What are some main points in T. S. Eliot's essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent"?

In "Tradition and the Individual Talent," T. S. Eliot makes two primary points. First, tradition extends broadly to incorporate the past and the present, and poets should strive to know tradition and insert themselves into it. Second, poets ought to be merely the impersonal "receptacle" of the elements that join together to create art; they should not impose their emotions or personality on their poetry.

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T. S. Eliot's essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent" revolves around two primary points. First, Eliot presents his concept of tradition. Tradition, he claims, involves a "historical sense" that perceives both "the pastness of the past" and its "presence" in the present. Poets must be aware of and familiar with the wide literary tradition that extends far back into the past but that also captures the more recent developments and ranges across a broad geographic area. Poets must also strive to insert themselves into the flow of tradition, not slavishly imitating or deliberately trying to break completely with the past but rather adjusting tradition to make room for themselves.

Eliot's second primary point is rather more controversial. He argues that poets must separate themselves from their work. Poetry, real art, should have nothing at all to do with a poet's personal life. The poet is, rather, a medium, a "receptacle" of words, images, emotions, and ideas that combine together through concentration to form new art. The poet is the synthesizer of knowledge gained through study, tradition, and experience. They are "impersonal," and their own emotions must be kept tightly under control, for poetry is not "a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion." It is not "the expression of the personality" of the poet but "an escape from personality" that allows tradition to be manifested anew. Poets must sacrifice themselves for their art.

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One could say that the main point Eliot makes in "Tradition and the Individual Talent" is that artistic creation—which, of course, includes writing poetry—should be impersonal. What Eliot means by this is that the finished work of art should be separate and distinct from the personality of the individual artist.

Unlike the Romantic generation, Eliot doesn't see poetry as the expression of emotion. On the contrary, he sees it as an escape from emotion. Only in this way will the poet be able to synthesize the various images, ideas, and other raw materials that appear in their brain into a satisfying whole.

A poem, therefore, is objective in the truest sense of the word, in that it relates to the object itself—the actual work of art—rather than the subject who created it. In short, what matters to Eliot is not the poet but the poem. It is this that should be the focus of literary criticism.

It is only once a poem has been created in such an impersonal manner that it can take its rightful place among the great European tradition, as exemplified in Eliot's mind by Dante. A poem is not an isolated thing; it must partake of a tradition and contribute to the continuance of that tradition.

It does this not through a blind, unthinking adherence to what went before, but by way of a profound recognition of the part that a great work of art plays in a historical continuum to which it belongs and which it also shapes.

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T.S Eliot's essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent" is very metaphysical in its concepts; definitions of his main points are only understood within the context of the quantum metaphysical realm. Some of the main points in T.S. Eliot's essay are tradition, isolation, knowledge, and catylyst. By "tradition" Eilot means that all past poets comprise a simultaneous existence and order into which the new poet or artist is immersed or joined: tradition are those long historical lines of poets who stretch back through Spenser, Chaucer, Petrarch, Boccacio and all of them to Homer. This suggests that no poet ever writes in true isolation--the true meaning of an artist's work--is valued according to the whole tradition. Eliot suggested that at any given moment the tradition, the historical whole of past poetic or artisitic work, is complete, is an organized whole. When a new poem or other work of art is created it is subsumed by all that have gone before--the organized whole past tradition--and in being subsumed alters the nature of the whole: Each added piece of a created work of art or poetry alters and enriches the tradition, which is always an organized whole.

Eliot contends that knowledge--upon which inspiration and creation depend and from which the creative work attains excellence--is the collective wisdom and experience of all past poets, and the attainment of knowledge by the new poet is the submersion of self and ego into the collective tradition. Eliot uses this to state that the mind of the poet or other artist is a catalyst for the creative process, not the controller of the creative process. A catalyst is the initiating event that causes a thing--in this case creative art or poetry--to happen. The mind is a catalyst that stores up impressions until they ripen into an inspiration for the production of art or poetry. The poet or artist doesn't express personal self or personal traits, instead the poet or artist expresses a collective experience or emotion that is based on all the tradition that has existed before and is descriptive of the human emotion and experience that is present at the moment of the poem's or art work's creation.

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