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Word for the Wise September 26, 2006 Broadcast Topic: The Objective Correlative

Today we mark the 1888 birth of Thomas Stearns Eliot, the American-born poet who grew up to become a British citizen and Nobel Prize winning poet, critic, and playwright. (来源:英语学习门户网站EnglishCN.com)

The words of T.S.Eliot remain beloved more than four decades after his death. The author of The Waste Land, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, and Hollow Men (among others) is considered one of the most influential poets of the last century: he is also recognized for his criticism and is credited with coming up with the literary concept known as the objective correlative. Eliot did not invent that actual phrase, however; he is believed to have picked it up from either George Santayana or Washington Allston.

The objective correlative names something (such as a situation, a chain of events, or a set of objects) that symbolizes or objectifies a particular emotion and that may be used in creative writing to evoke a desired emotional response in the reader. According to Eliot, the only way a writer can express emotion in the form of art is by identifying the proper objective correlative.

Although that assertion is nowadays considered a bit prescriptive, the theory — like Eliot抯 poetry — has lasted.

 
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