Old Dogmas for a New Crisis? Hell, Usury and Incarnation in T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and W. H. Auden

Part of the Modernism and … book series (MAND)


In 1939, on the cusp of war, W. H. Auden could, in Michael North’s words, ‘summarize in one paragraph what had become a familiar indictment’ (North 1991: 2):

The most obvious social fact of the last forty years is the failure of liberal capitalist democracy, based on the premises that every individual is born free and equal, each an absolute entity independent of all others; and that a formal political equality, the right to vote, the right to a fair trial, the right of free speech, is enough to guarantee his freedom of action in his relation with his fellow men. The results are only too familiar to us all. By denying the social nature of personality, and by ignoring the social power of money, it has created the most impersonal, the most mechanical and the most unequal civilisation the world has ever seen, a civilisation in which the only emotion common to all classes is a feeling of individual isolation from everyone else, a civilisation torn apart by the opposing emotions born of economic injustice, the just envy of the poor and the selfish terror of the rich.

(APr II, 6–7)


Liberal Democracy Christian Faith Spiritual Struggle Dark Night Intense Experience 
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Copyright information

© Erik Tonning 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Foreign LanguagesUniversity of BergenNorway

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