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"I Bought and Praised But Did Not Read Aquinas": T.S. Eliot, Jacques Maritain, And the Ontology of the Sign.

Yeats Eliot Review 2010, Spring-Summer, 27, 1-2

Yeats Eliot Review

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In W.H. Auden's sociological send up of England in the nineteen-twenties, that almost clinical answer to Wordsworth's Prelude titled "Letter to Lord Byron," he portrays himself as the bien pensant young poet, come from the provinces up to Oxford to imbibe the canons of high modernist sensibility. He makes, naturally, an exaggerated bow to the magus of modernism, T.S. Eliot, and his organ of good taste, The Criterion. "Eliot spoke the still unspoken word," Auden writes, teaching him to abandon the Georgian pastorals of Edward Thomas and Thomas Hardy in preference for "gas-works and dried tubers" (Auden Prose 1.333). This obvious reference to The Waste Land is followed by a caricature of the young poet that effectively interprets Eliot's poem of 1922 in terms of the Classicism and Anglo-Catholicism its author would a few years later come to promote in his journal. Auden continues, The "Letter to Lord Byron" does not set out to depict Auden as the idiosyncratic virtuoso who appears in so many of his other works. It attempts rather to portray its author as typical of his generation, and, for such a character as he, Eliot's Criterion was identified in some ambiguous fashion with St. Thomas Aquinas; or, to be precise, with the neo-Scholastic or neo-Thomist movements that had sprung up in all the Catholic intellectual centers of Europe, and above all in Paris, Rome, and Louvain. (2)

"I Bought and Praised But Did Not Read Aquinas": T.S. Eliot, Jacques Maritain, And the Ontology of the Sign.
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  • Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Published: 22 March 2010
  • Publisher: Murphy Newsletter Services
  • Print Length: 35 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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