Little critical attention has hitherto been paid to the fact that, when seeking to define the "metaphysical" in poetry, T.S. Eliot repeatedly named as an example the Renaissance poet and dramatist George Chapman, alongside the more familiar influence of Donne. And yet Chapman's writing had, as this article argues, a demonstrable influence upon the development of Eliot's poetic in the years following The Waste Land, and especially upon his move towards the poetic drama. This influence is evident in the kinds of poetic conceits which Eliot was drawn to, both in the period 1919–27 and through to Four Quartets, and also in the debate about poetic obscurity which Eliot conducted at this time. It is further evident in the attempts, conducted through essays and reviews of this period, to reconcile a temperamental Stoicism (Chapman was perhaps the prime mediator of a Stoic vision in the English Renaissance) with Eliot's developing Christianity. Drawing upon a range of archival materials, and upon the introductions and commentaries of editions of Renaissance texts which we know that Eliot referred to when preparing his own writings on the earlier period, the article seeks to open up again a clearly vibrant and complex engagement for Eliot with Chapman's writing, one which then re-echoes across what we know as modernist poetics.


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pp. 22-43
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