Book of Practical Cats, Harold Bloom, La Figlia che Piange, Murder in the Cathedral, poems, Poetry, T S Eliot, The Cocktail Party, The Four Quartets, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land
The other great example of American poetic genius, and indeed the most important and influential English language poet of the 20th century, was T S Eliot. Bloom is not quite as enthusiastic about him as I am, but he grants that this is also a personal judgment relating to what he sees as Eliot’s anti-Semitism. I am not so sure that it is fair to dismiss Eliot as anti-Semitic, since he seems rather to have reflected the prevalent view in Western society about Jews, before their undoubted economc power provided invaluable assistance to the Allies in the First World War, and they became respectable.
To ascribe moral inadequacy to those who were contemptuous of the Jews before that is as silly as it would be to find reprehensible those who were contemptuous during colonial times of people whose colour was darker than their own. One can certainly find admirable those who resisted the common prejudices of their times, but Jews tend to be ultra-sensitive, and can afford to be, in a manner that is not open to those who do not exercise similar economic and political power.
Asian and African critics cannot then ascribe racism to great writers reflecting the common perspectives of their times, and assert that this takes away from their genius. Fortunately, despite Bloom’s moral fervor, he does grant Eliot’s genius, and provides useful insights into some of his poetry.