chapter  11
Adam Unparadised
Pages 39

It is after all perverse of the modern reader to affect distaste at Milton’s dependence on naïve materials; he ought to be properly conditioned to their use in art, not only by certain books of prime importance to him, but by the force of the whole Romantic tradition which always worshipped the primitive and became very explicit about the cult long before the end of the last century. It is to be studied anywhere from Herder to Nietzsche and Cassirer, from Rousseau to Jung, from Wordsworth to Pound; and when Gilbert Murray said that ‘for full mental health the channels between primitive and sophisticated must be kept open’ he spoke not only for a group of Cambridge scholars but for everybody. If there is one paramount requirement for major modern literature, it is that it should have a ‘naïve’ topic; that it should have found its myth; for only thus can everything be got in, and the whole truth presented, which would, under the conditions of sophisticated discourse, merely rattle endlessly on. So Mr. Eliot, with Ulysses in mind, spoke of myth as ‘a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history’; and Mr. Forster refers to the artist’s power to do this as ‘love’, the power that can ‘keep thought out’.