Despite a wealth of new primary-source publications and archival discoveries, many scholars persist in the belief that midcentury poets like Randall Jarrell rejected their modernist predecessors in a quest for originality and novelty. This article demonstrates, on the contrary, Jarrell’s underestimated and enduring creative debt to T. S. Eliot by reconstructing, for the first time, a book-length essay that he planned to write about Eliot but abandoned. The article shows that Jarrell regarded Eliot’s work as the result of a psychological struggle with “obsessional neurosis,” and it reveals the logic and evidence that Jarrell planned to use to argue this claim. It concludes by showing that Jarrell himself adapted aspects of Eliot’s obsessional style in his poetry and hoped to follow them to a different end.

You do not currently have access to this content.