The Four Quartets

“Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future, And time future contained in time past. If all time is eternally present All time is unredeemable.” -T. S. Eliot ‘The Four Quartets’

//The influence of Beethoven on Eliot’s Four Quartets is mediated by Wagner and Schopenhauer and relates fundamentally to the philosopher’s understanding of instrumental music as expressing a universalised and abstract emotion. Schopenhauer’s aesthetics are intimately connected with Wagner’s treatment of the idea of absolute music — a discussion which begins in his early prose writings and culminates in his essay “Beethoven” (1870). At the origin of Wagner’s thinking about absolute music is a striking metaphor: that of Beethoven as Columbus, exploring the sea of absolute music. This metaphor can be found at the heart of Four Quartets, powerfully connecting Eliot’s poem with Beethovenian music and with a Schopenhauerian aesthetics that understands this music as inhabiting a realm beyond human affect and desire.//

 

 

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