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Artefacts of WritingIdeas of the State and Communities of Letters from Matthew Arnold to Xu Bing$
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Peter D. McDonald

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198725152

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198725152.001.0001

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T. S. Eliot vs the League and UNESCO

T. S. Eliot vs the League and UNESCO

Chapter:
(p.75) 2 T. S. Eliot vs the League and UNESCO
Source:
Artefacts of Writing
Author(s):

Peter D. McDonald

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198725152.003.0003

This chapter begins with the framing of the UNESCO constitution in 1945 and T. S. Eliot’s objections to the conception of culture that underpinned it. It then traces the development of Eliot’s own traditionalist-conservative cultural thinking from ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’ (1919) and After Strange Gods (1934) to Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1948), focusing on the idealist-organicist assumptions that shaped his commitment to cultural diversity, his idea of an exclusively Christian Europe, and his anti-Semitism. The third section shows how he pitted the internationalism of his little magazine the Criterion, which was a forum for his ‘European Idea’, against the ICIC. The chapter concludes by comparing Eliot’s ineffectual intervention in the UNESCO debates in the 1940s to Claude Lévi-Strauss’s no less controversial but more influential intervention in the 1970s.

Keywords:   UNESCO constitution, League of Nations, T. S. Eliot, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Criterion, anti-Semitism, idealism, organicism, Europe, anthropology

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