SOME FIGURES BEHIND T. S. ELIOT by Herbert Howarth

SOME FIGURES BEHIND T. S. ELIOT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An intimate, industrious detective work which tracks down Eliot to the aglomerate roots of his emotional and intellectual environs. Inevitably a lot of the igging hits well-worn grooves, Eliot being the world's most explored living literary specimen. Nevertheless, in some instances, Herbert Howarth goes deeper, defines better and develops further than any of his copious competitors. Without doubt his concentration on certain aspects of Eliot's career clears up a number of puzzles, and presents avenues of approach, especially those relating to the St. Louis boyhood, the editorship of The Criterion, and the influence of Wagner, Beethoven and Stravinsky on the plays and poems, not to be found anywhere else. Further, Eliot's ""accumulated sensations"", his Unitarian background, the influence of his mother (a formidable presence always), the Harvard years of Santayana, Royce and Babbitt, and the Parisian ones of Bergson, the NRF, Riviere, Maurras, Benda and Hofmannstahl, are all tied pertinently with the more familiar figures, Laforgue, Pound, Auden etc. What Howarth doesn't do is entertain any Herculean explanation about modern literature's most tantalizingly successful schism, that between Eliot the man of rigorous rationalism and Eliot the mystic. But that would demand an altogether other and greater work.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 1963
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin