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Matthew and T S Eliot

  • Date Submitted: 12/17/2012 01:53 AM
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Matthew and T.S. Eliot
      Arnold and Eliot were the defining critics of their times. Both were compelled to poetry, and both effectively abandoned it for criticism (Marius Hentea the Silence of the Last Poet: Matthew Arnold, T. S. Eliot…PDF p.304).
      Firstly, Arnold propounds the famous theory of touchstone. Arnold's Touchstone Method of Criticism was really a comparative system of criticism.  He was basically a classicist and admired the ancient Greek, Roman and French authors as the models to be followed by the modern English authors.  The old English like Shakespeare, Spenser or Milton were also to be taken as models.  Arnold took selected passages from the modern authors and compared them with selected passages from the ancient authors and thus decided their merits.  This method was called Arnold's Touchstone Method.

                  However, this system of judgment has its own limitations.  The method of comparing passage with a passage is not a sufficient test for determining the value of a work as a whole.  Arnold himself insisted that we must judge a poem by the 'total impression' and not by its fragments.  But we can further extend this method of comparison from passages to the poems as whole units.  The comparative method is an invaluable aid to appreciation of any kind of art.  It is helpful not merely thus to compare the masterpiece and the lesser work, but the good with the not so good, the sincere with the not quite sincere, and so on. (Matthew Arnold's Touchstone Method of Criticism literarycriticismjohn.blogspot.com)

      T.S. Eliot shares the same idea in his critical essay ‘Tradition   and individual talent’ that   new work of art can not be evaluated in isolation without reference to past literature and tradition. Evaluation is always comparative and relative. It calls for a comparison with the past that is with tradition. The value of a work depends on how well it is adjusted into the order of existing literary works. No poet, no...


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