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T. S. Eliot, Part 1

Wyndham Lewis, Portrait of T. S. Eliot, 1938

5,352 words

Part 1 of 2

World War I brought to a climax a cultural crisis in Western Civilization that had been proceeding for centuries, when, in the Spenglerian sense, Money overwhelmed Tradition,[1] or, to resort even to Karl Marx, the bourgeoisie supplanted the aristocracy.[2] Industrialization accentuated the process of commercialization, with its concomitant urbanization and the disruption of organic bonds and social cohesion, which has thrown societies into a state of perpetual flux, with culture reflecting that condition.

This was–and is–a problem of the primacy of Capital. If Marxism is the most well-known supposed opponent of Capital, to which many of the literati turned, especially in the aftermath of the Great War, others who turned to the Right rejected capitalism not only on the basis of economics, but more importantly, in a transcendent sense, by rejecting the Zeitgeist of Capital of which Marxism was merely a reflection rather than an alternative. Among these was T. S. Eliot, one of the most influential luminaries of contemporary English literature.

Thomas Stearns “T. S.” Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on September 26, 1888. He attended Harvard University, Merton College, Oxford, and the Sorbonne. Like Ezra Pound, the New Zealand poets Rex Fairburn and Geoffrey Potocki de Montalk, and many others on the colonial peripheries of European civilization, Eliot sought out whatever was left of the cultural epicenter and settled to England in 1915, becoming a naturalized British subject in 1927. The question of Eliot’s settling in England and becoming a naturalized Briton strikes to the heart of the crisis of European culture, and of alienation. Peter Ackroyd–despite his conventional lack of insight in summating Eliot’s concern about advancing barbarism–does provide some rare insight on the cultural alienation that was being felt by Eliot and others:

To what territory or tradition did he belong is another question, and one in which he himself found it difficult to resolve: in a letter to Herbert Read he remarked how he . . . did not believe himself to be an American at all. He was a “resident alien”. . .

His sense of being an alien in America was by no mean unique, however. Ezra Pound used much the same terms to describe his own position in the United States–he was, he said, brought up in a place with which his forebears had no connection. But they were not simply aliens in one community or another; they were estranged from the country itself. They grew up in a time of great ethical and social confusion–the intercontinental railways were changing the shape of the country, just as the vast tide of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe was radically reforming the ideas of what an “American” was. This was a society which fostered no living or coherent tradition, a society being created by industrialists and bankers, and by the politics and the religion which ministers to them, for those who feel themselves to be set apart, and who have found in their reading of literature a sense of life and of values not available to them in their ordinary lives, there is a terrible emptiness at such a time . . . the consequence was that Pound and Eliot–and also near contemporaries . . . sought to create tradition of their own . . .[3]

Since then, the “cultural pessimism” that arose in the aftermath of World War I has shown itself to be realism, and the world has become “America” under the impress of what is overtly promoted as “globalization.” Money and standardization reign supreme. The Traditionalist has few recourses other than self-exile and isolation or seeking out like company in fringe movements. However, for Eliot and Pound, Europe still offered opportunities.

Taking employment as a schoolteacher and then with Lloyds Bank in The City, Eliot’s first published volume of verse was Prufrock in 1917. The Waste Land followed in 1922. He was by then an established literary figure: in 1922 he founded the small but influential literary journal The Criterion, and was appointed Director of Faber & Faber, the publishing house, a position which he retained throughout his life. In 1936, Collected Poems 1909–1935 was published.

As a playwright his works include Murder in the Cathedral (1935), The Family Reunion (1939), The Cocktail Party (1950), The Confidential Clerk (1954) and The Elder Statesman (1959). A book of verses for children, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, was published in 1939.

Eliot was also a renowned critic. A collection of his essays and reviews was published in 1920, entitled The Sacred Wood. Selected Essays appeared in 1932, The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism in 1933, What is a Classic? in 1945, On Poetry and Poets in 1957, Poetry and Drama in 1951, and The Three Voices of Poetry in 1953. In particular, Eliot’s social and political criticism is found in After Strange Gods (1934), based on a lecture to the University of Virginia in 1933; The Idea of a Christian Society (1939), and Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1948). These three essays are particularly cogent expressions of Eliot’s criticism of liberalism and commercialism and his apologia of Tradition.

In 1948, Eliot was awarded the Order of Merit and the Nobel Prize in Literature, followed by many honorary doctorates, honorary fellowships, and professorships in Britain and the United States. Although nothing deterred Eliot’s lifelong criticism of liberalism and defense of Tradition, and despite the continuing occasional quips about “anti-Semitism,” and “racism,” Eliot managed to avoid the opprobrium and persecution that was meted out to his friend Ezra Pound, while never compromising his views in a post-1945 world where democracy and egalitarianism had assumed idolatrous veneration.

Eliot’s turn to the Right was based on what has been called “cultural pessimism,” represented in particular by the historical doctrine of Oswald Spengler, which saw cultural decay as part of an all-encompassing cycle of decline of Western Civilization. Fritz Stern gave this the term “the politics of cultural despair” in his study on the intellectual and cultural critique of liberalism in Weimer Germany.[4] Eliot’s cultural pessimism and his quest for solutions was reflected in his personal crises, expressed in his early poems, in particular “The Hollow Men” and “The Waste Land.” The poet here then becomes a microcosm of the crisis of culture as a whole. Having considered Eliot’s personal ups and downs, Alastair Hamilton nonetheless accords Eliot the role of a “social commentator” of substance, who remained “reasonable” in his critique of “modern industrial society.”[5]

Social Credit: An Economic Solution to Cultural Problems

However, there was a practical solution that attracted Eliot, as it did in particular Ezra Pound: the new economic theory of Social Credit which provided a practical scheme for not only eliminating the social dislocations caused by an economic system that was–and is–founded on usury, but which had the advantage, from a Traditionalist and cultural viewpoint, of eliminating the prospect–which then seemed imminent–of a Bolshevik revolution, that was in intent on destroying all social order from which High Culture emerges, regardless of the fantasies of the Left-wing intelligentsia.

In particular, Social Credit provides the practical mechanism by which the Money Power, which Oswald Spengler stated rules in the Late epoch of a civilization, can be overthrown, and apparently without the Spenglerian recourse to bloodshed and the rise of a fascistic “Caesar” type figure.

While few of the Right-wing literati concerned themselves with such practical details and were aesthetic Rightists by and large, it is significant that the primary advocate of Social Credit next to Major C. H. Douglas, was A. R. Orage, the editor of The New English Review and The New Age, one of the most important promoters of new literary talent. Although Orage was a luminary of the Fabian socialist movement, he was not an orthodox socialist and advocated guild-socialism.

Orage was a focus for both innovative art and innovative economic and social theories, and a few of the poets saw the importance of Social Credit as the means of overthrowing materialism. In particular there was Ezra Pound, a lifelong enthusiast for the doctrine, who was also Eliot’s patron when the fellow-American arrived in London, and it was Pound who enabled Eliot to get published in both Britain and the USA, and who assisted Eliot stylistically.[6] Pound’s generosity was to be much later repaid by Eliot’s campaign for his mentor, when Pound was being accused of treason and pushed into a lunatic asylum.

The Jewish Presence

The presence of Jews in commerce and as a factor in undermining tradition did not go unnoticed in many quarters of both Left and Right during that time, including Social credit and artistic circles. Hilaire Belloc, the Catholic social theorist and author, wrote a book on the subject in which he considered Jews as collectively “an alien body within society.”[7] Ezra Pound got into much trouble eventually, and there continues to be much hand-wringing as to whether Eliot was an “anti-Semite” or, if he was, remained so.[8]

Eliot’s early poem, “Burbank with a Baedekker, Bleistein with a Cigar” (1919) examines the differences in mentality between two tourists in Venice, one tellingly named Bleistein, seeing nothing but commerce. Bleistein is characterized stereotypically:

But this or such was Bleistein’s way:
A saggy bending of the knees
And elbows, with the palms turned out,
Chicago Semite Viennese . . .
Declines. On the Rialto once.
The rats are underneath the piles.
The jew is underneath the lot.
Money in furs.
The boatman smiles.

The following year Eliot evokes the stereotypical Jewish landlord in “Gerontion”:

Here I am, an old man in a dry month,
Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain.
I was neither at the hot gates
Nor fought in the warm rain
Nor knee deep in the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass,
Bitten by flies, fought.
My house is a decayed house,
And the jew squats on the window sill, the owner,
Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp,
Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London.[9]

Again, a Jewish character is portrayed in less than flattering terms in “Sweeney Among the Nightingales”:

The silent vertebrate in brown
Contracts and concentrates, withdraws;
Rachel née Rabinovitch
Tears at the grapes with murderous paws . . .[10]

The common theme that emerges in the Jewish characters of Eliot’s verse is that of the, cosmopolitan, vulgar Jew who epitomized “new wealth” and bought his way into high society, but was preferably kept at arm’s length by England’s “old money,” who saw the wealthy Jews as having the thinnest veneer of cultivation. It is certainly why Eliot’s characterization would not have been greeted with the outrage that it met in post-war years.

Over a decade later Eliot again alludes to Jewish influence in his lecture at the University of Virginia, advising that tradition can only develop where the population is homogenous:

Where two or more cultures exist in the same place they are likely to be fiercely self-conscious or both to become adulterate. What is still more important is unity of religious background; and reasons of race and religion combine to make any large numbers of free-thinking Jews undesirable. There must be a proper balance between urban and rural, industrial and agricultural development. And a spirit of excessive tolerance is to be deprecated.[11]

This passage concisely expresses all of Eliot’s primary views on the matter of tradition, and is the antithesis of all that is signified by the word liberalism. Yet because there is a reference to Jews, and in particular, because it was published when Hitler had just assumed power, it becomes particularly problematic to those who admire Eliot’s work, like Pound’s, or Hamsun’s, but reach a crisis of morality when confronted with the writer’s illiberality.[12] Professor Sharpe for example refers to “some extremely unlovely passages to do with Jews and Jewishness in Eliot’s writing.”[13]

Sharpe and others have pointed out that Eliot did not allow After Strange Gods to be reprinted in later years; nonetheless Eliot’s illiberality remained unredeemed, as indicated by his comment in 1961 that he saw nothing he would change for the reprinting of Notes Towards the Definition of Culture.[14] The refusal to allow After Strange Gods to be republished seems to have been primarily because Eliot did not like the polemical style, and he regretted his criticism of Pound and D. H. Lawrence. The Catholic Herald asks why Eliot did not withdraw “Burbank with a Baedekker, Bleistein with a Cigar,” as he did After Strange Gods, if he had truly repented his previous convictions in the wake of the Holocaust:

After the war Eliot prudently withdrew this book from circulation and never re-published it. So why did he not withdraw the equally damning poem “Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar” from his Selected Poems, published in 1948 . . . ? It was still included in my own copy of his Collected Poems 1909–1962, published in 1963 and which I read that same year. Was it an oversight or did the magnitude of the Holocaust not impinge on Eliot’s consciousness?[15]

Why the Holocaust should be the criterion by which cultural critique is censored is yet, however, to be explained by any of these detractors other than in terms of a pervasive Western-wide moral repentance that is as stifling to honest analysis as Lysenko’s dogma was to Soviet biology.

“Classicist, Royalist, Anglo-Catholic”

Eliot was primarily a Christian and a royalist. In Social Credit he saw the economic aspect of the Anglo-Catholic via media, or middle path between socialism and capitalism.[16] His aim was revive religion as the foundation for a cultural, aesthetic outlook. A. S. Dale comments that Eliot “wanted to affect the reader as a whole human being, morally and aesthetically.”[17] This was not something that secular-humanist society, whether as capitalism or as socialism, was inclined to do.

While other aesthetes were choosing Communism or Fascism, shaping up as the two great antagonists for the control of the world, Eliot chose “Anglo-Catholicism.” It was nonetheless a position on the Right, albeit critical of Hitler and Mussolini, but rejecting the Leftism of Bloomsbury.

Hence, when the intelligentsia was all aflutter over the Spanish civil war in their near unanimous support for the Republican church burners and nun killers, in the interests of stopping Franco and Reaction, Eliot responded to a slanted survey circulated among the literati on the issue that he would remain neutral, itself a heresy in that milieu.[18]

Eliot, again unlike others of the literati who joined Left or Right, did not propose a particular governmental system, but did believe that Christians should present their opinions on a solid Christian basis, and form a community from which such ideals could emanate.[19] Hence, when Eliot published Essays Ancient and Modern and Collected Poems 1909–1935, he drew criticism for attempting to establish a “Christian poetics” or discuss a “Christian polity.”[20]

Eliot had converted to the Anglo-Catholic branch of the Church of England in 1927, and he remained an ardent worshiper until his death in 1966. His faith was the crucial element in his thinking and creativity. The most succinct self-description of his outlook was that of a “classicist in literature, royalist in politics, and Anglo-Catholic in religion.”[21]

It was an echo of the statement made in 1913 by the seminal French Rightist and Academician, Charles Maurras, leader of the militant Action Française, describing his “counter-revolutionary” beliefs as “classique, catholique, monarchique,”[22] that is to say, the antithesis of the Jacobin foundations of the French Republic. Indeed, Eliot was to state that “most of the concepts which might have attracted me in Fascism I seem already to have found, in a more digestible form, in the work of Charles Maurras. I say in a more digestible form, because I think they have a closer applicability in England than those of Fascism.”[23]

Because Fascism treated monarchy as “a convenience,” it was unacceptable to Eliot, but was nonetheless preferable to Communism. His preference was for “the powerful king and the able minister,” rather than the Fascist formula of “a powerful dictator and a nominal king.” Although Maurras was accused of being a Fascist and was to be tried as a collaborator after World War II,[24] he advocated Tradition, not Fascism, and was of much interest to Eliot as a leading classicist and intellectual and cultural exponent of the Right believing, like Eliot, that monarchy and aristocracy would protect the humble from the “ambitious politician.”[25]

Eliot’s interest in Anglo-Catholicism was already inspired by his first visit to England in 1911, when he enthused about visiting Westminster Abbey and other great Churches in London. Looking at the architecture of these great churches and Cathedrals of England, Eliot saw the living embodiment of a past High Culture epitomized by the architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Sir Christopher Wren, a royalist commissioned by Charles II to rebuild fifty-one churches after the great fire of 1666.[26] Here was the nexus of the pivotal elements of enduring culture: Monarchy and Faith, under which culture flourished in ways impossible under liberalism and equality.

Eliot, as an employee in The City, could not but contrast the churches that had been built by Wren in grand classical style, and in the tradition of the High Church, with the “hideous banks and commercial houses, the churches being the only redeeming quality of some vulgar street,” writing at a time when there was a proposal to demolish nineteen of the churches.[27]

The proposal for the demolition of “redundant” churches in The City can readily be seen to have symbolized the dichotomy of the modern world: the functionalism of commerce destroying the vestiges of High Culture. In 1926, a year before Eliot’s official conversion, he and literary scholar Bonamy Dobrée led a hymn-chanting protest through the streets of The City, which succeeded in saving the churches.[28]

However, Eliot believed in traditions that were locally rooted. This is why he opted to become an Anglo-Catholic, rather than a Roman Catholic, which he would certainly have converted to had he decided on France instead of Britain as his residence. Becoming a British citizen and converting to the Church of England were part of the same process, as the religious tradition of a nation was the central ingredient of a national culture. However, churches were degraded by nationalism, and Eliot eschewed the concept of the Church of England as a “national Church.” Rather, it is nationalism that should be predicated on faith, rather than faith serve as a tool of nationalism.[29] The Church of England was a national Church but should be “the Catholic Church in England.”[30] Anglo-Catholicism is that body within Anglicanism that maintains the Church of England is a branch of Catholicism rather than Protestantism.

Classicism and Romanticism

English classicism founded by T. E. Hulme was the other primary element in Eliot’s doctrine. It was an aesthetic outlook that also had a major influence on Eliot’s friends Ezra Pound, and Wyndham Lewis. [31]

However, although Eliot imbibed the classicism of Maurras and Hulme in France and Britain respectively, he had already become a classicist under the tutelage of Irving Babbitt at Harvard, who taught a course on “Literary criticism in France.” His was a non-conformist rejection of egalitarianism and industrialism, and a call for “standards” and “discipline”[32] against the orthodox American standard of economic “success” as the measure of all things.

Hence, when Eliot arrived in England he had already become a classicist and had rejected the triumphant doctrines of “progress,” “liberty,” and “equality.” Eliot taught classicism contra romanticism in 1916 at Oxford University as an extension course of six lectures on modern French literature. The courses included a study of Rousseau’s Social Contract and of the French classicist Maurras.[33] Rousseau as the representative of romanticism was described by Eliot as a struggle against “authority in matters of religion, aristocracy and privilege in government.” His main doctrinal tendencies were “exaltation of the personal and individual above the typical, emphasis upon feeling rather than thought, humanitarianism: belief in the fundamental goodness of human nature, deprecation of form in art, and glorification of spontaneity.” “His great faults were intense egotism,” and “insincerity.” Eliot wrote in the description of his course:

Romanticism stands for excess in any direction. It splits up into two directions: escape from the world of fact, and devotion to brute fact. The two great currents of the nineteenth century–vague emotionality and the apotheosis of science (realism) alike spring from Rousseau.[34]

From Eliot’s cogent description of the two common but antithetical tendencies springing from Romanticism, we might understand how the French Revolution, proclaimed in the name of “Reason” assumed the most irrational forms, erecting substitute religions to the “Goddess of Reason” and to the “supreme Being,” complete with hymns, liturgy, and holy days in the name of the Revolution.

“The Reaction Against Romanticism,” started at the beginning of the twentieth century in “a return to the ideals of classicism.” Eliot explained the principles of classicism as “form and restraint in art, discipline and authority in religion, centralization in government (either as socialism or a monarchy). The classicist point of view has been defined as essentially a belief in Original Sin–the necessity of austere discipline.”

Classicism obviously lends itself to doctrines of the Right, and Eliot avers to this when stating “a classicist in art and literature will be therefore likely to adhere to a monarchical form of government, and to the Catholic Church.”

As for the reference to “socialism” being a manifestation of classicism along with monarchism, what Eliot meant can be discerned from his allusion to “syndicalism, more radical than nineteenth century socialism.” This and monarchism “express revolt against the same state of affairs, and consequently tend to meet.”

A classicist socialism had been emerging in France from the late 19thcentury, rejecting the Romanticist origins of the bourgeois Left and the Republic. Elements of the Right around Maurras, and of the Left, represented by the syndicalist Georges Sorel, were synthesizing a doctrine that included royalism and eschewed the old materialist interpretations of socialism. Eliot recognized the development of this movement, referring to “Neo-Catholicism” in France as a “partly political movement associated with monarchism, and partly a reaction against the sceptical scientific view of the nineteenth century. It is strongly marked in socialistic writers as well. It must not be confused with modernism, which is a purely intellectual movement.”[35]

Lecture IV dealt with “Royalism and Socialism,” where Eliot, explaining the emerging synthesis, stated that “contemporary socialism has much in common with royalism.” Amongst those studied were Maurras and Sorel, the latter representing a “more violent reaction against bourgeois socialism.”[36]

This developed into Fascism, especially from among the most militant adherents of Action Française, who were impatient with old methods.[37] However, Eliot as an Anglo-Catholic seeking the via media was to consider Social Credit as a sufficient mechanism for social change without recourse to the Fascism that Ezra Pound mixed with Social Credit.

Tradition and Culture

Eliot’s primary focus was not political but metapolitical. He explained this after the Second World War in his lectures on the unity of European culture, which will be examined below. His writing, his contribution to the corpus of great European Literature, was his statement of rebellion against cultural pathology. He was writing consciously as a member of the European cultural stream:

The historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order.[38]

One sees the contrast with the Romanticist who is rootless, an individualist of his moment, where nothing other than the Ego is of relevance, and there is no criterion upon which to determine what is “art” and what is junk: cultural nihilism, marketable because there is an audience that is itself rootless.

The artist, then, is part of a tradition, unless art becomes detached and thereby debased, as it now generally is, based on market values and the discernment of art critics who are themselves detached from any tradition. For Eliot and most[39] of the other artists who turned to the Right a flourishing culture meant not flux and continual “innovation” and “experimentation,” which is now lauded as the epitome of artistic “free expression,” but order, duration, and a connection with the past, present, and future. Neither did it mean, however, as Eliot pointed out, stasis and the copying of previous works. Again, it is the principle of via media. Of the importance of tradition to the artist Eliot wrote:

No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead. I mean this as a principle of æsthetic, not merely historical, criticism. The necessity that he shall conform, that he shall cohere, is not one-sided; what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it. The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them. The existing order is complete before the new work arrives; for order to persist after the supervention of novelty, the whole existing order must be, if ever so slightly, altered; and so the relations, proportions, values of each work of art toward the whole are readjusted; and this is conformity between the old and the new. Whoever has approved this idea of order, of the form of European, of English literature, will not find it preposterous that the past should be altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past. And the poet who is aware of this will be aware of great difficulties and responsibilities.[40]

Tradition thereby establishes a criterion of what “art” is, which is a far cry from today when we are continually reminded that “art” is anything that “challenges,” provokes a “reaction,” or has a “message.” Eliot wrote of this artistic criterion:

In a peculiar sense he will be aware also that he must inevitably be judged by the standards of the past. I say judged, not amputated, by them; not judged to be as good as, or worse or better than, the dead; and certainly not judged by the canons of dead critics. It is a judgment, a comparison, in which two things are measured by each other. To conform merely would be for the new work not really to conform at all; it would not be new, and would therefore not be a work of art. And we do not quite say that the new is more valuable because it fits in; but its fitting in is a test of its value—a test, it is true, which can only be slowly and cautiously applied, for we are none of us infallible judges of conformity. We say: it appears to conform, and is perhaps individual, or it appears individual, and may conform; but we are hardly likely to find that it is one and not the other.[41]

In 1925, Eliot wrote “The Hollow Men,” which describes the state of what can be called Modern Man, who has no attachment, no place in a living tradition. It was written at a time when Eliot had a breakdown. In her essay and analysis of the poem Heather Van Aelst cogently writes of this:

“The Hollow Men” is essentially a poem of emptiness, Eliot’s exploration of the state of his own soul as one of many modern souls suffering the same affliction. It is an emptiness caused by the condition of the modern world, a modern world in which men live only for themselves, failing to choose between good and evil. The souls in the poem whose condition we are supposed to be horrified by are not those who have sinned the most, but those who have not chosen whether or not to sin. They exist in a state in-between, a state in which their failure to make a decision causes an utter lack of hope and joy or pain. The heroes of this poem are those who clearly see this state and recognize its true horror.[42]

It expresses a cultural malady that was of concern to those such as Eliot, Yeats, Campbell, Pound, et al. who sought a way out of the quagmire, making their art their protest, while simultaneously contributing significantly to a cultural Tradition that bypasses the culture of the market place.

“The Hollow Men” could as well apply to Modern Man as a new species, represented by the majority of all classes and stations of life:

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw.
Alas! Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass

There is not even drama in the death of the Western civilization, no last hurrah as in Spengler’s scenario where a resurgence of Tradition led by modern “Caesars” overcomes Money, or as in ancient days, where a vigorous barbarian tribe overwhelms the dominant civilization that has become senile. For our own civilization the Question is posed by Eliot as to its ending:

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.


[1] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of The West, trans. Charles Francis Atkinson (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1971), Vol. 2, p. 506.

[2] K. Marx and F. Engels, The Communist Manifesto (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975), p. 57. K. R. Bolton, “Reading Marx Right: A Reactionary Interpretation of the Communist Manifesto,” unpublished MS.

[3] P. Ackroyd, T. S. Eliot (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1984), pp. 24–25.

[4] F. Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology (New York: Anchor Books, 1965).

[5] A. Hamilton, The Appeal of Fascism: A Study of Intellectuals & Fascism (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1971).

[6] T. Sharpe, T. S. Eliot: A Literary Life (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), p. 46.

[7] H. Belloc, The Jews (London: Butler & Tanner, 1937).

[8] A. D. Moody, Thomas Stearns Eliot: Poet (London: Cambridge University Press, 1980), pp. 370–71.

[9] T. S. Eliot, Poems (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1920), “Gerontion.”

[10] Eliot, Poems, “Sweeney Among the Nightingales.”

[11] T. S. Eliot, After Strange Gods: A Primer of Modern Heresy (London: Faber and Faber, 1934), pp. 19–20. The full text can be read at:

[12] A. D. Moody, ibid.

[13] T. Sharpe, p. 171.

[14] T. S. Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, “Preface to the 1962 Edition,” p. 7.

[15] F. Philips, “The Poet Who Confronted T. S. Eliot Over his Anti-Semitism,”, October 3, 2011,

[16] A. S. Dale, T. S. Eliot: The Philosopher Poet (Lincoln, Nebraska: iUniverse, 2004), p. 131.

[17] Dale, p. 129.

[18] Dale, p. 129.

[19] Dale, p. 132.

[20] Dale, p. 132.

[21] T. S. Eliot, For Lancelot Andrewes, 1928, “Preface.”

[22] C. Maurras, Nouvelle Revue Française, March 1913, cited by B. Spurr, Anglo-Catholic in Religion: T. S. Eliot and Christianity (Cambridge, U.K.: The Lutterworth Press, 2010), p. vii.

[23] T. S. Eliot, The Criterion, December 1928, p. 289, quoted by Alastair Hamilton, p. 275.

[24] Maurras, like many French Rightists, was anti-German, but a prominent supporter of the Vichy regime of Marshall Petain. Maurras opposed collaboration with the German occupation but also opposed the Allies and regarded the Resistance as banditry. In 1945 Maurras was sentenced to life imprisonment and died in 1952.

[25] T. S. Eliot, “Mr. Barnes and Mr. Rowes,” The Criterion, July 1929.

[26] B. Spurr, Anglo-Catholic in Religion, p. 35.

[27] Spurr, p. 36.

[28] Spurr, p. 40.

[29] Spurr, p. 44.

[30] Spurr, p. 44.

[31] See my chapter on Wyndham Lewis in Artists of the Right: Resisting Decadence, ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).

[32] P. Ackroyd, pp. 35–36.

[33] T. S. Eliot, “Syllabus of a Course of Six Lectures on modern French Literature by T Stearns Eliot,” Oxford Extension Lectures, Oxford University, 1916.

[34] Eliot, “Syllabus.”

[35] Eliot, “Syllabus.”

[36] Eliot, “Syllabus.”

[37] Z. Sternhell, Neither Left Nor Right: Fascist Ideology in France (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1996).

[38] T. S. Eliot, The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry & Criticism (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1921), “Tradition the Individual Talent,” I: 3.

[39] The Italian Futurists were an exception.

[40] Eliot, “Tradition the Individual Talent,” I: 4.

[41] Eliot, ibid., I: 5.

[42] Heather Van Aelst “Conclusions,”


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  1. rhondda
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Thank you Dr. Bolton. I feel as if I am in a university lecture hall and just heard one of the best lectures of the day.

  2. Posted September 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Michael and Greg for this teaser. I can’t wait for Artists of the Right. Even in this partial chapter Bolton has created a moving portrait of the artist, art, and “the will to decision” amongst those of us fighting “cultural pathology”.

    How much money is CC lacking toward a publication date?

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted September 25, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Mark, this essay is not from Artists of the Right, but from a companion volume we will publish some time next year.

      We have the money to send Artists of the Right to the printers, and we will do it this week. I am spending the rest of today, actually, finishing a final run through the proofs, then we will upload it to the printers.

  3. Sandy
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Our civilization may indeed end with a whimper as Eliot suggested but at the very least the man understood the Seventh Commandment.

    Where two or more cultures exist in the same place they are likely to be fiercely self-conscious or both to become adulterate. What is still more important is unity of religious background; and reasons of race and religion combine to make any large numbers of free-thinking Jews undesirable. There must be a proper balance between urban and rural, industrial and agricultural development. And a spirit of excessive tolerance is to be deprecated.[11]

  4. Anonymous1
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    I accept proclamations of TS Eliot being a great poet and one of the most sensitive observers of Western culture of the early twentieth century despite finding his poetry jarring and obscure. Reading that he favored some sort of neo-feudalism and re-Catholicizing Europe as the route to the salvation of our civilization and people makes me suspect that he was living in a fantasy world completely divorced from reality. So many of our intellectuals are such disappointments. I appreciate GJ’s efforts to bring these figures to our attention, but it seems the light by which we could find our way out was already dim then and now nearly extinguished.

  5. Posted September 28, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Just to say that on the Miscellany page of our website, you will find a brief newsreel clip of Wyndham Lewis defending his portrait after it was rejected by the Royal Academy!

    The TS Eliot Society UK

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