In a letter to Herbert Read of October, 1924, T.S. Eliot claimed that he wanted to use his position as editor of the Criterion to publish writers whose "faith" did not essentially conflict with his own (Ackroyd 142-43). Like just about all of Eliot's writing of the time, this comment suggests some sort of deeply held conviction, apparently based upon some conservative first principle. Moreover, in this crucial period of his career, roughly from the publication of The Waste Land in late 1922 to his confirmation into the Church of England in the middle of 1927. Eliot certainly acted as though he were committing himself to something very definite. To use one of his favorite words, he went to great lengths to recreate himself as a "reactionary" man of letters. It was in these years, after all, that he founded the Criterion, left his banking job to become the influential poetry editor at Faber and Gwyer, assumed an active role in the publication of his own work, became a British citizen, cultivated his preoccupations with original sin and austere discipline, and shifted the main focus of his criticism from literature to the social and moral order. And most significantly, at least for the history of poetry, it was in these years that Eliot abandoned the various fragmentations of Prufrock and Other Observations and The Waste Land, with all their shocks to established sensibilities, for the direct statement and doubtful pieties of "The Journey of the Magi" and the earliest portions of Ash Wednesday.


The first annual Humanities Symposium was held Feb. 28-March 1, 1994. The Humanities Symposium was part of "Viva Humanitas," a yearlong series of programs celebrating the opening of the Jesse Philips Humanities Center in August 1993.



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