A Key to Modern British Poetry

By Lawrence Durrell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
SPACE TIME AND POETRY

With the twentieth century, Physics, like the other sciences, advanced into uncertainties. In the face of relativity, the quantum theory, and the electron, we were once more moving in 'worlds not realized'. If God were a mathematician, mathematicians should bring us back to God. . . .

We saw that modern man is tempted, almost compelled, to regulate this idea (Time) by the face of a clock and the pages of a calendar. This system is indispensable to an age of fixed hours and appointments, but cannot ever satisfy man's consciousness of what passes in his own head. It suggests or confirms the fiction that life is a sequence of continuous yet distinct moments, a perpetual birth of instantaneous impressions, whereas all artistic and imaginative experience insists that life as we perceive it is duration. For example the first note of fugue is still present when the last note is struck; the first scene in a well-constructed drama is as close to us as the episode on which the curtain descends. All life is fusion as well as flux . . . and Past combines with Present to form the outline of the Future. Some visionaries claim the power to relive their own antecedents and to be present at what is going to happen. These persuasions might be, and generally are, dismissed as wishful thinking, though the acceptance of eternity implies the acceptance that all facts are forever present; but now science was beginning to hint that Time takes place within us. . . . Thus the modern spirit of inquiry is leading us back towards ancient Oriental mysticism and medieval theology. . . .

H. V.ROUTH

English Literature and Ideas in the Twentieth Century

WE have not far to go with the history of Joyce Ulysses thought before we come to some new scientific ideas which have a direct bearing upon time, and which, I make bold to say, can be seen reflected in the new style of writing

-24-

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A Key to Modern British Poetry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vi
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter I The Limits of Criticism 1
  • Chapter 2- Space Time and Poetry 24
  • Chapter 3- The World Within 49
  • Chapter 4- Beyond the Ego? 72
  • Chapter 5- Poetry in the Nineties 91
  • Chapter 6- Georgians and Imagists 119
  • Chapter 7- T. S. Eliot 143
  • Chapter 9- New Signatures, New Voices 178
  • Notes 209
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