From the one to the many:
The essay on literature emphasized the importance of the differing views of reality, implicit and explicit, which may be involved in changes of literary forms. The principal concern of this essay is with philosophical ideas during the same period, and an assessment of their relative importance. However, those philosophical ideas which have significantly influenced literature, or for which parallels can be found in literature, are not necessarily the most important from a philosophical point of view. If Russell is arguably the most important philosopher of the period, his impact on literature would seem to be limited to that of providing material for a character in a novel by Lawrence and a poem by Eliot. 1 Whilst Bradley and McTaggart, though much less important figures in the history of philosophy, undeniably have influences on Eliot and Yeats respectively. There is the further problem that often discernible influences on literature are not by contemporary authors at all; a good example in point would be the influence of Nietzsche during our period. 2 So in order to keep a clear perspective this essay is written primarily from the point of view of a philosopher, attempting at the same time to pick out a number of specific connections with literature, and to provide footnotes for further reading. There remains the possibility of deep structural parallels between the literature and the philosophy of the period, and a brief attempt to consider what these might be is made in the final section.
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Publication information: Book title: The Context of English Literature, 1900-1930. Contributors: Michael Bell - Editor. Publisher: Holmes & Meier. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1980. Page number: Not available.
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