Form and Content (Masterplots II: Nonfiction Series)
Thomas Stearns Eliot’s Harvard University education, his alienation from his birthplace (St. Louis, Missouri), his repudiation of his family’s Unitarianism, his reputation as a man of letters, his installation as a member of the Church of England, and his renunciation of American citizenship all contribute to the fabric of Notes Towards the Definition of Culture. Eliot, a consummate master and jealous guardian of the English language, preferred British English to American English; he preferred the older British elitist education to American egalitarian education; and he preferred England’s colorful and orthodox Anglo-Catholic ritual to the bland patina of American religious observances. He preferred the hierarchy and brilliant pageantry of British monarchy to the leveling processes of American republicanism and a class system based upon birth and landed wealth to one based upon wealth acquired through purely capitalistic means. All these preferences, which England satisfied for him at least adequately, find expression in his essay defining culture, published twenty-one years after he chose official expatriation, three years after the close of World War II and the ratification of the United Nations Charter, and the year of his receipt of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Eliot began work on this essay in 1945, ostensibly in response to the establishment of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which...
(The entire section is 1224 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Masterplots II: Nonfiction Series)
Ackroyd, Peter. T.S. Eliot: A Life, 1984.
Austin, Allen. T.S. Eliot: The Literary and Social Criticism, 1971.
Bantock, G.H. T.S. Eliot and Education, 1970.
Headings, Philip R. T.S. Eliot, 1964.
Kojecky, Roger. T.S. Eliot’s Social Criticism, 1971.
Ricks, Beatrice. T.S. Eliot: A Bibliography of Secondary Works, 1980.
Robbins, Russell Hope. The T.S. Eliot Myth, 1951.
Spender, Stephen. T.S. Eliot, 1975.
(The entire section is 62 words.)