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Chapter 3 - The Artist as Clerk

Debt, Paperwork, and Liberal Order in T. S. Eliot

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 August 2019

Gabriel Hankins
Affiliation:
Clemson University, South Carolina
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Summary

“The Artist as Clerk” moves from the reinvention of national debt under John Maynard Keynes to examine the role of debt, literary and financial, in the high modernist work of T. S. Eliot. As a young bank clerk at Lloyds of London, Eliot’s assignment was to parse the German debts adjudicated by the Versailles Treaty’s terms. It briefly recalls the structural role of debt in the liberal crises of interwar Europe, then connects those crises to the unbearable material and poetic debts that burden Eliot’s poetic line. Debt work makes its way to the very heart of his major postwar poetry, in the arid indemnities of “Gerontion” and in the conjunction of clerk, desk, and typist at the heart of The Waste Land. In Eliot’s interwar essays we see a parallel confrontation with economic and political liberalism, an interest dramatized in the incomplete Coriolan sequence.

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Chapter
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Interwar Modernism and the Liberal World Order
Offices, Institutions, and Aesthetics after 1919
, pp. 79 - 106
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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  • The Artist as Clerk
  • Gabriel Hankins, Clemson University, South Carolina
  • Book: Interwar Modernism and the Liberal World Order
  • Online publication: 15 August 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108626323.004
Available formats
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  • The Artist as Clerk
  • Gabriel Hankins, Clemson University, South Carolina
  • Book: Interwar Modernism and the Liberal World Order
  • Online publication: 15 August 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108626323.004
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • The Artist as Clerk
  • Gabriel Hankins, Clemson University, South Carolina
  • Book: Interwar Modernism and the Liberal World Order
  • Online publication: 15 August 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108626323.004
Available formats
×