Saturday, October 02, 2021

A close look at a close reader …

… Christopher Ricks: the artful noticer - Prospect Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Allusive and playful, Ricks corrects easy critical assumptions in ways that would entertain any literature lover.
[In] another essay re-composed from a lecture, “TS Eliot and ‘Wrong’d Othello”’ …  he analyses Eliot’s notorious claim that, in his sonorous final monologue, Shakespeare’s Othello is “cheering himself up” (the italics are Eliot’s). Ricks shows you what perhaps you had heard but did not really see before—how Eliot’s criticism takes on the phrasing and diction of what he criticises. Far from distancing himself from Othello, Eliot is deeply involved in his words and thoughts. Suddenly you see that lines in The Waste Land that you have read a hundred times echo this marital tragedy. Eliot meets Shakespeare in a net of quotations and allusions

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