It is a critical commonplace to observe that Eliot created the taste by which he is now enjoyed. Inevitably, in his essays and lectures Eliot is to be found making critical judgements about literature which are naturally bound up with his own practice of poetry. In addressing himself to other writers and literary works, Eliot naturally brought into being a climate of opinion which could respond sympathetically to his own poetry. Eliot did not set out to become a central figure in English culture: that he did so testifies to the persuasiveness of his critical insights. In 1956 he delivered a lecture in America attended by an audience of over 13 000: that is the measure of the importance that came to be attached to him not only by his own generation but by younger readers.
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