The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures for 1932-33. The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism: Studies in the Relation of Criticism to Poetry in England, by T. S. Eliot
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574 ] The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism: Studies in the Relation of Criticism to Poetry in England, by T. S. Eliot London: Faber & Faber, 1933, 1964. Pp. 1561 The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures for 1932-332 CONTENTS Preface to Original Edition Preface to the 1964 Edition I. Introduction II. Apology for the Countess of Pembroke III. The Age of Dryden IV. Wordsworth and Coleridge V. Shelley and Keats VI. Matthew Arnold VII. The Modern Mind VIII. Conclusion Preface to Original Edition These lectures, delivered at Harvard University during the winter of 193233 , owe much to an audience only too ready to applaud merit and condone defect; but I am aware that such success as they had was largely dramatic, and that they will be still more disappointing to those who heard them than they will be to those who did not.3 I should much prefer to leave my auditors with whatever impression they then received; but by the terms of the Foundation by Mr. Stillman the lectures must be submitted for publication, and within a fixed period.4 Thus I explain my commission of another unnecessary book. I am glad, however, of the opportunity to record in print my obligation to the President and Fellows of Harvard College; to the Norton Professorship Committee; and in particular my gratitude to Professor John Livingston Lowes; to the Master of Eliot House and Mrs. Merriman, with most pleasant memories of the Associates and Tutors of the House; to [ 575 Prefaces, 1933/1964 Dr. Theodore Spencer; and to Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Dwight Sheffield for innumerable criticisms and suggestions.5 I much regret that while I was preparing these lectures for delivery in America, Mr. I. A. Richards was in England; and that while I was preparing them for publication in England, he was in America. I had hoped that they might have the benefit of his criticism.6 T.S.E. London, August 1933. Preface to Edition of 1964 It is said that Yeats had more than enough of “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” as his anthology piece. In my youth “La Figlia Che Piange” was favoured as the most innocuous of my poems, but in later years I have been more fairly represented (though I should be glad to hear no more of a bang and a whimper.)7 But with my essays I have not been so fortunate. Just as any student of contemporary literature, putting pen to paper about my criticism , is certain to pass an examination on it if he alludes to the “dissociation of sensibility” and the “objective correlative,” so every anthologist wishing to include a sample of my essays will choose “Tradition and the Individual Talent” – perhaps the most juvenile and certainly the first to appear in print.8 I reprint The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism in the faint hope that one of these lectures may be taken instead of “Tradition and the Individual Talent” by some anthologist of the future. That, the best known of my essays, appeared in 1917, when I had taken over the assistant-editorship of The Egoist on Richard Aldington’s being called up for military service, and before I had been asked to contribute to any other periodical.9 The lectures which compose the present book were written during the winter of 1932-33. I had been honoured with appointment to the Charles Eliot Norton Professorship at Harvard – a position offered annually to some man of letters, American or European, for the period of one year. I did not find leisure to prepare the lectures until I arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the autumn of 1932, and so they had to be composed, under considerable pressure, during the period of my residence there. Nevertheless, after re-reading them twice, I found to my surprise that I was still prepared to accept them as a statement of my critical position. My earliest critical essays, dating from a period when I was somewhat under the influence of Ezra Pound’s enthusiasm for Remy de Gourmont, Lectures in America, 1932-33 576 ] came to seem to me the product of immaturity – though I do not repudiate “Tradition and the Individual Talent.”10 The eight lectures in this volume, in spite of the fact that some of them were written in the course of delivering the series, seem to me still valid. At least, I am ashamed neither of the style nor of the matter. Not having looked...