Knowing Reality: A Reading of Four Quartets
There is an uneasy current of opinion about Four Quartets, suggesting that they are dogmatic, and consequently Christian readers are drawn to them, but secular humanists are not. ‘There can be little doubt — simply as a matter of fact, whether it ought to be so or not — that the radical difficulty is doctrinal’,1 says Graham Hough with an embracing confidence that might carry our assent, were it not that such rhetorical gestures commonly provoke the anxiety they would allay. The world ‘little’ already suggests Hough’s uneasiness; ‘radical’ then follows to qualify the statement further (but what might it mean, here?) Hough almost says, ‘There is no doubt that the difficulty is doctrinal’, but, astutely enough, he fudges. And so it is with a good deal of criticism of Four Quartets, which (as often with secondary literature) takes on a colouration of the original. As Hugh Kenner says, the poem creates an impression of being ‘innocently transparent’2 — plain and straightforward, that is — but keeps falling away into obscurity and enigma.
KeywordsDust Manifold Assimilation Ghost Lost
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- 2.Hugh Kenner, The Invisible Poet: T. S. Eliot ( London: W. H. Allen, 1960 ) 249.Google Scholar
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