11 December, 2009

Helen Gardner's "The Art of T.S. Eliot"

Gardner's classic book focuses on Eliot's poetic style, making it a welcome addition to a body of criticism which often neglects the prosodic elements of the poetry in favor of analyzing its images. Tracing Eliot's style in terms of his artistic maturation, Gardner identifies a turning point in his poetry from his earlier work, in which he often imitates the voices of other poets, to a newly developed independent style after “The Waste Land,” a style which underscores the musicality inherent in natural rhythms, in part by its use of semi-accentual meter, and allows Eliot equal access to the poetic and the prosaic in his work. A thematic evolution is evident in Eliot's corpus as well, and Gardner does not allow her attention to Eliot's mechanics to overshadow his core ideas. The content of his poetry finds its most complete development in the Quartets, whose mastery of theme is accompanied by the pinnacle of Eliot's mechanical expertise. Whereas “The Waste Land” identifies fear as the beginning of wisdom, “Ash Wednesday” and the post-conversion poems move beyond this Sophoclean sentiment to hint at a promised resurrection, while the Quartets take on a visionary quality in their ability to make present this resurrection in the midst of this movement towards wisdom through fear.

06 December, 2009

Guillaume Couture

Sometimes when I ought to be writing papers, I take enough of a break to read about random unrelated things on the internet. What an original form of entertainment. I stun myself on occasion with the brilliance of it.

Anyway, that's just to preface my observation that it's rather fun to read about one's family online. Especially prestigious ancestors. And moreover, most people in the US seem to have a scandalously scant knowledge of anything pertaining to French Canadian history. I mean, they might have a vague idea that there were "French and Indian Wars," but beyond that they are ignorant. Which is a pity, considering that certain parts of the country have been influenced by this colonial culture nearly as much as by the British one.

In chief, I mean this to prod anyone who is similarly ignorant to take a look at this Wikipedia article about my ancestor, Guillaume Couture, a prominent and fairly archetypal French Canadian settler of the early 1600s. For those of my relatives who are interested and read French, I might mention that the French Canadian version of the article is rather more complete.

In case it's not blatantly obvious, I might characterize this post as shameless promotion of an uncommon historical subject and/or desire to procrastinate, yet to feel productive by posting something.