The invisible wagnerite : T.S. Eliot.
The present thesis is about aspects of Wagnerism in the
works of T.S. Eliot, in terms of both influence and affinities.
The opening chapter offers a brief historical background to
Eliot's familiarity with and relation to Wagner, as well as an
account of the principal issues to be discussed in the following
chapters. The two artists' volumes of criticism mostly show in
theory how they work in practice. One key theme there is the
maintenance of the idea of tradition and at the same time that of
revolutionizing the arts (poetry, opera and drama). Eliot's
interest in music, notably in the use of the Wagnerian leitmotif,
is one of the highlights of this study. Then, Eliot's concern
for myths: his 'mythical method' is discussed in a separate
chapter for comparison with Wagner's way of handling myths in his
operas. Other important topics feature drama, the Greeks and
Shakespeare, and poetry, especially Dante's, the Romantics' and
that of the French Symbolists. Certain themes common in both
(like salvation and love) are tackled in more than one chapter
because of their relevance throughout, but a selection of motifs
is singled out in a separate chapter. The study also investigates
Eliot's and Wagner's relation to art and life from religious
(Buddhism and Christianity) and philosophical (Schopenhauer and
Nietzsche) paints of view. Where relevant, some biographical data
shedding light on their arts are touched upon--e.g. their
personal (including marital) experiences and their anti-Semitism.
The concluding chapter rounds off the subject by mainly offering
some possible reasons
for Eliot's obscure and neglected Wagnerism.