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The Sacred Wood by T. S. Eliot

The Sacred Wood (original 1920; edition 1997)

by T. S. Eliot (Author)

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Title:The Sacred Wood
Authors:T. S. Eliot (Author)
Info:Faber & Faber (1997), 176 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Sacred Wood by T. S. Eliot (1920)



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English (3)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (5)
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And probably more people have thought Hamlet a work of art because they found it interesting, than have found it interesting because it is a work of art. It is the “Mona Lisa “ of literature.

I harbor a tone of mixed response about this tome, much as I do towards the literary theory of Ezra Pound. There is much in these essays about the state of criticism, fuelled perhaps by optimism or hubris, the utility of the enterprise is something Eliot appears skeptical towards.

I really enjoyed the attention given to Shakespeare and his contemporaries Marlowe and Jonson. Eliot makes the curious remark that Marlowe's Jew of Malta need be understood as a farce otherwise the conclusion is incomprehensible. I felt like I did when I encountered Richard Rorty saying that Derrida has to be regarded as a comic author. Exhaling slowly I attempted to imagine what Eliot would've thought of Derrida himself.

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.

I appreciate the innocence in these terms but I imagine they are equipped with a resilience

I am on holiday this week and it will be spent in part on criticism, following Nathan's lead as it is time for such. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
These well-known essays are almost a hundred years old, and in spite of all the changes in taste and critical stance in that time, they remain stimulating. Again and again, one is astonished by Eliot's finding of exactly the right phrase, exactly the right insight to illuminate a poet or a passage. His penchant for the acerbic aperçu entertains and enlightens. His stately, measured, rather formal prose is a joy. As with any of Eliot's criticism there is the pontificating, the breathtakingly sweeping generalizations, the easy dismissal of opposition that feels like unseemly arrogance, and which some will l find hard to swallow. Nevertheless, these essays repay close attention and re-reading. ( )
1 vote sjnorquist | Apr 18, 2014 |
Not an easy or a quick read, with all these quotes from the French, Italian and Greek, and not at all clear to me whether Eliot has real purpose or is simply showing off his erudition. The reader is assumed to be familiar with (or at least to know quite a lot of) minor as well as major Elizabethan dramatists, French as well as English writers and critics, and the works of Dante in the original. One wonders who is the intended audience and whether there really are so many of them that this little book, first published 1920, merited new editions in '28, '32, '34, '45 and in this case '48. Presumably Eng Lit students with their noses to the gindstone. Still, I did enjoy it . . .
1 vote NaggedMan | Mar 12, 2013 |
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Poetry is a superior amusement ... if you call it anything else you are likely to call it something still more false. .. It will not do to talk of "emotion recollected in tranquillity", which is only one poet's account of his recollection of his own methods; or to call it a "criticism of life", than which no phrase can sound more frigid to anyone who has felt the full surprise and elevation of a new experience of poetry. It is not the inculcation of morals, or the direction of politics, nor an equivalent of religion. It is something over and above a collection of psychological data about the minds of poets, or the history of an epoch. ... We begin with poetry as excellent words in excellent arrangement and excellent metre. That is what is called the technique of verse. ... A poem, in some sense, has its own life ... the feeling, or emotion, or vision, resulting from the poem is something quite different from the feeling or emotion or vision in the mind of the poet.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0571190898, Paperback)

First published in 1920, this is T.S. Eliot's first collection of literary criticism. It contains some of his most influential early essays and reviews, including "Tradition and the Individual Talent", "Hamlet and His Problems", and Eliot's thoughts on Marlowe, Jonson, Massinger and Dante.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:51 -0400)

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