Textual Analysis of T.S. Eliot’s Essay
from Notes on a Definition of Culture: a series of Radio talks. Abstract
In his essay from a Definition of Culture Eliot proposes that the English language is the richest for the purposes of writing poetry. He uses this claim to support a second one: each culture is renewed when its fundamental nature of uniqueness and variety is recognized. Treatment
This essay is a broadcast, delivered after WWII to the Germans. It has 3 sections, each represented by a paragraph. Section 1: the first claim is that the English language is rich. One reason for this is the quantity of vocabulary. This is caused by its different linguistic origins. He uses examples from history to show the diverse sources of vocabulary, and rhythmic variety. Section 2. This section is built on a refutation: that the greater nations are great in only one art form: France and Italy in art, Germany in Music. Instead he points out that art is not the exclusive property of one country; and, when one nation has been great in one art another nation has enhanced it. This leads him to conclude that the literatures of Europe are interrelated. For his support he once again uses historical examples, mentioning specific poets including, himself. In this section he concludes that the development of poetry depends on the influences of poets from countries other than the poet’s own. Section 3 Eliot concludes that there is a fundamental unity to European culture which is twofold in nature: first it has the ability to draw from its own source; and second, to learn from outside sources or other countries. To demonstrate this again he refers to history in reverse chronological order that places Israel significantly last; and, the employment of the metaphor of “a tissue of influences woven to and fro.” Evaluation
Eliot’s tone throughout the essay is serious and conciliatory. His style is friendly, instructive, and formal without being stiff. He uses the personal pronouns I to...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document