T. S. Eliot and Indic Traditions: A Study in Poetry and Belief

T. S. Eliot’s allusions to Indic philosophy in several poems - from the Sanskrit ending of The Waste Land to the ‘What Krishna meant’ section of Four Quartets - have puzzled and intrigued readers since the poems first appeared. In T. S. Eliot and Indic Traditions, Professor Cleo McNelly Kearns places Eliot’s lifelong interest in Indic philosophy and religion in the context of his concomitant studies in Western philosophy and his views on literary theory and poetic practice. The author establishes the depth and extent of his knowledge not only of Sanskrit and Pali texts but also of the scholarly tradition through which they were interpreted in the West. She explores as well Eliot’s keen sense of the important distinctions between specific schools of thought. Kearns concludes that Eliot was less interested in synthesizing various traditions than in comparing texts and traditions for what he called ‘the difference they can make to one another’.


Preface; Acknowledgments; List of abbreviations; Part I. Sources and Traditions: 1. Tradition and the individual reader; 2. Hindu traditions; 3. Buddhist traditions; Part II. Communities of Interpretation: 4. Philosophical issues; 5. Religious points of view; 6. Literary influences; Part III. Metaphysics and Wisdom: 7. Metaphysics in The Waste Land; 8. Wisdom in Four Quartets; Index.