Philosophical elements in four quartets


Four Quartets serves as an illustration of the undeniable fact that Western literature forms a unity, and bears out the truth of Eliot’s statement that “the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer... has a simultaneous existence and composes a si­ multaneous order” !). Again, as is the case with most other criti­ cal remarks on Four Quartets, the contents of the poems them­ selves serve as timely reminders of this fact, and thus seem to provide a more legitimate material basis for critical enquiry. For on several occasions Eliot takes up this point, and perhaps no­ where as unambiguously as in East Coker: “ And what there is to conquer By strength and submission, has already been discovered Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope To emulate — but there is no competition — There is only the fight to recover what has been lost And found and lost again and again...”