The Corner

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Modernist Wars


I’m going to take up the Everett Dirksen strategy: declare victory and
withdraw. The belief that Eliot and the rest are worth reading for purposes
other than the passing of examinations is so deeply rooted in the
college-educated American mind, I see no hope of eradicating it. I think we
just have to write this off as a species of national eccentricity, like the
Japanese taste for rotted seaweed or the French scorn for deodorant. The
entirely bogus quality of “modernist” verse must be so apparent to anyone
whose mind has not been poisoned by exposure to academic Eng Lit studies,
that those who are blind to it should be pitied, not mocked. I therefore
close these exchanges in a spirit of charity and forbearance.


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