T.S.ELIOT—AN EX-MID ASPIRES TO BE EUROPEAN. In a post in the first six weeks of this blog, I wrote about how Calvin Trillin classified Gerald Ford as the kind of ex-Midwesterner who would have been embarrassed if anybody thought he had gone Eastern. (I acknowledged that I am the Gerald Ford kind of Ex-Mid.) Trillin also classified Thomas Dewey as the kind of ex-Midwesterner who didn’t want anybody to think of him as a Midwesterner.
I argued here that T.S. Eliot was “perhaps the archetype of the Thomas Dewey kind of ex-Midwesterner”. At the conclusion of that post, I said: “I used to say that the high point of Eliot’s life was being buried in Westminster Abbey.” In Adam Kirsch’s review in the TLS (March 11) of THE POEMS OF T.S.ELIOT: THE ANNOTATED TEXT, edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue, Kirsch quotes Eliot in a 1918 essay on Henry James:
“…it is the final perfection, the consummation of an American to become, not an Englishman, but a European—something no born European can become.”