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758 ] Lecture Notes for English 26: English Literature from 1890 to the Present Day TSE taught English 26: Contemporary English Literature, with the assistance of Professor Theodore Spencer, on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the spring semester, beginning on 7 Feb 1933 and concluding on 4 May, with a final exam on 9 June. Before returning to England, he gave the notes to Spencer, who eventually placed them in Eliot House with the following note: “These lectures were delivered by T. S. Eliot in the spring of 1933 when he was staying in Eliot House . . . The course was given at Harvard in Sever 6, and . . . was limited to 20 selected students. Mr. Eliot gave the lecture notes to me when he left in June, 1933, ‘having no further use for them,’ and they are now presented by me to the Eliot House Library. Theodore Spencer / April, 1936.” When librarian J. McG. Bottkol wrote to ask about access and quotation, TSE replied on 11 May 1936: “I think it would be better . . . if permission to transcribe them, quote from them, or use them in any way were only given after obtaining my consent in each case. After all, I don’t in the least remember what is in those notes, and they may require a good deal of interpretation.” A student in the course, C. L. Sulzberger, later recalled: “We were illumined by his brilliant mind. . . . Timid and withdrawn as Eliot was in class, he had a talent for banging the piano and singing a huge number of limericks, some of which I suspect he had written himself. I liked him despite the fact that he gave me a poor mark on my term paper. Its subject was ‘The Undergraduate Poetry of T. S. Eliot.’” A Long Row of Candles: Memoirs and Diaries 1934-1954 (NY: Macmillan, 1969), 4. See textual note. English 26. I Warning about my own limitations. Ignorance and Prejudice – reasons for. Do not intend to supply any information that can be got out of books. Shall only give information from personal knowledge which cannot be got from books; and for the rest a guide towards private reading and original thinking. Seminar spirit – free discussion. Whystudycontemporaryliteratureatall?isthefirstquestion.Obviously cannot be studied by the same methods as literature of a past period. No values are settled, nor is the general historical import of anything clear. Student must rely very much upon his own sensibility and judgment and decide what is worth while for him. Should not attempt to inform himself comprehensively by first-hand knowledge of every writer with a [ 759 Lecture Notes for English 26 reputation. I assume that everyone here has some notion of what he is interested in, and wishes to concentrate rather than disperse. Study of contemporary literature is learning to know what we want to read and why. Should fit in with study of past literature and history – the prime motive for studying the past is that without studying it we cannot understand the present; and we cannot understand the past except by seeing it in relation to the present. Find out first what you can enjoy reading. After you have enjoyed it as literature, you can sociologise and psychologise about it as much as you like – but the useless analysis of literature is made by those who have not enjoyed it first. Unless you appreciate it as literature you have no data. Background in Nineteenth Century (What one should know.) Poetry. Browning the only poet to devise a way of speech which might be useful for others. The Pre-Raphaelites (Swinburne – Rossetti) affected the 90s. Browning’s lesson is use of non-poetic material – in re-asserting relation of poetry to speech.1 Gradual influence of French poetry. The writers of the 90s used it wrongly. TheNovel.Hereagainforeigninfluenceimportant.TwogreatVictorians – Meredith and Hardy – survive into our period. Must be regarded as survivors because they have little influence upon present. Conrad and James another literary generation. The standard for the novel is not set by the great Victorians, but by French and Russian. Stendhal and Flaubert. (Maupassant, Huysmans, Zola). Compare Battle of Waterloo in Vanity Fair with ditto in Chartreuse de Parme. Russian influence. Turgenev on Henry James (read Fathers and Sons, Sportsman’s Sketches). War and Peace. Brothers Karamazov. Huysmans. GeneralIdeas.Newmanvs.Arnold–Pater.JohnStuartMill–thechange of Victorian individualism into Fabian socialism. Rationalism: Sir Leslie Stephen. Spencer, Huxley. Toryism: Disraeli, Sir Henry Maine (Popular Government)2 develops into Imperialism (Henley, Kipling). Imperialism a transient mood...


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