Louis CK never asked us to admire him

T.S. Eliot was an anti-Semite who thought it a matter of public urgency to warn that the threat to any good society was “any large number of free-thinking Jews.” He first uttered these words in 1933, an unlucky year for Jews of any cognitive disposition, in a lecture at the University of Virginia. He then saw fit to print them in “After Strange Gods.” Yet none of that stopped a generation of mostly Jewish radicals orbiting Partisan Review from explaining how his poems represented a welcome seismic shift in literature and why this was so.

The late Christopher Hitchens once remarked of Eliot’s mentor (and noted Fascist and misogynist) Ezra Pound that it “is still theoretically possible for a fascist crank to be a good poet, but this particular fascist crank was not.” In notable contrast, when England’s finest postwar poet Philip Larkin died in 1985, and his correspondence and juvenilia — filled as they were with casual bigotry and not-so-casual misogyny — were published, the ensuing controversy was not about how to reconcile Larkin’s personal vices with his creative virtues, but of denying the latter altogether.