So it helps with the embryology, but in fact it can get in the way of the
reading of the poem
by limiting the creative experience just to the orinial prompting
----- Original Message -----
From: "Nancy Gish" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, August 31, 2006 10:30 AM
Subject: Re: Eliot and Biography
> Diana's point is very important, and it takes on added significance that
> according to Valerie Eliot, "in fact he had met the author (when and
> where is not known), and his description of the sledding, for example,
> was taken verbatim from a conversation he had with this neice and
> confidante of the Austrian Empress Elizabeth."
> When verbatim conversations of actual people and events are placed in a
> poem, clearly biography is significant. Moreover, Eliot was in Germany
> when WWI started, listened to tales of trench warfare from his
> brother-in-law Maurice, and wrote many many letters about the deeply
> disturbing impact of that War and the difficulties of the Home Front.
> All of that plays into the world he sees in TWL. It also connects his
> use of Hesse and his admiration for Hesse to his own experience.
> >>> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 08/31/06 11:48 AM >>>
> Peter wrote:
> "It is interesting to know that Marie of TWL perhaps reflects an actual
> person, but what relevance is that to the poem as a whole, other than,
> perhaps, that other parts of the poem reflect related actual elements of
> life. Interesting, but so what?"
> Peter, it is more than interesting that Marie is certainly Marie,
> Countess Larisch, and that her story illustrates not only the state of
> the aristocracy in Europe during the war years but the migrations of
> refugees it caused, both themes in TWL In addition, Eliot quotes her
> speaking in her native language, not in translation. The sampling of
> untranslated languages in the poem is a somewhat separate issue, but in
> this instance it brings home the Countess's refugee status in a concrete
> More about her can be found at
> http://world.std.com/~raparker/exploring/thewasteland/exmarie.html if
> this excerpt does not suffice.
> "Marie's life took a turn for the worst in January 1889 when Archduke
> Rudolph, who was married to Princess Stephanie (the daughter of Leopold
> II of Belgium) was found dead at Mayerling, a hunting lodge not far from
> Vienna. The body of the archduke, the heir to the Austrian Empire, was
> found with the body of Marie (Mary) Vetsera, a baroness who was his
> mistress (see Mayerling below.) Even by her own accounts the Countess
> had been serving as a go-between for Rudolph and Mary, although, in her
> books, she wrote that she was at times duped and at other times her
> good-nature was taken advantage of. Despite this, when the affair came
> to its bloody end she suffered the wrath of the imperial family and
> became the disgrace of Europe.
> During World War I the Countess underwent six months training and served
> as a Red Cross supervisor in charge of hospital trains. Her son Otto was
> called to service in the last year of the war until he was gassed and
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