Discuss a connection between Eliot's theory of tradition and Jauss' Model of historical horizons

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One essential difference between Eliot and Jauss how literary meaning is produced. For Eliot, the writer is of primary importance. Eliot's idea of "tradition" (as expressed in his essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent ") has to do with the expression of a kind of aesthetic national heritage. Literary...

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One essential difference between Eliot and Jauss how literary meaning is produced. For Eliot, the writer is of primary importance. Eliot's idea of "tradition" (as expressed in his essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent") has to do with the expression of a kind of aesthetic national heritage. Literary greatness, according to Eliot, lies in the poet's ability to use his genius to reinterpret or reflect this tradition. In a sense, Eliot's tradition is a constant reassertion of an essential "Englishness" (as represented by "great" canonical figures such as Chaucer and Shakespeare) which literature, by its definition, reinforces and upholds. Eliot's own poetry is a case in point: his "modernism" is in constant dialogue with the "tradition" by virtue of its allusive nature. The "value" of this tradition for Eliot exists independently from any historical context: in a sense, what makes literature "literature" is its enduring humanistic value.

Jauss, on the other hand, is more concerned with the act of reading. Whereas Eliot's sense of "tradition" stems from his identity as a poet himself, Jauss writes in an explicitly philosophical tradition, namely, that of phenomenology. Unlike Eliot, Jauss's notion of historical horizons is an attempt to conceptualize the totality of interpretations of a literary work at a particular time. In this view, there is no totalizing "tradition" to which works belong; rather, "literature" is the product of the sum of readings of a given work. For Jauss, understanding a figure like Shakespeare requires understanding the history of how Shakespeare has been interpreted over the years and understanding how those readings are situated within particular historical moments or "horizons." Unlike Eliot, Jauss does not seek to privilege the artist but sees "art" as the product of a kind of "aesthetic reception" or interpretation.

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