A Critique of Time in Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Iqbal and T. S. Eliot

A Critique of Time in Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Iqbal and T. S. Eliot

Islam and the West

A Critique of Time in Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Iqbal and T. S. Eliot

Author(s): Asloob Ahmad Ansari

Reviewed by: Kunwar Mohammad Yusuf Amin, Aligarh Muslim University, India

 

Review

Asloob Ahmad Ansari, probably the only non-Western critic to be hailed as ‘a leading Blake scholar’ by Kathleen Raine and Seyyed Hossein Nasr and as a ‘contributor to the whole Romantic period’ by Northrop Frye, has brought out a book on Time in world poetry on his eighty-fifth birthday. His unique criticism, combining overt Revelation-based Metaphysics and an objective, ‘positivistic’ delving into literary masterpieces, finds full play in it.

All great poets have interrogated Time, chiefly to transcend it and arrive at immortality. Obviously, this immortality is not related to modern medicine’s misconceived quest for the abolition of corporeal death, for even Prophets die in this world. In the Shakespearian sonnets, Time is routed by Platonic love, as expressed in the elevated consciousness of the ‘realized’ individual and as successfully portrayed in great poetry. True love, unmasked in the heart by personal devotion and by great poetry, exists in it and thus brings to life levels of the immutable Being that towers above Time into Eternity.

Wordsworth, in The Prelude and very differently, appeals for ‘enlivening’, i.e. focusing and interpreting the most complete reflections of Ultimate Reality in worldly experience, by fusing one’s most significant memories (his celebrated ‘spots of time’) with present perceptions and imaginations, the latter extending both horizontally into the future and vertically into the subtle realm. The resultant realization of Ultimate Reality, or Reality, stabilizes man’s ever-dying ‘Becoming’.


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