T. S. Eliot is one of the greatest literary critics of England from the point of view of the bulk and quality of his critical writings. T. S. Eliot, full name Thomas Stearns Eliot was also a Poet, Essayist, Publisher, Playwright, Literary critic, and Editor of England. He is considered one of the 20th-century major poets. His five-hundred-one essays published as reviews and articles from time to the time have had a reading influence on literary criticism. Eliot made English criticism look different. His criticism was revolutionary which inverted the critical tradition of the whole of English literature.
John Hayward On T. S. Eliot
John Hayward a famous literary critic and probably known as a friend and advisor of T. S. Eliot says about him:
“I cannot think of a critic who has been
more widely read and discussed
in his own lifetime; and not only
in English but in almost every language,
Eliot’s criticism has revolutionized the great writers of the past three centuries. His recognition of the greatness of the Metaphysical poets of the 17th century resulted in the Metaphysical revival of the 20th century. The credit for the renewal of interest in Jacobean Dramatist goes to Eliot. He has restored Dryden and other Augustan Poets to their place. According to Eliot, the end of criticism is to bring readjustment between the old and the new. He say:
“From time to time it desirable that some critic
shall appear to review the past of our literature,
and set the poets and the poems in a new order.”
Such criticism is rare for they must possess, besides the ability for judgment, powerful liberty of mind to identify and interpret their own values and category of admiration for their generation.
“John Howard,” says:
“Matthew Arnold was such a critic as were Coleridge,
Johnson and Dryden before him; and such in our own day, is Eliot himself.”
Eliot’s criticism offers both a reassessment and a reaction to earlier writers. He called himself “a classicist in literature”. His vital contribution is the reaction against “romanticism and Humanism” which brought a classical revival in art and criticism. He rejected the romantic view of the individual’s perfectibility, stressed the doctrine of original sin, and exposed the futility of the romantic faith in the “Inner Voice, A critic must follow objective standards and must conform to tradition. A sense of tradition, respect for order, and authority are central to Eliot’s classicism. In his objectivity and logical attitude Eliot must closely resemble Aristotle.
A.G. George On T. S. Eliot
A. G. George says:
“Eliot’s theory of the impersonality
is the greatest theory. On the nature
of the process after Wordsworth’s
romantic conception of poetry.”
Poetry was an expression of the emotions and personality of romantics ‘Wordsworth’ said that “Poetry was an overflow of powerful emotions and its origin is in Emotion’s recollected in tranquility”. Eliot rejects this view and says that poetry is not an expression of emotion and personality but an escape from them. Eliot’s view on the nature of the poetic process is equally revolutionary. According to him, poetry is not inspiration it is organization. The poet’s mind is like a vessel in which are stored numerous feelings emotions and experiences.
Perfect poetry results when instead of “dissociation of sensibility” there is “Unification of Sensibility”. The critic stressed that the aim of poetry is to give pleasure or to teach morally. Eliot devised numerous critical concepts that gained wide currency and has a brand influence on criticism.
- Objective co-relative.
- Dissociation of sensibility.
- Unification of Sensibility.
Thus, Eliot’s influence as a critic has been wide constant, fruitful, and inspiring. He has corrected and educated the taste of his readers and brought about a rethinking regarding the function of poetry and the nature of the poetic process. He gave a new direction and new tools for criticism. As a critic, T. S. Eliot was greatest than anyone in English Literature.