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Eliot, Lawrence & the Jews

- Abstract

WHENEVER TRACES of anti-Semitism appear in writers of major importance, I suspect that most readers are inclined either to dismiss the whole matter as an inconvenient but incidental prejudice of the author, or, alternately, to respond in mere indignation and, by so doing, to assume that hostility toward Jews is everywhere the same, without significant differences in nuance, motive, or general orientation. However, what a writer has to say about Jews, carefully considered, can sometimes provide a key to underlying aims and even methods in his work, and an insight into his relation to the larger culture around him. To suggest something of the range of the phenomenon, I would like to consider symptomatic works by two English moderns at opposite poles-T. S. Eliot, the Christian conservative militantly defending an ostensibly older idea of European culture, and D. H. Lawrence, the evangelical pagan attacking some of the basic values of Christian Europe.

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