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Comparison Between Virginia Woolf And T.S Eliot Essay, Research Paper

Their respective essays Tradition And The Individual Talent and Modern Fiction serve only to underline the tremendous difference in the views of Eliot and Woolf with regard to literary tradition and the role of the artist. Eliot sees it as being incumbent upon the artist to, not just be aware, but to have studied the whole historical tradition of poetry. In his development of this theme there maybe seen to be links in his basic philosophy and that of the Romantics insofar as he sees the poet as a vessel or channel through which, to put it cruisely, inspiration passes. If there is to be any element of continuity, which of earlier writing, the more effective his improduct and more closely linked to the tradition. Eliot goes on to claim the necessity of a tradition in literary criticism aswell, No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead. I mean this as a principle of aesthetic, not merely historical, criticism. He goes on to analogise the poetic process to the scientific experiment. Whilst it is tempting to see this as a negation of the creative process. Eliot s later remarks lead us irresistibly to think in terms of the earlier alchemists and their somewhat romantic mystical aura rather than some cold clinical experiment. This attitude again presupposes the poet in the role of a catalyst.

Woolf s ideas in Modern Fiction are the antithesis of those of Eliot. She begins by suggesting, it is difficult not to take it for granted that the modern practice of the art is somehow an improvement upon the old. Perhaps more significant is the analogical language that she uses, linking the creative literary process to that of making motor cars. It may be argued that this is a less happy comparison than that made by Eliot. One is tempted then to view the artistic process as some kind of mechanical bolting together of a succession of parts that lack the mysticism inherent in

Eliot s suggestion. It may be argued that Woolf s essay is less incisive of that of Eliot s for she then moves on to claim that the fight was not so fierce for earlier writers than for herself and her contemporaries. From this she then moves into an attack on Wells, Bennett particularly criticizing his characters and Galsworthy, as she called them materialistic. She finds realism dull that s why. Although, she does contradict her own views because she does approve of Conrad and Hardy who deal with real aspects of life.Woolf believes in writing without concentrating on plots or characters. Woolf, like Joyce, practiced the technique of stream of consciousness in her writings. Woolf also believed that only the worthy gets recorded in the mind.

It is only fair to view the two essays within the contexts of their times. Whilst Eliot was concentrating on the poetic tradition, Woolf was writing as a novelist, an art form that had peeked to some extent to the nineteenth century and was undergoing serious metamorphosis. If we consider this we may see that there are some justifications in her claim because throughout its history, the novel has initially been viewed with suspicion in the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century many novelists were subjected to unreasonable strictures by the reading public, circulating libraries and the publishers as to, not only what their novels contained but also the type of characters they wrote about.

In Eliot s The Metaphysical Poets , he finds a similarity between the Metaphysical poets and the French symbolist poets who wrote in the late nineteenth century. What made the metaphysical poets an important part of tradition is that they were unknown during the time that Eliot wrote the essay.

Eliot s poetry is full of allusion. There is a combination between his experience of real life and tradition, which he

uses to form this type of writing. Eliot maybe seen as stringently, practicing what he preaches. The poem The Waste Land abounds in biblical, literary and mythological

references . His two opening lines:

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

maybe viewed as at once underscoring the painful nature of the process of rebirth in the world of nature. This may also be seen in late inferences to the Fisher King . We could see clearly the use of the seasons as different forms of tradition, April as cruel, Winter keeping us warm and Summer as surprising. The given lines also tend to be reminiscent of some kind of inversion of Shelley s lines:

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

Virginia Woolf s The Mark On The Wall shows us quite clearly that she agrees with Plato s point that reality is so vain . She starts her essay with a casual word such as Perhaps absorbing the reader like a magnet, glueing him to the text! Woolf emphasizes freedom of the individual as having a romantic glow. The main point of the essay is that material reality is not dependable and that external reality is less important. She uses symbolism in her work for example the tree which is a symbol of concrete life emphasizing the personal world.

A Room Of One s Own , by Virginia Woolf, might be seen as a kind of cultural odyssey. A critic has pointed out, however, that this is really not as perplexing as it might seem if one considers two different meanings of the word culture . On the other hand culture is an anthropological concept, it s about how live embracing , one might say, the patterns through which people in a society experience the world. Different societies, he says, have different cultures. But on

the other hand there is the more common meaning of culture , simply donating the arts, including fiction. In A Room Of One s Own, it can be suggested that Woolf is

concerned with both meaning of culture, as in getting culture and being cultured she connects these two meanings through the concepts of gender.

Woolf points out, at the opening of the work, that this is really the only truthful opinion that she has to offer about Women and Fiction. What she CAN talk about, however, is how she came to her view about the privacy and the money – and this provides the work’s structure: A Room Of One s Own , we might say, is a kind of cultural odyssey where we experience someone moving past different landmarks toward a settled place, or in this case, a settled opinion. And following her through the journey – noting her stops and the different ways that her experience can be interpreted – may be the best way to understand it.

The narrator concludes the first chapter by thinking about “how unpleasant it is to be locked out… and how it’s worse perhaps to be locked in;” about the safety and prosperity of the one sex and the poverty and insecurity of the other; and of the effect of tradition and the lack of tradition on the mind of the writer.

Woolf concludes the book with a return to her most famous image, suggesting that Shakespeare s sister lives in the woman, and that she can flourish it but only if- woman face reality and work to make an environment conducive to such a genius.

In her novels, she is thinking, In her critical works one can sometimes hear her voice, but it is always a little formal, a little editorial. But in A Room Of One s Own she gets very close to her own conversational style. points out Quentin Bell.

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