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Language and Irony: T.S. Eliot’s Response to Nihilism

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Title: Language and Irony: T.S. Eliot’s Response to Nihilism
Authors: Kim, Glenn
Issue Date: 15 Jan 2014
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: There is only the fight to recover what has been lost And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions That seem unpropitious. ("East Coker") In the preface to the 1928 edition of The Sacred Wood, T. S. Eliot declares that in the eight years since its first appearance a shift has occurred in his thinking: “not so much a change or reversal of opinions, as an expansion or development of interests” (TSW vii). Eliot specifies the nature of this development of interests by writing that he has passed on to another problem not touched upon in this book: that of the relation of poetry to the spiritual and social life of its time and of other times. This book is logically as well as chronologically the beginning; I do not, on the whole, repudiate it; so I beg the reader who has the benevolence to read it as something more than a mere collection of essays and reviews, to have the patience to consider it as an introduction to a larger and more difficult subject. (TSW viii) Poetry remains his principal subject. But he now believes that the problem of "the relation of poetry to the spiritual and social life of its time" must be addressed. He now realizes that poetry cannot be completely torn from the cultural and societal setting from which it derives, upon which it comments, and within which it is judged. And as we shall see more clearly later, although he has not yet fully articulated the notion, Eliot has concluded that the society he finds himself a part of is not conducive to the proper evaluation of poetry, a fact indicating serious disease in areas of the society in no way involved with the writing or criticism of poetry. For implicit in the development of Eliot's critical position is the belief that poetry can only be properly evaluated within an ordered system of values which must come from the society in which the poetry is written and read. And the value system is in trouble.
Pages/Duration: 42 pages
Rights: All UHM Honors Projects are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Honors Projects for English

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