Dodds applied the psychological theories of the early 20th century to understanding Greek literature. Give us a précis of the theory of literary evolution you developed in that book. I gave it up because of the ambivalence I began to develop towards him.If I live long enough, I may go back to the manuscript, which is yellowing up in the attic.
Of all the books you’ve written, arguably made the boldest imprint on the common reader.
I suppose it is true that, facing the decline of a literate audience and desperately trying to battle for canonical standards, my books that have had the widest direct impact were the ones that I addressed to “the common reader” – which was [Samuel] Johnson’s great designation of what a reader should be.
I’m interested in the books that have influenced me and will go on influencing me – as I work and teach and write – until I die.
Those books include , which still has an ongoing influence on me, particularly in my study of Yeats, Hart Crane and other great poets. I like to say, ‘There is no God but God and his name is William Shakespeare.’” was a concept, as Dodds makes beautifully clear, having to do with the creative forces in the individual, which are deeper and more pervasive than what you might want to call the mere conscious.
I do not give in to political considerations, however they mask themselves. I’ve been prophesying like Jeremiah since 1968, warning the profession that it was destroying itself. There are fewer and fewer people teaching English, or any other kind of literature, in American universities.
All this business about gender, social class, sexual orientation and skin pigmentation is nonsense. Students don’t wish to study garbage and that’s all they’re offered. In fact, I’m tired of this polemic so let us change the subject.I became a professor of the humanities, a department of one.I have been the pariah of the profession for the last 45 years.By his choice, he made it the vehicle for poets who come after him, Boccaccio and Petrarch down through Leopardi and Ungaretti.Without Dante, the language that we all call Italian would not have happened.I prefer Curtius on Dante to the discussion of Dante by any other critic, because he sees that Dante is creating a myth, or even a gnosis, of his own.Ultimately, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas are nowhere near as important as Dante.The later work overturns an earlier work in order to get free of it.The new poem, new story, new drama or new novel is a creative misreading of the work that engendered it. This is, I think, the finest work of literary scholarship in my time, by the great German philologist Ernst Robert Curtius.Though it’s not the unconscious in the Freudian sense, the is the creative spirit.It is, as [Ralph Waldo] Emerson called it, “the God within”. And for many, many years I was writing a vast commentary on Freud called .