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Krasavchenko T.N. “And time future contained in time past”: British Modernist Poetry from T.S. Eliot to Ted Hughes. Studia Litterarum, 2017, vol. 2, no 3, pp. 74–81. (In Russ.) DOI:10.22455/2500-4247-2017-2-3-74-81

Author: T.N. Krasavchenko
Information about the author:

Tatiana N. Krasavchenko, DSc in Philology, Leading Research Fellow, Institute of Social Sciences Information (INION) of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Nakhimovsky av. 51/21, 117997 Moscow, Russia. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Received: April 10, 2017
Published: September 25, 2017
Issue: 2017 Vol. 2, №3
Department: World Literature
Pages: 74-81

UDK: 821.111
BBK: 83.3(4Вел)
Keywords: British poetry, modernism, T.S. Eliot, Ted Hughes, mainstream, traditionalism, postmodernism.


It seems that T.S. Eliot (1888–1965) and Ted Hughes (1930–1998) are poets of different individual talents and epochs. Hughes, a poet of the second half of the 20 th century, concentrated on the conflict between Nature and the human being destroying Nature and thus preparing the end of the humanity. T.S. Eliot was a poet of urban civilization, a reformer of the Anglophone modernist poetry. In his days, the “poetry of Nature” rooted in the pastoral poetry of the 17 th –18 th centuries and in Romanticism, existed but only at the margins of mainstream poetic trends. Nevertheless, one can find it even in Eliot’s poetry, particularly in his Landscapes — poems written at the beginning of the 1930s. Also, both Eliot and Hughes were modernists. Eliot standing at the beginning of modernism, Hughes at its end; though the latter lived in the time of postmodernism, he was not a postmodernist himself since he was not engaged in the deconstruction and fragmentation of the “world model.” Like Eliot, he was a poet with integral Weltanschauung and a bright individual talent. Like Eliot, he was a traditionalist, though
Eliot being an American was a “conscious traditionalist,” while Hughes, an Englishman, was most likely a “born” traditionalist: instead of deconstructing tradition, he was bearing on it. His “great tradition” included Shakespeare, Blake, Coleridge, Kipling, Graves, and Dylan Thomas. Both Eliot and Hughes are poets of eschatological trend and mythologists. However, one will not find Eliot among the authorities enlisted by Hughes in his “great tradition.” In the time of Hughes, Eliot was rejected due to the regular change of mainstreams trends. British poetry in the second half of the 20 th century is “tired” of urban poetry, of “Nature denial,” so it comes back to its track, and the motives
that existed in Eliot’s poetry only in the background are now brought to the forefront.


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2 Krasavchenko T.N. Esteticheskoye perezhivaniye pogranichnoy epokhi v Anglii i Rossii: traditsionalism i futurism [Aesthetic experience of a borderline epoch in England and Russia: traditionalism and futurism]. Kanuni I rubezhi. Tipi pogranichnikh epokh — tipipogranichnogo soznaniya: v 2 ch. [Eves and boundaries. Types of borderline epochs —types of borderline consciousness: in 2 parts], ed. by V.B. Zemskov. Moscow, IMLI RAS Publ., 2002, part II, pp. 328–337. (In Russ.)
3 Eliot T.S. Izbrannaia poeziia. Poemy, lirika, dramaticheskaia poeziia [Selected Poetry. Poems, lyrics, dramatic poetry], sel. and edited by L. Arinshtein, S. Stepanov. St. Petersburg, Severo-Zapad Publ., 1994. 446 p. (In Russ.)
4 Eliot T.S. Four Quartets. Available at: (Accessed 10 April 2017). (In English)
5 Hughes T. Selected Poems 1957–1981. London, Boston, Faber and Faber, 1982. 238 p. (In English)