VIEWSnREALISM AND THE SPIRIT by Eugene lonesconThe following is the text ofM. lonesco’s address atnthe 198S IngeisoU Prizes Awards Banquet:nIam extremely proud and honored to hae been awardednthe very prestigious T. S. Ehot Prize, which has beenngien to such persons as Jorge Luis Borges and the novehstnAnthony Powell, artists who exemplify the prime alues ofnthe humanist tradihon.nSince I wonder whether I am really worthy of this prize,nand whether I deserve to be associated with personalities asnpowerful of those of my predecessors, it is with somentrepidation that I appear here before you. Still, though Inmay not judge myself as being quite up to their measure,nthe fact that the jury of The Ingersoll Foundation has beennkind enough to confer The T. S. Eliot Prize on me reassuresnme about the character or the alue of what I have donenpersonally.nSince you know T.S. Eliot, ladies and gentlemen, andnThis address was translated into English by ProfessornNorman Spector of Northwestern University. Readers whonwish to obtain a copy of the original French text shouldnsend $1.50 to The Ingersoll Foundation, 934 N. MainnSt., Rockford,IL 61103.n241 CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnnnknow him far better than I, I should just like to recall a fewnof the fundamental points in his life, or rather his work, inncommemoration.nAfter his studies at the Sorbonne and Oxford, T.S. Eliotntook the path of devoting himself enhrely to literature, andnto literature of the highest order. With the very first work henproduced, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” in 1917,nhe broke with the literary tradition of the 19th century. Henbecame the friend of Ezra Pound, and it was through Poundnthat he was introduced to the new Italian poetry, while, asnwe know, T.E. Hulme shaped his critical perspectie.nPierre Leyris, who translated his works into French,nwould later say of The Waste Land, which marks thensummit of his poetic creation, that it was a multidimensionalnfresco, in which the presence of the author is as palpablenas that of Courbet in The Painter’s Studio.nEliot’s adherence to the royalist cause was accompaniednby his espousal of classic values, and in works that followednhe is visibly concerned with the relation between appearancenand that spiritual reality whose themes are penitencenand redemption. The theme of redemption in time and theninspiration proided by the Bible are, indeed, present in allnhis subsequent works.nI regret that my ignorance of English has kept me from andeeper knowledge of the work of this great mystic poet.nNevertheless, personally and in spirit, I feel myself erynclose to him, as I would to an older brother, a mightynforebear in the art of writing for the stage.nIt is, in point of fact, Eliot’s dramatic work that moves menmost profoundly and, along with other works, it is his greatnmasterpiece. Murder in the Cathedral, that I remembernmost fundamentally and intensely. This play of Eliot’snmade him the creator of an avant-garde. Like all truenavant-garde works, it rediscovered and reaffirmed the bondsnof the most ancient of traditions. It was not so much thenreintroduction into this modern tragedy of the antiquenchorus, a feature that may appear somewhat formal, thatnwon my absolute admiration, as it was the profoundnspirituality oi Murder in the Cathedral. That is, the idea ofnsacrifice—for the honor of a cause that is God against king,nGod against political power. Sacrifice, as was the poet’snthought, saves souls: the protagonist of the play, ThomasnBecket, offers himself up to death, willingly, gladly. Henmakes the choice of remaining what he is, here on thisnearth, and for all eternity, of finding life in eternity here onnearth, and from this moment forward.nIn contrast to those modern dramas that go astray withnminor themes such as the futility of politics, ideology, loe,nmoney—that is, with diversions, whether slight or weightyn— Eliot sticks to what is essential. That is, to man’s destin,n