The Metaphysical Passion: Seven Modern American Poets and the Seventeenth-Century Tradition

By Sona Raiziss | Go to book overview

9 PHASES OF THE MODERN CRISIS

INCIPIENT BEFORE the First World War, political disorder was widely augmented in the twenties and thirties; and the conviction became general that the previous generation had failed to establish a more secure and civilized society. "The absorption of certain of the young modern poets with politics may be considered in two ways: as a reaction from the Georgian decline, and as an indication of the social unrest" which existed in Europe at this time.1 While under his technical influence, these poets condemned Eliot for lack of participation in the political struggle. Yet historically he has not been altogether isolated from socio- political issues.

Here Hulme, his ideological progenitor, had a particular concern with the problems of class and party stressed by Georges Sorel, some of whose work he translated into English. Hulme desired the establishment of such political thinking as might promote a return to classicism in literature and the other arts, his prime interests. The connection between literary classicism and socialism appears in Sorel's exposition of the class struggle. Sorel,

the most remarkable socialist since Marx . . . expects a return of the classical spirit through the struggle of the classes. . . . Given the classical attitude, he tries to prove that its present manifestation may be hoped for in working-class violence. . . . There are many who begin to be disillusioned with liberal and pacifist democracy, while shrinking from the opposed ideology on account of its reactionary associations. To these people Sorel, a revolutionary in economics, but classical in ethics, may prove an emancipator.2

Hulme also believed that ethical concepts are absolutes, and

-133-

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The Metaphysical Passion: Seven Modern American Poets and the Seventeenth-Century Tradition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Part One The Temper Of Metaphysical Poetry 1
  • 1- Definitions 3
  • 2- The Poets and Their Subjects 11
  • 3- Methods, Manner, and Mood 21
  • 4- Wit and the Objective Equivalent 35
  • Part Two Sources of The Metaphysical Impulse 57
  • 5- Time of Transition 59
  • 6- Seventeenth-Century Conflicts 79
  • 7- Analogies 103
  • 8- Twentieth-Century Tensions 114
  • 9- Phases of the Modern Crisis 133
  • Part Three Seven Poets: Text and Context 165
  • 10- T. S. Eliot 167
  • 11- The Fugitives 184
  • 12- Macleish-Wylie-Crane 212
  • Notes 242
  • Partial Bibliography Of Critical Works from 1900 293
  • Index of Names 319
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