T. S. Eliot’s debt to J. M. Robertson: a consideration of their critical theories as represented in Eliot’s 1919 <italic>Athenaeum</italic> reviews.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jacky L. Brammer (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Keith Cushman

Abstract: The purpose of my thesis was to examine the critical relationship between T. S. and J. M. Robertson. Both writers were important figures in driving the evolution of Twentieth century literary theory toward scientific empiricism. But there has been no concerted effort to fully explore the connection between the two. Given the lack of secondary scholarship in the field, my research was entirely primary documents, and it yielded surprising results. Both authors discerned a methodological failing in late Nineteenth century and early Twentieth century criticism. They argued that Romanticism had corrupted critical theory. Criticism needed to be redefined as a more scientific field grounded in empirical observations. Both critics also discussed the interconnected relationship between art and criticism and how each is part-science and part-creative act. The words "thought" and "feeling" are repeated often to represent objectivity and subjectivity in the relationship. They argued that it was the critic's responsibility to identify the relationship and correctly apply it to critical theory. But Robertson and Eliot disagreed about the critic's role in re-establishing artistic theory away from Romanticism. Looking closely at Elizabethan Literature, The Problem of Hamlet, "Hamlet and his Problems," and "Tradition and the Individual Talent," I show that Eliot wrote criticism to adjust artistic theory toward scientific empiricism and Robertson settled for changing critical theory. Their different objectives affected the way they wrote criticism and the way scholars have subsequently read their criticism.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2009
Criticism, Eliot, Hamlet, Robertson, Scientific empiricism, Romanticism
Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965 $v Knowledge $v Literature.
Robertson, J. M. (John Mackinnon), 1856-1933.
Criticism $v History $v 20th century.
Romanticism $v Influence.
Empiricism $v History.

Email this document to