Tuesday, September 20, 2005Let me offer some clarification about my earlier comments on T.S. Eliot. I like Eliot a great deal, as I've already mentioned. As it relates to my own criticism of "The Wasteland," I offer this: Perhaps the poem itself isn't overrated, but might it be possible that modernism is? After talking with an English professor whom I respect very much, I acknowledge that I had failed to place the poem in its proper context. That context, of course, is the school of modernism where Eliot is a giant, along with James Joyce and Ezra Pound.
My comments were not well-developed, as I confused my own opinions of modernism with a particular poem. Shame on me. That said, I do enjoy much of Eliot's work and I certainly enjoy what I've read of his social and cultural criticism. As both a conservative and a Christian, I acknowledge the vast contributions he made to the intellectual development of both frameworks during the twentieth century. His poetry is worth understanding, if for no other reason than it best represents the confusing tumult that encapsulated the Western world in the wake of World War I and all its vast social, cultural, technological and economic changes. My own prejudices to Yeats and Auden should not have obscured that fact. And while Eliot joins Pound as the most noted of all modernist poets, it is fair to say that his work stands on its own, regardless of whatever stylistic genre it helps to define.