Speaking the unnameable : A phenomenology of sense in T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets
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Through its ostensibly philosophical rhetoric and multiple allusions, Four Quartets manifests a continuity between Eliot’s poetic thought and his early engagement with philosophy. The thematic core of this continuity is Eliot’s concern with the meaningful experience of reality, described as equally dependent on direct perception and on linguistic structure: language shapes perception into a meaningful world-vision, while experience itself is an ongoing process of interpreting (or signifying) that which is perceived. This link empowers poetic language, entangling the reading consciousness in a process to which Husserl’s descriptions of consciousness refer as “sense-giving.” Four Quartets epitomizes both the phenomenological description and the poetic enactment of meaningful experience. Its opening movement both mimics the structure of experienced reality and keeps the reading eye in the process of making sense in its full complexity, involving all faculties of apprehending reality, from the metaphysical logo-centric systems underlying conceptual understanding of the world to the direct sensuous perception of immediate environment.
Levina , J 2013 , ' Speaking the unnameable : A phenomenology of sense in T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets ' Journal of Modern Literature , vol 36 , no. 3 , pp. 194-211 .
Journal of Modern Literature
© 2013. Indiana University Press. This article was published as Levina, J. (2013) ‘Speaking the Unnamable: A Phenomenology of Sense in T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets’, Journal of Modern Literature, Vol 36 (3), pp. 194-211. No part of this article may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or distributed, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photographic, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Indiana University Press. For educational re-use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center http://www.copyright.com/. For all other permissions, please visit Indiana University Press' http://www.indiana.edu/~iupress/rights/rightsjournal.html.