The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

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Author QuotedT.S. Eliot
Title QuotedOn Poetry and Poets
Date (Year/Month/Day)1966/11/12
Imprint[S.l.] : [s.n.]. 1957I
QuotationEliot's essay "What Is a Classic?" is short, brilliant and absurd. His definition of a Classic is solidly useful, and then he proceeds to make its use impossible except for a few choice spirits - Virgil, Dante, Racine and for no one in English. Perpetual somersaults of logic in order to make sure that this title must be denied Milton precisely because he is such a genius, but also because he does not completely exhaust the possibilities of language - etc. This is apparently one of the great problems of literary criticism: one can formulate splendid principles - and their use is always contestable unless it is so restrained that it is hardly a use at all. Here more than anywhere else one always has the sense that the opposite to what is said can be convincingly asserted.
Quotation SourceLearning to love: exploring solitude and freedom. The Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume 6, 1966-1967.; Edited by Christine M. Bochen. / [San Francisco] : HarperCollins. 1997, p. 159
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