An objective chemistry: what T. S. Eliot borrowed from Schopenhauer

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Abstract

“Tradition and the Individual Talent” (1919) is T. S. Eliot's expression of his poetics of impersonality, a spirited rejection of romantic subjectivism and emotionalism. But could Eliot's modernist essay be derived in part from what he presents as the unremittingly “emotional” philosophy of Schopenhauer? Section 51 of Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation I (1818) presents a metaphor resoundingly familiar to modern readers: the chemistry of verse-writing. A closer examination of “Tradition” and “Hamlet and his Problems” (1919) betrays Schopenhauer's unacknowledged role in Eliot's dictums of impersonal emotion and the “objective correlative.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-537
Number of pages11
JournalPhilosophy and Literature
Volume39
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2016 The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in Philosophy and Literature, Volume 39, Issue 2, October, 2015, pages 527-537.

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