Symbolism and T.S. Eliot’s Theory of Objective Correlative
Authors: Dr. Rakesh Chandra Joshi
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T.S. Eliot, as a literary critic, was profoundly influenced by the symbolists after he read Arthur Symons' book The Symbolist Movement in Literature (1899), an introduction to the French literature. He himself acknowledged afterwards that it was through the study of this book that he got familiar with such great symbolists, like, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Jules Laforgue, and Tristan Corbière. He, as a poet, was influenced by Laforgue in the matter of style, content, and technique, whereas, his spirit was greatly influenced by Baudelaire. He was so much influenced by the critical abilities of Remy de Gourmont that he went to the extent of saying that “perhaps Remy de Gourmont had most of the general intelligence of Aristotle”. So, it is apparent that Eliot was profoundly influenced by the symbolists and later on, he derived most of his ideas and concepts from them, especially, from the study of Laforgue. Eliot is so much influenced by the symbolists that he derives most from them—the ideas, the characters, the situations, the moods, the phrases, and even the titles of his works. He is influenced by Laforgue’s methods, style, and viewpoints. The term ‘objective correlative’ itself has the echo of symbolism. He draws symbols from the background of literary tradition. His symbols are prosaic, poetic, grand, material, abstract, metaphysical, and spiritual. The terseness of his phrases is completely found to be in the manner of Laforgue. This paper attempts to establish that Eliot formulated the concepts of ‘objective correlative’ and ‘dissociation of sensibility’ under the influence of the French symbolists. Metaphysical Poetry also influenced his writings. The paper also reiterates that some of Eliot’s critical concepts were not original.