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. Olga Ushakova

Olga M. Ushakova
Tyumen State University, Russia


The aspects I’d like to touch upon are the importance of Dante's works for development of modernist aesthetics and poetics and appreciation of Dante by English and Russian poets, T.S. Eliot and Anna Andreevna Akhmatova, the most famous woman poet in the 20th century Russian literature, a “Russian Sappho”.

Akhmatova's Poem Without a Hero could be considered as one of rare examples of modernist poetic texts in Russian literature. It is a poem in many voices and Eliot’s voice is one of the most important voices in this poem. In Poem Without a Hero we can see the parallels with Four Quartets, Hollow Men, Ash Wednesday and other Eliot’s poems. It's natural because the late Akhmatova realized inner closeness to Eliot's spiritual and poetic world (see very important references to Eliot in her diaries). Both artists, Eliot and Akhmatova, belonged to the same generation with the same historical experience, aesthetic tastes, cultural and educational background. But the most important thing uniting them was the European literary tradition in which they placed themselves. And the central figure of their "European canon" was Dante. His works should be a key for understanding numerous parallels in Eliot and Akhmatova’s art. Akhmatova and Eliot created their modern versions of Divine Comedy. Dante influenced many motifs and images of their main poems.

It' obvious that the total paradigm of modernist aesthetics and poetics, the aspiration of modernist poets to exceed the historical, social, individual bounds, their quest of universal and eternal substances, creation of "the grand metanarratives", etc. can't be considered outside Dante's "territory".

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