Eliot’s historicism is complicated because his rm sense that the human imagination is a product of particular stages in the history of culture was accompanied by the sense – no less rm – that truly signi cant works of art outlived their original occasion to join in the perpetual present of a living tradition. Something similar might be true of critical concepts too. Eliot said: ‘each generation, like each individual, brings to the contemplation of art its own categories of appreciation, makes its own demands upon art, and has its own uses for art’;1 but he insisted too, with a Burkean emphasis, that no generation or individual could ever invent itself afresh, and those de ning ‘categories of appreciation’ are most likely to be inheritances from a preceding generation, but are now put to new and distinct work under the in uence of the di erent demands and uses prompted by what he elsewhere called ‘the present problems of art’.2