Bergson, Eliot, and American Literature by Paul Douglass

By Paul Douglass

Beforehand, Bergson's greatly said effect on American literature hasn't ever been comprehensively mapped. writer Paul Douglass explains and evaluates Bergson's that means for American writers, starting with Eliot and relocating via Ransom, Penn Warren, and Tate to Faulkner, Wallace Stevens, Henry Miller, William Carlos Williams, and others. it is going to be a regular aspect of reference.

Bergson was once the continental thinker of the early 1900s, a celeb, as Sartre may later be. Profoundly influential all through Europe, and commonly mentioned in England and the US within the youth, Twenties, and Thirties, Bergson is now hardly learn. His present "obsolescence," Douglass argues, illuminates the Western shift from smooth to publish- Modern.

Ambitious in scope, this publication is still admirably as regards to Bergson himself: what he acknowledged, the place that matches within the historic context of philosophy, why his rules moved around the Atlantic, and the way he affected American writers. on the book's center are readings of Eliot's feedback and poetry, analyses of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and Light in August, and reviews of Ransom's, Tate's and Penn Warren's criticism.

This impressively researched and fantastically written examine will stay of lasting price to scholars of yankee literature.

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And this is the sort of value Bergson-and Poulet-find in art, particularly the experience of reading. When our inner self has been defended against that social self constantly usurping, we regain some measure of freedom and wholeness: "The deeper psychic states, those which are translated as free acts, express and sum up the whole of our past history" (TFW, 185). Precisely through relaxing intentionality do we experience freedom, and for that reason, Bergson says, free acts are exceptional. Bergsonian intuition is inseparable, then, from Bergson's general view of life as tension: The Uliving and concrete self" is always striv..

We only grasp an important, verifiable aspect of reality when we let it slip through our fingers. Intuition gives us access to life's flux, so we can grasp its freedom, its novelty. The intellect cannot give this access, since it is interested in sameness, not nov" elt~ in generalities, not experiences. The intellect is interested in words, and Bergson protests "against the substitution of concepts for things" (CM, 31, 105). On the other hand, he recognizes that the intuitive experience must emerge in the world of words.

He carefully defines intuition as "reflection, not feeling:' and describes intuition as one of two modes affording two essentiallrlrkinds of clar.. ity" in thought (CM, 103, 39). Bergson's intuition is thus different from Croce's, in that it is directly connected to apprehension, though it shares with Croce's intuition a cerebral attribute. In the sense that Bergson's intuition seeks the unique, it is in.. Bergson and Bergsonism 21 tensely personal. It does not participate in what Bergson saw as the undesirable impersonality of a reductive objectivity.

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