T.S. Eliot, Dante, and the European Tradition: An International Symposium
January 19th - 25th , 2008
  Promoted by:
Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation
Palazzo Coppini Via del Giglio, 10
50123 – Florence (Italy)


Author : Dr. Arianna Antonielli

Dantesque Perspectives in T.S. Eliot’s Inventions of the March Hare

In 1996 Christopher Ricks published T. S. Eliot’s early poems under the title Inventions of the March Hare. These poems shed a new light on his early poetry and they certainly underline the fact that Eliot was already quite involved in Dantesque visions and poetry. The present study intends to focus attention on the poems in the first section of his ‘Notebook,’ - considered by Eliot to be unpublishable - which enable us to sketch Eliot’s poetic Bildung through a dense array of Dantesque symbols, images, and metaphors. A plot modulated by ironic, visionary and obscene tonalities, and developed through an interesting series of hallucinatory or dreamlike states of consciousness which often appear to be borrowed from Dante's Inferno. Along this «fragile, tattered web of language, stretched over a void» (Jenkins, 1997, p. 3), madness, griminess and isolation are the privileged perspectives, from which Eliot’s characters watch or approach the world around them. Dante’s imagery, stylistic features and vocabulary are still noticeable in the manuscript poems in the form of faint echoes which will reverberate rather powerfully in his later compositions.

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