The religious dimensions of T.S. Eliot's early life, poetry, and thought

Childs, Donald J.

Philosophy; Religion; Literature; Mass media; Performing arts
March 1984

Thesis or dissertation

© 1984 Donald J Childs. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This thesis is a contribution to the arqument that T. S. Eliot's life, poetry, and thought form a continuous,  consistent, and coherent whole. Toward this end, it explores the religious dimensions of Eliot's early readings in philosophy, anthropology, Christian mysticism, and Christian theology.The first chapter discusses Eliot's acquaintance with the work of T. E. Hulme, Irving Babbitt, and Charles  Maurras-- showing sources in their political and literary conservatism for Eliot's religious conservatism. The  following chapter, concentrating upon the impact of J. G. Frazer's Golden Bough demonstrates the ways in  which Eliot used his early anthropological readings to articulate his spiritual concerns. The next chapter  explores Henri Bergson's continuing influence upon Eliot--despite the latter's occasionally dismissive attitude toward the former--emphasizing the ways in which Bergsonism catered to Eliot's predisposition towards  mysticism. Similarly,  chapter four emphasizes the pervasive conceptual influence of F. H. Bradley who, as the  subject of Eliot's Harvard dissertation, not surprisingly appears in the language by which Eliot later articulates  his religious and poetic beliefs. Chapter five discusses Eliot's readings in mysticism during his final years at  Harvard. Evelyn Underhill's Mysticism proves a particularly active and enduring influence. The final chapter  explores the impact upon Eliot of his early reading of various Anglican divines--including, among others Lancelot Andrewes, John Donne, and Hugh Latimer.The conclusion reached is that a large part of the pattern in the carpet of Eliot's mature poetry and thought is  woven from the religious elements in his early reading. In short, Eliot's end is very much apparent in his  beginning.

Department of English, The University of Hull
Brett, R. L.
Sponsor (Organisation)
Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the United Kingdom
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