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. Viorica Patea

Eliot, Dante and the Poetics of a “Unified Sensibility”

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the relationship between Eliot’s poetics of a “unified sensibility” and the spirit of Dante. Eliot’s philosophy of a unified sensibility needs to be contemplated in the light of his philosophic outlook, ethical religious values and socio-historical concerns.
Preoccupied with the nineteenth-century disjunction of thought from sense, object from subject, Eliot translated Bradley’s theory of unification of points of view and his notion of an absolute into a theory of a unified sensibility which presents many similarities with Henri Corbin’s “mundus imaginalis” and Jung’s archetypal imagination.
Eliot called for modern poetry to retrieve the original unity previous to the great divide of the seventeenth century, which marked the dissociation between poetic imagination and positive thought. Eliot’s aesthetics of “a unified sensibility” is a doctrine of transmutation.
Terms like concretion and abstraction imply an ontological unity or rupture. Eliot countered Milton’s abstract imagination with Dante’s visual and allegoric imaginations. The Medieval mindset was premised on the a priori ontological unity between word and reality. Its main assumption is that the material world is in intimate contact with the transcendent. Visions arise from this identification with and unity between the sensible and the numinous world.

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