February 15, 2007

The Poem Stops

Quiller-Couch, in his Cambridge lectures On the Art of Writing (1916), held that the greatest literature is always seraphically free From taint of personality.
George Watson "Are Poems Historical Acts?"

I found it interesting that Quiller-Couch used this particular reference in his Cambridge lectures. This reference is also used in the 1909 story by E.M. Forster, "The Machine Stops."

[There] will come a generation that had got beyond facts, beyond impressions, a generation absolutely colourless, a generation seraphically free From taint of personality, which will see the French Revolution not as it happened, nor as they would like it to have happened, but as it would have happened, had it taken place in the days of the Machine.

By making something completely devoid of the "taint of personality," be it a poem or a generation, it is being robbed of part of its life-force. George Watson presents this view as the opposing side to his argument for the historical value of poetry. An extremely powerful viewpoint in this given light.

Almost as cryptic as Kuno's utterance, "The Machine stops," is the argument Watson presents; without historical connection, the poem stops.

Posted by Diana Geleskie at February 15, 2007 10:48 AM | TrackBack
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