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[ 93 “The Rock” To the Editor of The Spectator The Spectator, 152 (8 June 1934) 8871 Sir, – Mr. Verschoyle’s amiable review of The Rock in your issue of June 1st leaves me wondering what he thinks that the production was intended to be.2 The “play” makes no pretence of being a “contribution to English dramatic literature”: it is a revue. My only seriously dramatic aim was to show that there is a possible rôle for the Chorus: an aim which would have failed completely without the aid of a perfectly trained group of speakers like Miss Fogerty’s.3 And to consider The Rock as an “official apologia” for church-building is to lay a weight upon it which this rock was never intended to bear.4 It is not an apologia for the campaign, but an advertisement. If I had meant to write an apologia – I do not know whether many other people besides Mr. Verschoyle think that one is needed – I should have written a prose pamphlet. I also wonder what Mr. Verschoyle wanted, when he speaks of my “reluctance to commit myself to logical justification” and my “unwillingness to substantiate my beliefs.”5 He does not make matters clearer by referring to “despair of the Church’s attitude towards such questions as Housing and Population” – a despair which we are to believe has helped to convert people to Communism or Fascism.6 Let me recommend for reading, to Communists, Fascists, and Mr. Verschoyle, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech at the Guildhall on March 12th, on the subject of Housing.7 And as for Population, would Mr. Verschoyle have wished me to tax my poetic resources by making my Chorus declaim about Birth-Control? In conclusion, may I repeat what every author knows: that criticism is only valuable to an author when it is particularized? — I am, Sir, etc.,  T. S. Eliot The Criterion, 24 Russell Square, W. C. 1. Notes 1. The CC is dated 1 June. 2. Derek Verschoyle (1911-73), literary editor of the Spectator, published “The Theatre” in the Spectator, 152 (1 June 1934), 851. Essays, Reviews, Commentaries, and Public Letters: 1934 94 ] 3. Elsie Fogerty (1865-1945) was a teacher of drama, elocution, and voice. She founded the Central School of Speech and Drama in 1906 and trained such actors as Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, and Peggy Ashcroft. The chorus in The Rock consisted of pupils trained by her. TSE wrote to Theodore Spencer on 20 June 1934 that they “did their job admirably” (L7 242). 4. “Apart, therefore, from its place as a contribution to English dramatic literature, The Rock is to be considered as an official apologia for the campaign of church-building which the fund was started to finance” (851). 5. “Mr. Eliot’s defense of the Church is based rather on invocations than on definition, and he seems reluctant to commit himself to logical justification. For the most part the Church’s cause is assumed and not stated, and at times Mr. Eliot’s unwillingness to substantiate his beliefs makes him appear to be doing little more than strike an attitude” (851). 6. “Acceptance of Fascism or Communism is for many of their followers the result, not the cause, of dissatisfaction with the Church. The causes in many instances lie elsewhere; in, for example, despair of the Church’s attitude towards such questions as Housing and Population. Mr. Eliot does not touch upon the latter problem, and only deals fragmentarily with the former” (851). 7. As reported in the Times of 16 Mar 1934, the Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Gordon Lang (1864-1945) presided at a meeting of the Church Union Housing Association held at the Guildhall on 15 Mar. In outlining the housing issues faced in postwar years, he identified three major problems to be addressed: “the clearance of slums; the evil of overcrowding; and the necessity of providing houses at rents suitable for the lower paid workers” (8). ...


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