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Their respective essays Tradition And The Individual Talent and Modern Fiction serve only to underline the tremendous difference in the views of Eliot and Woolf with regard to literary tradition and the role of the artist Eliot sees it as being incumbent upon the artist to not just be aware but to have studied the whole historical tradition of poetry In his development of this theme there maybe seen to be links in his basic philosophy and that of the Romantics insofar as he sees the poet as a vessel or channel through which to put it cruisely inspiration passes If there is to be any element of continuity which of earlier writing the more effective his improduct and more closely linked to the tradition Eliot goes on to claim the necessity of a tradition in literary criticism aswell No poet no artist of any art has his complete meaning alone His significance his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists You cannot value him alone you must set him for contrast and comparison among the dead I mean this as a principle of aesthetic not merely historical criticism He goes on to analogise the poetic process to the scientific experiment Whilst it is tempting to see this as a negation of the creative process Eliots later remarks lead us irresistibly to think in terms of the earlier alchemists and their somewhat romantic mystical aura rather than some cold clinical experiment This attitude again presupposes the poet in the role of a catalyst Woolfs ideas in Modern Fiction are the antithesis of those of Eliot She begins by suggesting it is difficult not to take it for granted that the modern practice of the art is somehow an improvement upon the old Perhaps more significant is the analogical language that she uses linking the creative literary process to that of making motor cars It may be argued that this
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