Interpretations of Poetry and Religion, Critical Edition
Interpretations of Poetry and Religion is the third volume in a new critical edition of the complete works of George Santayana that restores Santayana's original text and provides important new scholarly information.
Published in the spring of 1900, Interpretations of Poetry and Religion was George Santayana's first book of critical prose. It developed his view that "poetry is called religion when it intervenes in life, and religion, when it merely supervenes upon life, is seen to be nothing but poetry." This statement and the point of view it espoused contributed significantly to the debate between science and religion at the turn of the century, and its eloquence and clearsightedness continue to have an impact on current discussions about the nature of religion.
Interpretations of Poetry and Religion affronted Santayana's peers with its assault on literary and religious pieties of the cultivated classes. William James called its philosophy of harmonious and integral ideal systems nothing less than "a perfection of rottenness." In his insightful introductory essay, Joel Porte observes that while Santayana's theory of correlative objects, his espousal of the "ideal"—the normal human affinity for abstraction—and exaltation of the imagination may have offended some at Harvard, these ideas had a significant influence on other Harvard scholars T.S. Eliot and Santayana's "truest disciple," Wallace Stevens.