University of Hertfordshire

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`Between the conception/and the creation': T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Thomas Day
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-44
Number of pages9
JournalEnglish
Volume57
Issue219
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Abstract

This article considers the relation between thought and feeling in Eliot's The Hollow Men (1925), in light of some of his prose pronouncements, and in the context of other of his poetic writings, particularly The Waste Land. Thought, as it inheres in the formal, philosophical and anti-dramatic textures of the poem, serves to stifle feeling and emotion, and with them the creative impulse itself, resulting in a work that is overly methodical, studiedly strictured, thought out but ill thought through. Furthermore, the poem seems emotionally clogged, numb as opposed to impersonal, the artistic surrender lacking in the necessary daring. But though the poetic presence—never quite a persona—cannot feel, let alone live by, the idea, there are hints that his unreadiness for thought, and the weaknesses this evinces, have their place along the way of dispossession, the via negativa—which further problematizes the ‘problem of belief’ that A.D. Moody dismisses

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