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Jules van Schaijik

A personalist view of literature

Oct. 19, 2012, at 11:50am

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post questioning T.S. Eliot's "impersonal theory of poetry", according to which a good poem should contain "no trace" of the subjectivity and individuality of the poet who wrote it. Thanks to a reader, I have since found an essay by John Henry Newman that confirms and improves my thinking. "Literature," Newman writes,

… is essentially a personal work, it is … the expression of that one person's ideas and feelings, — ideas and feelings personal to himself, though others may have parallel and similar ones, — proper to himself in the same sense as his voice, his air, his countenance, his carriage, and his action, are personal. In other words, Literature expresses,

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Jules van Schaijik

Escape from personality

Oct. 2, 2012, at 7:35pm

In a book I have been reading on (John Henry) Newman and his Contemporaries, I came across the following thought-provoking quote by T.S. Eliot:

Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.

The quote is open to several interpretations. In the book on Newman, it is meant to corroborate John Keble's beautiful idea, that poetry is

a kind of medicine divinely bestowed upon man, which gives healing relief to mental emotion, yet without detriment to modest reserve, and while giving

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