Preface to For Lancelot Andrewes: Essays on Style and Order
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[ 513 Preface to For Lancelot Andrewes: Essays on Style and Order, by T. S. Eliot London: Faber & Gwyer, 1928. Pp. xii + 143; Preface, ix-x.1 Had I wished to publish a volume of collected literary essays, this book would have been much bigger. The reader may be puzzled to know why I selected these articles and in this order. I wished to indicate certain lines of development, and to disassociate myself from certain conclusions which have been drawn from my volume of essays, The Sacred Wood.2 To make my present position clear I have three small books in preparation which will not be ready for a considerable time. Meanwhile, I have made bold to unite these occasional essays merely as an indication of what may be expected, and to refute any accusation of playing ’possum. The general point of view may be described as classicist in literature, royalist in politics, and anglocatholic in religion. I am quite aware that the first term is completely vague, and easily lends itself to clap-trap; I am aware that the second term is at present without definition, and easily lends itself to what is almost worse than clap-trap, I mean temperate conservatism; the third term does not rest with me to define.3 The uncommon reader who is interested by these scattered papers may possibly be interested by the small volumes which I have in preparation: The School of Donne; The Outline of Royalism; and The Principles of Modern Heresy.4 IwishtoacknowledgemyobligationtotheeditorsofTheTimesLiterary Supplement, Theology, The Dial (New York), and The Forum (New York), in which reviews these essays appeared. T.S.E. Notes 1. Epigraph on title page: “Thou, Lord, Who walkest in the midst of the golden candlesticks, remove not, we pray Thee, our candlestick out its place; but set in order the things which are wanting among us, and strengthen those which remain, and are ready to die”; from The Devotions of Bishop Andrewes, trans. George Stanhope (Philadelphia: A. Walker, 1817), 53; dedication page: “For My Mother”; order of contents: I: Lancelot Andrewes; II: John Bramhall; III: Niccolò Machiavelli; IV: Francis Herbert Bradley; V: Baudelaire in our Time; VI: Thomas Middleton; VII: A Note on Richard Crashaw; VIII: The Humanism of Irving Babbitt. The volume was published on 20 Nov 1928. Framed statement on front of dust jacket: “This is Mr. Eliot’s first 1928 514 ] volume of collected essays since his Homage to John Dryden (1924), and he considers it his most important prose book since The Sacred Wood (1920). For Lancelot Andrewes consists of seven essays which are selected from Mr. Eliot’s work of the last two or three years, and which he believes show some consistency. The subjects cover a wide range of literature, theology and philosophy; but taken together they have a unity of their own.” 2. In Sept 1928, TSE send a proof copy of FLA to Paul Elmer More, to whose complimentary criticism TSE replied on 30 Sept: “I am well aware that the essays have not been adequately rewritten...HadIhadthetime,Iwouldhavedonemuchmore;butthebookwaspreciselypushed forward quickly in order to prepare my few readers for some change of orientation, and also to correct what seemed to me wrong interpretation of The Sacred Wood ” (L4 268). 3. TSE explained to his brother in a letter of 1 Jan 1936: “It was subsequently a few words of Irving Babbitt, when he dined with me in passing through London, that provoked the notorious preface to For Lancelot Andrewes. He said that I ought to come out into the open; and so I wrote that unlucky preface: but I had no suspicion that it would be so thumbed and quoted as it was. I was merely nettled by Babbitt’s suggestion that I was being secretive.” 4. None of these works appeared: “The School of Donne” was the working title for the never-completed revision of his Clark Lectures; TSE later subtitled his After Strange Gods (1934) as A Primer of Modern Heresy. ...