Eliot's Dark Angel: Intersections of Life and Art

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Overview

Schuchard's critical study draws upon previously unpublished and uncollected materials in showing how Eliot's personal voice works through the sordid, the bawdy, the blasphemous, and the horrific to create a unique moral world and the only theory of moral criticism in English literature. The book also erodes conventional attitudes toward Eliot's intellectual and spiritual development, showing how early and consistently his classical and religious sensibility manifests itself in his poetry and criticism. The book examines his reading, his teaching, his bawdy poems, and his life-long attraction to music halls and other modes of popular culture to show the complex relation between intellectual biography and art.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[The book] will be essential reading for professional scholars and critics writing about Eliot for some time to come....A treasure trove of information about Eliot's life and art....Empirical discoveries are rare indeed in literary criticism...Schuchard's discovery and publication of these documents revealed how much the young Eliot's famous critical pronouncements and poetic allusions owed to his routine class preparations....The definitive statement on Eliot's brief teaching career and its crucial relation to his development as a writer....Reconstructs Eliot's pop-cultural frame of reference in the 1910s and '20s. His love of the latest joke, the latest dance craze, and the latest outrage on middle-class sensibilities perpetrated by one visiting Continental avant-gardist or another enabled Eliot to tune his poetry to the zeitgeist, even as his private yearnings toward a medieval Christian faith tormented him."—Review

"A work of literary criticism that actually lives up to the puffs on the dust jacket: 'Beautifully written and exhaustively researched...it is essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in Eliot."—Virginia Quarterly Review

"What a book! Ronald Schuchard...has the audacity to write with uncompromising clarity, skill and grace....Congratulate him, for in Eliot's Dark Angel: Intersections of Life and Art Schuchard has produced the best critical work on T.S. Eliot I have read in over a decade, and certainly one of the top half dozen in the behemoth canon of critical sorties into Eliot terrain....It is a milestone in Eliot criticism."—Christianity and Literature

"The most unique aspect of this excellent work is Schuchard's inclusion of previously unpublished materials reflecting T.S. Eliot's teaching activity—particularly the valuable, detailed syllabi for several courses he taught towards the end of World War I...."—Choice

"[Schuchard] elucidates those moments in which he finds that the life presses with particular insistence upon the poems. The method is justified by the perceptions at which it arrives.... The fourth [chapter], one of the most original, argues that Eliot's comic sense, fortified by Baudelaire's 'On the Essence of Laughter,' expressed itself in a respect for farce, burlesque, caricature, and obscenity.... This superb essay leads to another just as good, a study of Eliot's feeling for the art of the music hall, Marie Lloyd and her peers, and the ballet of Diaghilev and Massine as inspirations toward a possible poetic theater.... The book ends...with a splendid analysis of St. John of the Cross, the English mystical writers, and—crucially—the centrality of George Herbert in Eliot's later poetry and criticism.... I recommend to your attention [Eliot's Dark Angel]."—Denis Donoghue, The Southern Review

"More than any study of Eliot I know, Schuchard's book helps us to understand the foundations of Eliot's conservatism in his intellectual and emotional development, in its pre-Christian and Christian formulations, and in the role of the personal in his work set against his impersonal theory of art."—George S. Lensing, American Literature

"It is hard to imagine anyone in the future reading 'Ash Wednesday' without Schuchard's chapter ready to hand. The same goes for the Sweeney quatrains,...to say nothing of the abortive play, Sweeney Agonistes."—T.S. Eliot Society Newsletter

"Ron Schuchard has been one of Eliot's most sensitive and perceptive critics over the past twenty-five years, so it was with eager anticipation that I picked up a volume gathering together much of that work. Eliot's Dark Angel does not disappoint. In this major collection, Schuchard lays out in exhaustive detail a comprehensive vision of modernism's most influential voice that is rooted in Eliot's life.... A virtual paradigm of the rich potentialities inherent in biographically oriented criticism, Eliot's Dark Angel goes a long way toward not only highlighting the intersections of life and art but helping reinvigorate the presence of the life in the art of this major modernist artist."—Richard Badenhausen, English Literature in Transition 1880-1920

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195104172
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Emory University
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Table of Contents

Abbreviations
Prelude: The Dark Angel 3
1 In the Lecture Halls 25
2 Hulme of Original Sin 52
3 "Our mad poetics to confute": Laforgue and the Personal Voice 70
4 The Savage Comedian 87
5 In the Music Halls 102
6 The Horrific Moment 119
7 First-Rate Blasphemy 131
8 "All Aboard for Natchez, Cairo and St. Louis": The Journey of the Exile in Ash-Wednesday 148
9 The Ignatian Interlude 162
10 "If I think, again, of this place": The Way to Little Gidding 175
App American Publishers and the Transmission of T. S. Eliot's Prose 198
Notes 217
Index 257
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