T.S. Eliot: The Critic as Philosopher

Available Formats for this title

Hardback
07/08/1979
$11.95

About this title

Purdue University Press
1979

Description

Eliot is a disconcerting writer.  Though trained in philosophy, he spoke repeatedly of his incapacity for abstruse reasoning, as well as noting such  other shortcomings as his incompetence and lack of interest in aesthetics.  When in 1964 he published Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F. H. Bradley, he professed not to understand it and presented it only as a curiosity of biographical interest which shows how his own prose style was formed on that of Bradley.  These curios statements have served to reinforce the common assumption that Eliot left his philosophy in his dissertation or that, in any event, with the supervention of religion he went blind in his philosophic eye.

 

The consequence has been, as The Critic as Philosopher shows, that Eliot and his commentators have been talking at cross-purposes.  Moreover, commentators who ignore or discount Eliot's Bradleyan philosophy cannot as a rule find a meaning for the language of the critical prose - either Eliot does not mean what he says of what he says does not mean anything.  Lewis Freed's study reveals, on the positive side, that the critical prose - reviews, prefaces, essays, lectures - is informed by a definite theory of philosophy, and it is the same theory or philosophy in the later as in the earlier prose.  Eliot chose to preserve his philosophy in cryptogram, and The Critic as Philosopher explains how he uses his philosophy without exposing it.  In this sense, the present work is a study of Eliot's habits of prose composition - his "style."