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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: March 2010

After Strange Gods: A Primer of Modern Heresy (1934)


R. P. Blackmur.

"The Dangers of


Hound and Horn 7

(1934), 719–26.

Mr. Cowley [in Exile's Return] and Mr. Eliot [in After Strange Gods] are looking—but neither together nor in the same direction—for a living standard of approach to literature. Neither, in the books before us, is primarily a literary critic—as indeed their subtitles attest; neither attacks his problem from within the field of literature as an art that finds autonomy in its practice, and neither fortifies himself in any logic of aesthetics. Each, rather, regards literature as it interprets life rightly or wrongly, with reference to a general, complete view of life as distinguished from the free, uncontrolled, merely literary view. Each deeply realizes that literature does not ever in fact—at least in the degree that it is serious—escape into thin air without first influencing the moral and spiritual life of its readers; and each therefore requires that literature assent, for its own salvation, or at least to secure its best possibilities, to a definite intellectual and spiritual discipline. Mr. Eliot asserts the discipline of Christian orthodoxy and provides examples of the evils that result from ignoring it. Mr. Cowley suggests a discipline that rises from an honest recognition of the class-struggle and all its implications in economic and political life; and he provides us with a comparative history of recent literary futility as it resulted from a distorted emphasis upon the individual.

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T. S. Eliot
  • Online ISBN: 9780511485466
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