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Literature, Modernism, and Dance$
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Susan Jones

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199565320

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199565320.001.0001

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‘At the still point’

‘At the still point’

T. S. Eliot, Dance, and a Transatlantic Poetics

(p.223) 10 ‘At the still point’
Literature, Modernism, and Dance

Susan Jones

Oxford University Press

Drawing on Eliot's invocation of dance throughout his work, especially in his most mature meditations on time, space, and the body in The Four Quartets, the chapter explores the poet's use of dance to illustrate a modernist perspective on the sublime. The discussion focuses on Eliot's expression of the ‘still point’, cited in Burnt Norton as the location of dance, and examines the ways in which Eliot transformed his first-hand spectatorship of dance—especially the choreography of Massine and Antony Tudor—into literary material and into an expression of transcendence in this poem. Conversely the discussion also shows how twentieth-century choreographers, including Martha Graham, May O’Donnell, and George Balanchine, reciprocated in their references to the literary resonances of ‘the still point’.

Keywords:   eliot, graham, modernism, poetics, sublime, transcendence

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