Contaminated Intentions: Tradition and the Individual Talent

  • Cameron MacKenzie
Part of the Pivotal Studies in the Global American Literary Imagination book series (PSGALI)


This chapter examines Eliot’s “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” demonstrating how Eliot formulated the role and behavior of what Badiou would term “mastery” in relation to the void. Concretizing Badiou’s notions as presented in “A Poetic Dialectic,” Eliot’s classic essay demonstrates the principles at play in Badiou’s thought, positing and dialectically emptying the notion of the masterful critic. In doing so, Eliot exposes the void of critical discourse, and then incorporates that void back into the discourse itself in order to sustain and further it. “Tradition and the Individual Talent” not only predicts Badiou, but offers a daring example of the key tenets that occupy his thought.


“Tradition and the Individual Talent” T.S. Eliot Irony Badiou Mastery 


  1. Eliot, T.S. “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism. London: Methuen and Co. Ltd., 1960.Google Scholar
  2. Habib, M.A.R. The Early T.S. Eliot and Western Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.Google Scholar
  3. Kenner, Hugh. The Pound Era. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971.Google Scholar
  4. Symons, Arthur. The Symbolist Movement in Literature by Arthur Symons. New York: EP Dutton and Co., 1919.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cameron MacKenzie
    • 1
  1. 1.Ferrum CollegeFerrumUSA

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