TS Eliot and church architecture

Title: TS Eliot and church architecture
Authors: Atkins, Hazel
Date: 2010
Abstract: T.S. Eliot's expressions of interest in church architecture are recurrent and persistent throughout his career, finding articulation in his personal letters; his pieces for the Dial and the Criterion which, taken together, form what might be called a campaign for the preservation of city churches; and in various representations in his poems and plays including The Waste Land, The Rock, Murder in the Cathedral, and "Little Gidding." The dissertation asks, firstly, why Eliot, prior to his conversion to Christianity in 1927, would be at all interested in church architecture. Secondly, the dissertation undertakes to trace important changes and developments in his thinking about ecclesiastical buildings over the course of his career. The dissertation demonstrates that T.S. Eliot's engagement with church architecture parallels his broader ideas about the nature and role of art in society. He wrote in 1919 that ethics should not interrupt literary criticism, while in 1935 he wrote that literary criticism must be completed from an ethical, moral, or theological point of view. These two statements, widely divergent, reveal the trajectory of his thought about art prior to and following his conversion. The dissertation reveals that Eliot's investigation of church architecture can be seen as running exactly parallel to this trajectory and to the changes and developments in Eliot's intellectual and spiritual life. Therefore, Eliot's representations of ecclesiastical architecture in his poems and plays are not simply interesting recurring images or symbols. Rather, they can be seen as forming an important part of his intellectual and philosophical journey. The dissertation closes by pointing out that it should come as no surprise that Eliot arrives, in his last major published poem which is in many ways a retrospective poem or book of memory, at the end of his exploring, only to find himself, once again, in a chapel and knows it for the first time.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/29959
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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