T . S . Eliot's Theory of Depersonalization

The theory of depersonalization or impersonality is T.S.Eliot’s remarkable gift in criticism. He holds that the poet and the poem are two separate things. Eliot explains his theory in two phases; “the relation of the poet to the past,” and “the relation of the poem to its author.’

As for the first phase, he says that the past is never dead; it lives in the present. And if we approach a poet with an open mind, “We shall often find that not only the best, but the most individual parts of his work may be those in which the dead poets, his ancestors, assert their immortality most vigorously.” Again if he is a great poet, he alters his work in no small scale. So what is a sort of flowing out and in. But while in giving he asserts his individuality, in taking he has to repress it. The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.” According to him it is the duty of the poet to discard the touch of personality in his work: and as a result a new form will come out from the fusion of the past and the present.

This brings the second aspect of his theory of depersonalization in which Eliot shows that a poet’s greatness does’ lie in putting his personality into his work. A poet may have personal liking, disliking or may fell interested in anything, but he should not put it into his poetry. Rather a poet should have varied feelings which are at liberty and therefore will enter into new combinations.

It is not necessary that these feelings will be his own rather those of others will also do. For his mind is just like a catalyst that combines them into a new shape ad remains unaffected at a time. Of course, it may partly use of the poet’s on experience. “but the more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers. There may be impressions and experiences that are grave concern for a man, but they should not take any place in the poetry.

So, what comes is that “Poetry is not a turning case of emotion, but an escape from emotion. It is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality.” So the poem, not the poet, is the focal point of “honest criticism and sensitive appreciation.’