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A Review of T.s. Eliot’s “impersonal Theory of Poetry"

Nyamweya is a Kenyan scholar who has done many years of research on a diversity of topics

T.S. Eliot’s and his “Impersonal Theory of Poetry

T.S Elliot was among the notable critics of poetry during his time and even today. He arguably did not come up with any solid theory of poetry but his consciousness of poetry enabled him to think deeply and long about the poetic mysteries. His perspective of poetry is depicted on numerous commentaries, editorial contributions, reviews and essays all of which saw what he stood for when it comes to literary works. From his work, there is no doubt this author had much to say about poetry, poetic process and literary works,

Literature critic T.S Eliot expressed his sentiments regarding his impersonal theory of poetry clearly in a historic address, which define the parameters that qualify a classic. In the historically defining presidential address delivered in Virgil, Eliot argues and supports that for a literary work to be considered a true classic, the piece must display mature literature and language as well as civilization maturity (Mambrol, 2020). For instance, in his essay which he dubbed “What is a classic?” required that the author of a classic be of somebody of mature mind for acceptance as a classic. To quote the critic’s exact words “classic can occur only when a civilization is mature; when a language and a literature are mature, and it must be the work of a mature mind.” T.S Eliot also opined that the authorial intent did not apply to comprehending the literature work. Apart from disregarding the greatness of a particular author, Elliot also supported Wimsatt and Monroe by emphasizing the need to base a literary criticism on the text itself. In other words, what mattered were the words in a literary text rather than what the author was thinking about.

However, contrary to other theorists, he developed the idea that an author’s previous works should be used to analyze the value of a given work of art. This assumption, for instance, contradicts Monroe and Wimsatt articulation that the author’s work whether current or past are irrelevant in such analysis. Furthermore, Elliot also differed with Monroe and Winsatt by acknowledging Western tradition as part of poetry analysis, a continuum that goes back to Greek antiquity. According to this continuum, art does not improve, though the material of art can never remain the same. It should be remembered that Monroe and Winsatt refuted any attempt to import a texts meaning from outside the context, yet Elliot advocated for use of Western traditions as the basis for such an analysis. The reasoning behind this logic was his believe of poetry being a vessel through which culture is transmitted.

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