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Old Possum Ain't Dead

When T. S. Eliot gave a lecture on “The Frontiers of Criticism” on April 30, 1956, in the Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota—the largest basketball arena in America at the time—­nearly fourteen thousand people showed up. A front-page column for the Minneapolis . . . . Continue Reading »


The only excuse I can imagine for David P. Goldman’s taking up the shopworn claim that T. S. Eliot was an anti-Semite (“T. S. Eliot and the Jews,” March) is that, having been repeated so many times before, it might as well be repeated again as one of the unexamined prejudices of our culture. . . . . Continue Reading »

T. S. Eliot and the Jews

There recur in the work of ­T. S. Eliot two obsessions that make one cringe: his Jew-­hatred and his contempt for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The first is sometimes excused as a reflection of ambient prejudice, the second as critical crankiness. In fact, these obsessions have a common source. The . . . . Continue Reading »

An Affair of Things

Christianity is an affair of things. The things we see and touch and smell are bearers of the living Christ over time. As inspiring and edifying as the works of great artists are—Caravaggio’s The Calling of St. ­Matthew in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, . . . . Continue Reading »

Cutting Down Chrysanthemums

“What we call the beginning is often the endAnd to make an end is to make a beginning.The end is where we start from.”              —T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets (“Little Gidding”) The end is where we start from. This last choreOf Autumn must be . . . . Continue Reading »

An Irish Dante

The Five Quintets by micheal o’siadhail baylor, 381 pages, $34.95 Sartre famously wrote that “hell is other people,” but for the poet Micheal O’Siadhail, hell is a highly specific group of other people. Among the damned are Franz Kafka, Karl Marx, and—you guessed it—a certain . . . . Continue Reading »

T. S. Eliot, Populist

What defines the essence of populism? What is it for, and what is it against? T. S. Eliot had some insights into this question nearly one hundred years ago. In Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, Eliot drew a fruitful distinction between the upper class and the elite. Class . . . . Continue Reading »

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