2018. Issue 2 (41)

Yankovskaya G. A. At Home among Strangers, a Stranger at Home. Cultural conservatism of T.S. Eliot (.pdf)

 

The article considers changes in the political reputation of the outstanding modernist poet T.S. Eliot, whose socio-political ideas elude the one-dimensional characteristics. Attention is paid to Eliot's views on culture, which are traditionally attributed to the conservative political spectrum and give basis to blame him in anti-Semitism or even in pro-fascist mentality. The author argues that Eliot's political views have for the most part never been specially articulated and systematized into political concepts or manifesto. His support for the French conservative writer and activist Maurras was broadly in line with the strategy of the magazine “Criterion” edited by T.S. Eliot: it consisted in acquaintance of the public with the widest possible range of aesthetic phenomena and personalities of modern culture. The poet's views on the imperfection of human nature, the moral foundation of social and political action, the apologia of the European Christian culture correlated with the core of traditionalist cultural conservatism. The convergence of aesthetic modernism with right-wing and left-wing political radicalism is a key characteristic of the interwar period and can be traced in many cultural phenomena. However, the priorities of T.S. Eliot have not been associated with either socialist or fascist projects, in which the refined poet have seen the worst manifestation of the “uprising of the masses”. The mass popularity of his complicated texts in contemporary mass culture, show business and film industry represents a paradoxical turn in the public interpretation of his heritage. Nowadays, public perception of his rhetoric is becoming more balanced and sometimes his ideas are defined as supra-political. The crisis of traditional “big” parties and ideologies and the flowering of new forms of political activity give the possibility to find in T.S. Eliot's mistrust to Western political institutions capability to foresee trends in Western European culture and society.

 

Key words: Т.S. Eliot, cultural conservatism, supra-political, values of European culture, political reputation of a writer.

 

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