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This review is taken from PN Review 75, Volume 17 Number 1, September - October 1990.

INTERPRETATIONS Gareth Reeves, T.S.Eliot: A Virgilian Poet (Macmillan)

One of the most alarming features about what is lightly called 'going into Europe' is the extent to which public arguments are in the hands of people who, however well versed in the political and technical worries of the moment, know little about the more deep-seated differences - or, consequently, about the more deep-seated similarities - between the western countries. Yet a few more bits of paper, and a few more economic and administrative arrangements, amount to no more than the tiniest of adjustments to the evolutions of the last two or three thousand years. The past is not erased; it is in our institutions and in our language, and in our bones.

It may seem odd to point to a book about an expatriate American as a starting point for thinking afresh about our present difficulties, and no doubt it is not a way for everyone. But those who know enough of one or more European languages to have an entrée into foreign literatures, or who find something more than sunshine in the south, and all who are appalled by the casual treatment of Latin in our system of education, will find something to interest them here. Gareth Reeves has written a book which is not merely one more addition to the already over-sized literature of Eliot criticism but one which has a bearing on the way we think about Europe.

Naturally his is a somewhat specialist approach. Reeves has been pondering his subject ...


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