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Shvoong Home>Books>Tradition and Individual Talent Review

Tradition and Individual Talent

Book Review   by:ProfRajanikantJain     Original Author: T. S. Eliot
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Eliot''s Concept of Poetry and the importance he lays on tradition, with reference to his essay "Tradition and Individual Talent"

In 1919 T. S. Eliot wrote the world famous essay ‘Tradition and Individual Talent’, a very potent essay pregnant with many concepts, among them poetry and tradition being the major one. His concept of poetry was primarily an attack on the romantic concept of poetry especially Eliot attacked Wordsworth’s famous concept “Poetry is spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotions recollected in tranquillity”. Eliot was completely against this romantic concept of poetry because for him poetry is not recollection of feeling but poetry is a new thing resulting from the concentration of a very great number of experiences and for Eliot this concentration does not happen consciously or deliberately. For Eliot “poetry is not a turning loose of emotions, but an escape from emotions, it is not the expression of the personality but an escape from personality. For romantics poetry was expression of personality of the poet but Eliot believed that the personal experiences important for a man may not have any place in his poems. He firmly believed that the personal life and personal emotions however important may not be important for the poet, as a poet. For Eliot what matters is emotions transmuted in the poem feelings expressed in the poetry. For Eliot the emotion of art is impersonal and dispassionate and the artist can achieve this impersonality only by cultivating the historical sense and by being conscious of the traditions. For Eliot the poet must merge his personality with tradition, in this essay he says that “the progress of the artist is the continual self sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality”. For Eliot mind of a poet is a medium in which experiences can enter into new combinations that is why he says that poet is a catalyst and poet’s mind is a ‘receptacle’ which holds numberless feelings images, phrases and emotions.
The combination of that in a particular form is art or poetry. Thus, the poetic process is a process of depersonalization, impersonalization or extinction of personality not what the romantics’ propagated expression of personality. For Eliot, tradition is one of the main concept and necessity for the poet or artist to be a creator. Tradition for Eliot means an awareness of the history of Europe, not as a dead facts and dates but as “as an ever changing yet changeless presence.” The constantly interacting subconscious element of the point. The poet must not forget the ‘mind of Europe’, he is not only a mind but a part of greater continent. Eliot’s idea of tradition can be understood on two levels, first, the simple meaning of poetic tradition in which the socio-political and historical presence of poetry in the oral and written forms of poetry is included. Second, tradition for him as a non-poetic element in which the social and economical formulations affect the ideological frame work in which it takes place. For Eliot, tradition includes culture, history and literature, religion, polity and morality are also included, he firmly believed that tradition is more larger and expansive than culture. To conclude, this essay pioneers the new understandings of poetry, talent, tradition and even criticism. This essay heralded ‘The New Criticism’, The Chicago School of Criticism’, and ‘The Practical Criticism’. At the base of The Modern aesthetic and critical practises is Eliot’s concept of poetry and tradition in this essay ‘Tradition and Individual Talent’.
Published: March 03, 2008   
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  1. Answer   Question  :    HOW FOR ELIOT POETRY IS NOT SPONTANEOUS OVERFLOW OF POWERFUL FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS View All
  1. Answer   Question  :    t.s.eliot as a critic View All
  1. Answer   Question  :    how can a literary person be traditional and be treated as individual telent ( 1 Answer ) View All
  1. Answer  :    A literary person can be traditional if in the most individual parts of his works the dead poets, the ancestors, assert their immortality vigorously.If also there is simultaneous order and historical timelassness- a fusion of present and the past. A writer has this burden on the shoulder to allign his work to the tradition.Talent is acquired only through vast reading.The talent and the knowledge that literary person acquired is the knowledge which leads to the greater understanding of the world Monday, February 14, 2011
  1. Answer   Question  :    what does eliot meant by tradition and individual talent ( 1 Answer ) View All
  1. Answer  :    According to Eliot, tradition means much wider significance. He says, one must obtain historical sense. Tradition can be obtained after great labour. To acquire historical sense, a perception of objects in different conotation is neccessary. For instance, if somebody wants to develop skill in poetry, he has to learn more and more things, surrounding him. In short, observation even to the minute details of the circumstances needed. One can't say he is the creator of the certain things. Monday, October 11, 2010
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