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 Ė Florence (Italy)


Author : Dr. John Xiros Cooper


T. S. Eliotís Die Einheit der Europšischen Kultur (1946) and the Idea of European Union

Eliotís three radio talks to the Germans in the summer of 1945, published in German in 1946 and in English as an appendix to Notes towards the Definition of Culture in 1948, have not attracted as much attention as they deserve. As part of the wider denazification strategy after the fall of Germany in 1945, these talks have been seen in quite limited terms as meeting a particular ideological need at a particular historical juncture. But they have a more important function that has not been sufficiently acknowledged. First of all, they have a clear connection to the rhetorical program of Four Quartets and to Eliotís activities as a European intellectual in the 1930s through his editorship of the Criterion. I explored some of those affinities in my book on Four Quartets in 1995. However, these three talks do not only look back in time, they also look forward and they are part of the political and cultural discussions across Europe about the future that led eventually to the Treaty of Rome on 25 March 1957. The three talks contributed to the framing of the cultural articles of the Treaty. Although they were aimed primarily at bringing back from the Nazi disaster a German intelligentsia traumatized by the barbarisms of war, they also set down cultural conditions for the movement towards European integration and, eventually, the creation of the European Union. This meant finding the values that were common to all Europeans without destroying at the same time their regional or national inflections. The balance between region and nation was further developed in Notes towards the Definition of Culture.

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