a recently found, previously unpublished essay by T. S. Eliot

Ef4f809e-40fc-11e5_1169195hT. S. Eliot at The Times Literary Supplement:

In his little book on Nathaniel Hawthorne, published many years ago, Henry James has the following significant sentences:

“The charm [of Hawthorne’s slighter pieces of fiction] is that they are glimpses of a great field, of the whole deep mystery of man’s soul and conscience. They are moral, and their interest is moral; they deal with something more than the mere accidents and conventionalities, the surface occurrences of life. The fine thing in Hawthorne is that he cared for the deeper psychology, and that, in his way, he tried to become familiar with it.”

The interest of this passage lies in its double application: it is true of Hawthorne, it is as true or truer of James himself. “They are moral, and their interest is moral”; this is the truth about all of James’s long series of novels and stories; a series of novels and stories which fell, accordingly, exactly upon the generations least qualified to appreciate the “moral interest”. Note the term “deeper psychology”. James’s book on Hawthorne was published in 1879. “Psychology” had not then reached the meaning of to-day, or if it had the meaning had not reached Henry James. One could not use the phrase now without surrounding it with a whole commentary of exposition and defence. But one feels that it is right; and that our contemporary novelists, under the influence of the shallower psychology by which we are all now affected, have missed that deeper psychology which was the subject of Henry James’s study.

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