Thursday, October 18, 2007

New isn't neo.

A faithful correspondent queries what I mean by "new." Partly what Samuel Johnson said of the ideas (NOT the language) - the "truths" of Paradise Lost: "Being therefore not new they raise no unaccustomed emotion in the mind: what we knew before we cannot learn; what is not unexpected cannot surprise."

More practically, I mean this: when Eliot's poems, and Pound's appeared, were they "new," were they surprising? Yes.

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