Intra-Poetic Relationship: T. S. Eliot's Dialogue with Tradition

  • Rajni Singh Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram
Keywords: Dialogue, Harold Bloom, Individual Talent, IntraPoetic Relationship, Tradition, T. S. Eliot

Abstract

If it is to be believed that no art exists in a vacuum and
that it is in response to the preceding works of art, then the poetry
of T. S. Eliot would prove more befitting, engaging and intriguing
for the readers because of its relational approach and its
connection with tradition. What Bakhtin proposed in his theory of
dialogism was something that Eliot had already dealt with in his
poetics. His awareness of the past, his consciousness of his place
in time and his realization of not being able to get on without a
literary tradition, compelled him to leave Harvard in search of a
rich literary past, which could offer him the 'Whole'. His sojourn
in Paris and London are suggestive of his aim to establish
dialogues with the various literary traditions, right from French,
English to Indic. His dialogues with his immediate predecessors
can perhaps best be joined within the frame work of Tradition and
the Individual Talent. In this paper, I demonstrate the ways in
which Eliot endeavoured to come close to his precursors during
his visit to Paris and London, partly for assimilation and partly
for rejection. I will also probe into his historical sense to bring to
the fore his intra-poetic relationships, particularly with the
prominent Victorian poet, Tennyson and the way these influences
were integral to his development as poet, critic and artist. His
changing responses to his precursor made him a strong (in
Bloomian sense) and major 'Twentieth Century English Poet'.

References

Mikhail M. Bakhtin, "Discourse in the Novel," reprinted, The

Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, ed., Michael Holquist, trans., Caryl

Emerson and Michael Holquist, Austin and London: University of

Texas Press, 1981, 294. <http://www.rlwclarke.net/Theory/SourcesPrimary/BakhtinDiscourseintheNovel.pdf> (5 Jan 2016).

Norman Holland, "Unity Identity Text Self," PMLA, Vol. 90, No. 5

(Oct., 1975), pp. 813-822, 816. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/461467> (6 March 2016).

Thomas Stearns Eliot, "Tradition and the Individual Talent,"

<http://www.bartleby.com/200/sw4.html> (16 Feb. 2016).

Eliot, "Tradition and the Individual Talent."

Despite being steeped in Emerson (through his mother), Eliot

never wanted to join the emerging American line of Emerson and

Whitman. Gordon informs: "During his junior and senior years at

Harvard, he became aware that there was not one older poet writing in

America whose writing a younger man could take seriously." Lyndall

Gordon, The Imperfect Life of T. S. Eliot, London: Virago, 2012, 45.

Richard Ruland and Malcolm Bradbury, From Puritanism to

Postmodernism: A History of American Literature, New York: Viking Penguin, 1991, xi-xiii.

Ruland and Bradbury, From Puritanism to Postmodernism, xi-xii.

Hugh Kenner, "A Homemade World," The American Modernist

Writers, Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1989.

Lyndall Gordon says: "Eliot had suffered from the inertia of his

class, Harvard clichés and Boston Manners." The clatter and chatter of

the society, the false delicacy and exaggerated solicitudes appeared to

him no less than mediocrity. Gordon, The Imperfect Life of T. S. Eliot, 25.

Gordon writes that Eliot's decision to visit Paris in 1910 and his

stay in London in 1915 "puzzled and alarmed his parents because he

was spending years writing poetry that was published only

sporadically and in little-known magazines." Gordon, The Imperfect Life

of T. S. Eliot, 17.

Gordon, The Imperfect Life of T. S. Eliot, 32.

Nancy Duvall Hargrove, T. S. Eliot's Parisian Year, Florida: University Press of Florida, 2010, 7.

Hargrove, T. S. Eliot's Parisian Year, 7.

Erik Svarny, "The Men of 1914": T. S. Eliot and Early Modernism, Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1988, 47-48.

Gordon writes: "The two young men played important roles

during Eliot's year in Paris, providing him with close friends who

shared his sensibilities, his passion for philosophy, literature, the arts,

and many of his character traits." Gordon, The Imperfect Life of T. S. Eliot, 34.

David Ned Tobin, The Presence of the Past: T. S. Eliot's Victorian Inheritance, Michigan: UMI Research Press, 1983, 84.

T. S. Eliot, The Complete Poems and Plays of T. S. Eliot, 1-6, 25, 77- 78, London: Faber and Faber, 1970, 592.

All subsequent citations from Eliot's poems are from this book. Hereafter only line numbers will be

given below the quoted lines.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 89.

Alfred Tennyson, The Poems and Plays of Alfred Lord Tennyson,

New York: The Modern Library, 1938, 166. All subsequent citations

from Tennyson's poems are from this book. Hereafter only line

numbers will be given the quoted lines.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 75.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 91-92.

In the Houghton Library's collection of books owned and

autographed by Eliot there is a copy of this book, purchased during his Harvard years.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 100.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 109.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 102-103.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 110.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 102.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 111.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 113.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 114.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 115.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 115.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 117.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 118.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 118.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 119.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 121.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 122.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 123.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 125.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 139.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 139.

Tobin, The Presence of the Past, 149.

Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973, 5.

Eliot, "Tradition and the Individual Talent."

Bakhtin, "Discourse in the Novel," 294.

Published
2017-03-29
How to Cite
Singh, R. (2017). Intra-Poetic Relationship: T. S. Eliot’s Dialogue with Tradition. Journal of Dharma, 42(1), 47-66. Retrieved from http://dvkjournals.in/index.php/jd/article/view/103