THE EMINENTLY OBSCURE:
"Now we see through a glass, darkly."--I Corinthians
One of the most hotly debated issues in modern literature is: Is obscurity in literature justified, and if so to what degree short of blithering madness, and what is obscure anyway? This discussion has waxed and waned in intensity for a century or more, because for at least that long some of the world's greatest writers have chosen to wrap themselves and their works in a mantle of obscurity, obscurity of thought and of expression.
Browning wrote poems which he admitted only God could understand. Today T. S. Eliot writes poetry which blazes with the authentic fire of a great talent, but which few people in the world can claim to understand completely. George Meredith through most of his career and Henry James in the latter part of his wrote novels so festooned with labyrinthine coils of self-conscious rhetoric that they present formidable obstacles to their readers, but obstacles which are eminently worth surmounting.
This tendency has received additional impetus in recent years from several sources. One source is the new fields of knowledge