Eliot, Joyce and Company by Stanley Sultan

By Stanley Sultan

Trained through a writer's view of the way a author works, this perceptive examine illuminates the careers of 2 significant figures of 20th-century literature, T.S. Eliot and James Joyce. Sultan engages in a distinct type of ancient feedback, mixing a literary heritage of Modernism with a richly intimate wisdom of its key works--"The Love music of J. Alfred Prufrock," The Waste Land, and Ulysses--and confronting questions of literary idea implicit within the modernist interval. In doing so, he examines the antecedents of Modernism, targeting 3 significant influences--Flaubert, Baudelaire, and Dostoyevsky--and then strains the impression of Eliot and Joyce on their contemporaries, together with Virginia Woolf and Wallace Stevens. Concluding with an appraisal of Eliot's and Joyce's influence at the readers and writers of this day, Eliot, Joyce and Company sheds significant mild at the careers of those writers, on their works, and at the background of Modernism.

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The source of new poetry . . 12 The words "possibilities" and of course "developed" are important, for he was familiar with recent treatments of "sordid aspects of the modern metropolis" by W. E. " The young Eliot learned "from him, as from Laforgue" that he could make "new poetry" about a world of onenight cheap hotels, soot, and sewers—and have a vision of mermaids occur in his poem. Equally important, Baudelaire and, on subsequent evidence, Conrad (but not Laforgue or the minor British poets of the time) showed him it was possible to make moving and profound art about what was to become a major modernist preoccupation: the impress of urban industrial civilization on the human spirit.

A new (original) poet develops in response to certain of "the dead poets and artists" who created the "existing order," the "form . . of literature," in the words of the passage in "Tradition and the Individual Talent" repeatedly cited by students of literary influence; and development in the "order" of literature itself is described in the same passage: "the past [is] altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past"—"in the light of what is new we see the past in a new pattern," as Eliot put it nearly four decades later, in 1953.

Valerie Eliot (New York: Harcourt, 1971), p. xxii. See also: Elisabeth Schneider, T. S. Eliot: The Pattern in the Carpet (Berkeley: U of California P, 1975), pp. 27-28, 31-32; Invisible Poet, p. 40; and n. 30 to "Ghostly Selves" (pp. 241-42) in Bush, T. S. Eliot, respectively. Tradition and Talent in "Prufrock" 33 its epigraph, important to modernist writers from Joyce to Akhmatova, is by Eliot's testimony more important to him than any other. And the affinity modernist English poets felt for the renaissance dramatic and lyric poetry he identified as models was partly his own doing.

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