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Divine CartographiesGod, History, and Poiesis in W. B. Yeats, David Jones, and T. S. Eliot$
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W. David Soud

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198777779

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198777779.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 December 2021

The Silence and the Moment

The Silence and the Moment

The Dialectical Poetics of Four Quartets

Chapter:
(p.147) 3 The Silence and the Moment
Source:
Divine Cartographies
Author(s):

W. David Soud

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198777779.003.0004

Much critical attention has been devoted to the mystical sources of Four Quartets, but the poem’s engagement with interwar Christian theology has been largely ignored. This chapter establishes how the poem’s countercurrent to mysticism has its roots in the dialectical theology of Karl Barth. After establishing Eliot’s knowledge of Barth’s theology, the chapter explores how the discursive strategies of Four Quartets, which derives not only from mystical apophaticism but also from Barthian discourse, serve to convey the dialectic of history and eternity in a way that bridges the Anglo-Catholic and Calvinist tendencies in Eliot’s thought. The reading argues that the relatively sanguine, renunciate theology of ‘Burnt Norton’ gives way in the wartime Quartets to a more Barthian view in which the self must hold itself accountable to history instead of seeking to transcend it, and must hope for beatitude only on the far side of the boundary of death.

Keywords:   Eliot, Barth, dialectic, theology, mysticism, interwar, late modernism, history, Christian

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