'The past half-century has been Eliot's Age...as once there was an Age of Dryden or an Age of Johnson,' Russell Kirk asserts in this now-classic literary biography. While critics agree that Eliot's prominence remains unrivaled among modern poets, his elusive persona often generates uneasiness among those assessing his legacy. Not so with Kirk, whose twelve-year friendship with Eliot began shortly after he published The Conservative Mind
in 1953, and lasted until Eliot's death. The two writers shared much in common: both were Americans educated in Britain (Eliot never left, becoming a British citizen in 1927) and converts, in their forties, to traditional Christianity (Anglo-Catholic and Catholic, respectively). Although his own conservatism took a more political bent, Kirk grasps Eliot's profound distaste for ideology, which persisted amidst two world wars. Dismissing suspicions that Eliot was an elitist, a fascist, or an anti-Semite, Kirk traces a complex moral vision rooted in Eliot's affinity for the 'permanent things' ('Conservatism is too often conservation of the wrong things; liberalism a relaxation of discipline; revolution a denial of the permanent things,' Eliot wrote in The Idea of a Christian Society
.) Kirk's claim that 'if we apprehend Eliot--who is not easy to plumb--we apprehend the intellectual and moral struggles of our time' rings as true today as it did when this book first appeared some 40 years ago.
An Eighth Day View:
Though much has been written about T. S. Eliot since it was first published, Eliot and His Age remai...