Writing without too much hope.

“I am not myself very much concerned with the question of influence, or with those publicists who have impressed their names upon the public by catching the morning tide and rowing very fast in the direction in which the current was flowing; but rather that there should always be a few writers preoccupied in penetrating to the core of the matter, in trying to arrive at the truth and to set it forth, without too much hope, without ambition to alter the immediate course of affairs, and without being downcast or defeated when nothing appears to ensue.”

-T.S. Eliot

10 thoughts on “Writing without too much hope.

  1. Not sure what to say about this quote of T.S. Eliot’s, except to say that it gives me hope in knowing there are writers out there

    “preoccupied in penetrating to the core of the matter, in trying to arrive at the truth and to set it forth, without too much hope, without ambition to alter the immediate course of affairs, and without being downcast or defeated when nothing appears to ensue.”

    Many thanks, Gretchen!

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  2. This is one of my favorite quotations from Eliot. I’ve been trying to surface the words I’ve read elsewhere that express the same thoughts differently, but I’ve had no success yet. I’ll keep pondering.

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    1. Good grief. That’s all it took to surface it, and it turns out it was the words of Eliot himself I was trying to find — from “East Coker.”

      So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—
      Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres
      Trying to use words, and every attempt
      Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
      Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
      For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
      One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
      Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
      With shabby equipment always deteriorating
      In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
      Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
      By strength and submission, has already been discovered
      Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
      To emulate—but there is no competition—
      There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
      And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
      That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
      For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know the reference for this quote, but as an earlier commenter shared, the idea comes out in his poetry as well. Eliot wrote a whole book titled Christianity and Culture, which I would like to read, and in which I would no doubt find many more interesting thoughts.

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