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By Eliot, Thomas Stearns; Grant, Michael; Eliot, Thomas Stearns

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Extra info for T.S. Eliot. : Volume 2 the critical heritage

Sample text

If we interpret action in the narrow or external sense, then according to Aristotle this play is not dramatic. But Mr. Eliot has always been more interested in action, and in the correlative suffering, on the spiritual plane. Eliot: The Critical Heritage religious beliefs, as can be seen from such books as his notorious ‘After Strange Gods,’ have opposed him to ‘liberalism,’ to any basically utilitarian doctrine of progress. From one point of view, then, Mr. Eliot is a reactionary, but he is at the same time a corrective to the facile optimism of many Leftist writers.

Mr. Eliot is bold enough to try a stage representing a modern English country house. On the realistic level Mr. Eliot is superb in his mastery of characterization (both the satiric and the sympathetic), handling of plot-sequence, exposition of background through dialogue, and, I imagine, such other techniques as belong to an oral form like drama. It is comforting to find that an intellectualist, so strict and unconceding that he has been accused of living in a tower, has picked up without any fuss the knack for the close structural effects of drama; it argues that his famous and original capacity as poet was inclusive rather than exclusive, and that our popular stage-drama, with whatever rigor it may claim, is not a very wonderful exercise of genius, and not a thing to which first-rate minds need feel under obligations to become addicted.

ELIOT’S NEW PLAY, ‘LONDON MERCURY’ April 1939, vol. xxxix, 641–2 Roberts (1902–48) was a poet, critic and anthologist. His ‘Collected Poems’ was published by Faber & Faber in 1958. In his introduction to ‘The Faber Book of Modern Verse’ (1936), which he edited, he gave sympathetic attention to Eliot’s work up to that date. It is a relief to be able to read a new verse drama with interest, to be fairly confident that no revolutionary flood is going to get the dramatist out of a tight corner and that nobody is going to die in the last ditch.

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