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After Strange Gods
After Strange Gods
A Primer of Modern Heresy; The Page-Barbour Lectures at the University of Virginia, 1933 (Classic Reprint)

Excerpt from After Strange Gods: A Primer of Modern Heresy; The Page-Barbour Lectures at the University of Virginia, 1933 Virginia a very pleasant memory; to my hosts, Professor and Mrs. Scott Buchanan; to Professor Buchanan for con versations and suggestions out of which these lectures arose; and to the Revd. M. C. D'arcy, and Mr. F. V. Morley for their criticisms. It is a pleasure to me to think that these lectures were delivered at one of the older, smaller and most gracious of American educational in stitutions, one of those in which some vestiges of a tra ditional education seem to survive. Perhaps I am mistaken: but if not, I should wish that I might be able to encourage such institutions to maintain their communications with the past, because in so doing they will be maintaining their communications with any future worth communicating with. T. S. E. About the Publisher Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at www.forgottenbooks.com This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.


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authored-by T. S. Eliot on 5/29/2019, 1:32:30 PM

excerpt At the moment when one writes, one is what one is, and the damage of a lifetime, and of having been born into an unsettled society, cannot be repaired at the moment of composition on 5/30/2019, 5:48:58 PM

excerpt I should say that in one's prose reflexions one may be legitimately occupied with ideals, whereas in the writing of verse one can only deal with actuality on 5/30/2019, 5:48:58 PM

excerpt View of life' is as good as another's, all the more enterprising spirits will naturally evolve their own; and where there is no custom to determine what the task of literature is, every writer will determine for himself, and the more enterprising will range as far afield as possible. on 5/30/2019, 5:48:58 PM

excerpt It is fatally easy, under the conditions of the modern world, for a writer of genius to conceive of himself as a Messiah. Other writers, indeed, may have had profound insights before him; but we readily believe that everything is relative to its period of society, and that these insights have now lost their validity; a new generation is a new world, so there is always a chance, if not of delivering a wholly new gospel, of delivering one as good as new. ... A writer who is fired with such a conviction is likely to have some devoted disciples; but for posterity he is liable to become, what he will be for the majority of his contemporaries, merely one among many entertainers. And the pity is that the man may have had something to say of the greatest importance: but to announce, as your own discovery, some truth long known to mankind, is to secure immediate attention at the price of ultimate neglect. on 5/30/2019, 5:48:58 PM

excerpt The prevailing flavor of immaturity on 5/30/2019, 5:48:58 PM

excerpt Mr. Yeats was in search of a tradition, a little too consciously perhaps like all of us. on 5/30/2019, 5:48:58 PM

excerpt if he has not arrived at a central and universal philosophy he has at least discarded, for the most part, the trifling and eccentric, the provincial in time and place. on 5/30/2019, 5:48:58 PM

excerpt the crippling effect upon men of letters, of not having been born and brought up in the environment of a living and central tradition. on 5/30/2019, 5:48:58 PM

excerpt But my point is that blasphemy is not a matter of good form but of right belief; no one can possibly blaspheme in any sense except that in which a parrot may be said to curse, unless he profoundly believes in that which he profanes; and when anyone who is not a believer is shocked by blasphemy he is shocked merely by a breach of good form; and it is a nice question whether, being in a state of intellectual error, he is or is not committing a sin in being shocked for the wrong reasons. on 5/30/2019, 5:48:58 PM

excerpt It is certainly my opinion that first-rate blasphemy is one of the rarest things in literature, for it requires both literary genius and profound faith, joined in a mind in a peculiar and unusual state of spiritual sickness. I repeat that I am not defending blasphemy; I am reproaching a world in which blasphemy is impossible. on 5/30/2019, 5:48:58 PM

excerpt My next point is a more delicate one to handle. One can conceive of blasphemy as doing moral harm to feeble or perverse souls; at the same time one must recognise that the modern environment is so unfavourable to faith that it produces fewer and fewer individuals capable of being injured by blasphemy. on 5/30/2019, 5:48:58 PM

excerpt But as the majority is capable neither of strong emotion nor of strong resistance, it always inclines to admire passion for its own sake, unless instructed to the contrary; on 5/30/2019, 5:48:58 PM

excerpt In an age of unsettled beliefs and enfeebled tradition the man of letters, the poet, and the novelist, are in a situation dangerous for themselves and for their readers on 5/30/2019, 5:48:58 PM

excerpt Most 'defenders of tradition' are mere conservatives, unable to distinguish between the permanent and the temporary, the essential and the accidental. ... Where there is no external test of the validity of a writer's work, we fail to distinguish between the truth of his view of life and the personality which makes it plausible; so that in our reading, we may be simply yielding ourselves to one seduc- tive personality after another. on 5/30/2019, 5:48:58 PM

excerpt I have after some deliberation called this essay a primer of modern heresy: hinting that it is offered primarily to those who may be interested in pursuing the subject by themselves. on 5/30/2019, 5:48:58 PM