Eliot's introduction to Dante was in his college years at Harvard, where he studied philosophy. Eliot read Dante's works extensively in college and may have ...

  19. Selected Essays : T S Eliot : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming

    dc.subject.keywords: Selected Essays dc.subject.keywords: T S Eliot ... Selected Essays. Addeddate 2017-01-19 12:49:33 Identifier in.ernet.dli.2015.220297 Identifier-ark ark:/13960/t03z3jt4t Ocr ABBYY FineReader 11.0 Ppi 600 Scanner Internet Archive Python library 1.2.0.dev4. plus-circle Add Review.

  20. T. S. Eliot

    Thomas Stearns Eliot OM (26 September 1888 - 4 January 1965) was a poet, essayist, publisher, playwright, literary critic and editor. [1] He is considered to be one of the 20th century's greatest poets, as well as a central figure in English-language Modernist poetry.

  21. T.S. Eliot

    T.S. Eliot (born September 26, 1888, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.—died January 4, 1965, London, England) American-English poet, playwright, literary critic, and editor, a leader of the Modernist movement in poetry in such works as The Waste Land (1922) and Four Quartets (1943). Eliot exercised a strong influence on Anglo-American culture from the 1920s until late in the century.

  22. Module B Essay

    Eliot. (939 words) The quest for understanding and enlightenment is futile within the constraints of empty societal constructs. T.S Eliot's oeuvre of poems depicts the tension between the vacuity of modern European society and the universal journey for self-discovery, fabricating a canonical piece that is inherently laced with textual integrity.

  23. T. S. Eliot Bibliography 2022

    "'The Aspern Papers in Reverse': A Note on the Emily Hale Letters." Essays in Criticism: A Quarterly Journal of Literary Criticism 72, no. 3 (July 2022): 383-91. Kumar, Dinesh. "A Critical Appraisal of T. S. Eliot's Tradition and Individual Talent." ... "'What Dante Means to Me': Dante ed Eliot fra i modernisti americani ...