Apartment in Athens by Glenway Wescott

By Glenway Wescott

A bestseller in 1945, this publication has been out of print for over thirty years

Like Wescott’s amazing novella The Pilgrim Hawk (which Susan Sontag defined in The New Yorker as belonging “among the treasures of 20th-century American literature”), Apartment in Athens issues an strange triangular dating. during this tale a few Greek couple in Nazi-occupied Athens who needs to percentage their residing quarters with a German officer, Wescott phases an excessive and unsettling drama of lodging and rejection, resistance and compulsion—an account of political oppression and religious fight that also is a parable approximately the prices of closeted id.

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His commitment to the theater was interrupted by the need, under conditions of total war, to close many public places, including the theaters. As a result, his creative energies returned to his first love, poetry. He realized that the poem, ‘‘Burnt Norton,’’ that he had composed in 1935 could be extended into a suite of poems centered on various geographical locations that would act as the compass points of a whole life. ‘‘Burnt Norton’’ defined a moment of visionary innocence both in and out of time.

As a student, Eliot simply accommodated himself to the situation of thought which he inherited, though later he came to see the separation Works 39 of thought and feeling, what he called the ‘‘dissociation of sensibility,’’ as disastrous for the mind of Europe. But when young, his philosophical studies led him in the direction of the rationalist systematizing of Western metaphysics known as Idealism. Pursuit of the Ideal and of the twin concept of the Absolute brought Eliot to the limits of the knowable which, in turn, led inevitably to the need to violate the boundary that separates philosophy from the spiritual world, the boundary that separates ratiocination from modes of apprehension beyond language and logic.

Poetry, for Eliot, was the medium in which he worked out the practical consequences of action and belief. It was the discursive space where the messiness of life came up hard against ideals and concepts. The emphasis was on the mess and less on the formal elegance of ideas. It was in his prose that his conceptual imagination was most evident. Contexts 29 Culture and society Although formally trained in philosophy, Eliot’s more natural intellectual bent was toward what we would now call cultural criticism.

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