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TSE  March 2001

TSE March 2001

Subject:

RE: Stetson in The Waste Land

From:

Meyer Robert K GS-9 99 CES/CECT <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 28 Mar 2001 12:14:45 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (393 lines)

Thanks Steve. This is really interesting & greatly bolsters a Verdenal
connection to TWL. When I first read The Golden Bough, I was struck by all
the references to the Hittite religion of ancient Turkey (something about
which I knew little if anything).

Robert

-----Original Message-----
From: [log in to unmask] [SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2001 6:06 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Stetson in The Waste Land

Rick wrote:

> > Donald Childs, "Stetson in The Waste Land," Essays in
Criticism," April,
> > 1988.
> >
> > Regards,
> > Rick Parker


And Pat wrote:

> What does he say in this regard, exactly? Or how does he answer
the
question
> of where he got the information?
>
> pat


Pat: You asked what Childs said about Gallipoli. I've scanned in
several
pages from the article as well as some of the footnotes. I hope this

information is of use.

-- Steve --

==============================
>From "Stetson in The Waste Land" by Donald J. Childs, Essays in
Criticism,
April 1988, p 131-148. I've scanned in the footnotes that appear
within the
quoted passages, and have included the footnotes at the end of this
post.
==================================


-- beginning of quoted passages --


That Eliot should have associated the Australians with the
fighting in the
Dardanelles is not surprising. The newspapers of 1915 were full of
reports
about the incredible fortitude, ingenuity, and heroism of the Anzac
troops.
The headlines in The Times from April 25th, 1915 (the day the
invasion of the
Gallipoli peninsula began), to January of 1916 (when the Allies
evacuated the
beaches) heaped praise upon the Australians. Typical headlines ran
as
follows: `At grips with the Turks: heroic Australians', `Making
history in
the Straits: the famous charge of the Australians: terror of the
bayonet',
and `The Gallipoli landing: heroism at the six beaches' . 21

London's celebration on April 25th, 1916, of the first
anniversary of the
invasion of Gallipoli reinforced the British tendency to associate
the
Australian soldiers with Gallipoli. On this day, 2,000 Anzac troops
(and only
Anzac troops) marched through the streets of London-across Waterloo
Bridge,
along the Strand to Charing Cross, and then along Whitehall to
Westminster
Abbey -encouraged by the cheers of great crowds lining the streets.
The Times
reported the next day that `At quarter past ten a thousand of the
Australian
troops came swinging over Waterloo Bridge in column of four'. The
crowds were
greater than any `since the Coronation of King George'. Along the
way, `there
were scenes of enthusiasm such as no previous day during the war had

witnessed . . . the songs of the soldiers were caught up and
repeated'. Are
the marching soldiers and the crowds of spectators linked to the
lines
preceding the introduction of Stetson: `A crowd flowed over London
Bridge, so
many,/I had not thought death had undone so many' (CPP 62)? Are the
singing
soldiers the source of the mysterious message from Sydney,
Australia? And was
the Australian hat a part of the experience? The Manchester Guardian
pointed
to the hats, implying that the Anzac headgear was itself worth
celebrating:
`They [the Anzacs] have been idolised with a cheery
whole-heartedness that
would have been striking [even] if Londoners had never seen an
emu-feathered
hat or a New Zealand slouch before'. 22 In the system of
signification I am
tracing, then, Stetson, Mrs. Porter, and all things Australian lead
to
Gallipoli.

Why? Because reference to Gallipoli is Eliot's way of referring
to Jean
Verdenal . . .

[Verdenal's military citation for heroism and self-sacrifice]
probably refers
to the aftermath of the First Battle of Krithia on April 28th: a
battle
fought by the combined Allied force. The French certainly played
their part,
advancing half a mile (no mean feat in trench warfare) after a day
of heavy
fighting. The British, Anzacs, and French spent the next two days
straightening the line and sorting out the confused battalions. The
wounded
were tended on the night of April 28th, during which a storm blew in
to make
the loading and unloading of ships very difficult, for the piers and
jetties
were still under construction. It was probably this battle and this
weather
that provided the context for Verdenal's heroism.

On May 1st, however, the Turkish forces began an assault upon the
Allies
at 10 pm. The bombardment and assault were described by one observer
as `hell
let loose upon earth'. 28 The French forces apparently broke under
this
relentless attack, and were overrun by the Turks until Allied
reinforcements
arrived to fill the breach in the trenches. The Allies mounted a
counter-attack at 10 am on May 2nd, but by evening the Turks and
Allies were
back in their original trenches. In the end, the French `suffered
over 2,000
casualties'. 29 In fact, French grave-diggers could not bury all
those who
had fallen: `The French, finding the ground. too hard, or perhaps
the task
too great, slung some bodies over the cliffs into the swift-flowing
Dardanelles'. 30 One of the casualties, I assume, and perhaps one of
those
thrown into the Dardanelles, was Jean Verdenal, for another entry in
the
latter's war record indicates that he was `Killed by the enemy on
the 2nd May
1915 in the Dardanelles'.

Some such information as this would presumably have been
available to
Eliot either through conversations with Gallipoli veterans or
through
conversations with friends of Verdenal such as Schlemmer. In any
event, we
know that Eliot had learned of Verdenal's death by January, 1916. 31
As early
as the spring of 1916, then (with the first celebration of Anzac Day

following soon after the news of Verdenal's death), we find the
possibility
of a conjunction in Eliot's experience of Gallipoli, Australia, and
Verdenal.
By 1921, I suggest, the connection in Eliot's mind between Jean
Verdenal and
Gallipoli, on the one hand, and between Stetson and Mrs. Porter and
Gallipoli, on the other, was strong enough to make Verdenal the
ultimate
referent of the Australian images in The Waste Land. But what
brought the
Australians and the Dardanelles Campaign back to mind in 1921 as
Eliot
actually began to compose the poem?

In general, the Dardanelles Campaign became infamous as an
example of
World War I folly. The ill-conceived assault was a disaster. The
objective-to
achieve control of the Dardanelles straits and so aid Russia by
knocking the
Turks out of the war -was never close to being realized, and
casualty figures
were staggering:

-----------
In the army's endeavour to reach the narrows over four hundred
thousand
British troops were landed on the peninsula; over two hundred
thousand of
these troops became casualties . . . The exertions of these troops
were
assisted by a French army -chiefly consisting of African
contingents-of
seventy-nine thousand men, more than half of whom became casualties.
In the
attempt to achieve this five-mile advance the Allies flung nearly
half a
million men on the Peninsula, and sustained over a quarter of a
million
casualties. At the end of eight months they were not in occupation
of a
single position of the least tactical importance; and the survivors
were
hazardously withdrawn. 32
------------

The waste of life at Gallipoli, therefore, was a part of everyone's
memory of
the war - and so a poem pretending to be rooted in the collapse of
European
civilization might well look back to Gallipoli for one of its
`broken images'.

For Eliot, of course, Gallipoli was the action in which his
friend had
died -and so there was always an intimate personal dimension to his
awareness
of the futility of war. Perhaps the fact that Anzac Day was April
25th was
one of the reasons why `April is the cruellest month'. If, as seems
likely,
Eliot did not know the exact date of Verdenal's death, he might well
have
associated it with the beginning of the invasion of Gallipoli. Anzac
Day,
1921, may have been enough of a spur to his memory and desire to
launch into
The Waste Land the Australian images that lead to Gallipoli and
Verdenal.
Valerie Eliot, however, has revealed that Eliot was thinking about
the long
poem that would become The Waste Land as early as 1919. And in the
spring of
1919, there was an Anzac Day celebration that Eliot may well have
witnessed.
The celebration of 1919 was special, for it was London's last chance
to
salute the Anzac troops before they returned to New Zealand and
Australia.
The parade was even bigger than the one in 1916. Once more, of
course, the
Anzac headgear caught everyone's eye. After noting that the
soldiers' fixed
bayonettes added a picturesque touch to the parade, The Times added
that `So
undoubtedly did their slouch hats':

-----------
It is an extraordinarily romantic headdress. If it lacks a little,
perhaps,
of formal military smartness it has dashing, almost buccaneering,
air which
is all its own. To those who live in cities there is something of
the call of
the wild about it; it suggests great empty spaces, a free life under
open
skies and in young countries. And the men under the big hats looked
gorgeously hard and fit.
----------------

Eliot was in London in 1919, beginning his third year of
employment in the
Colonial and Foreign Department of Lloyd's Bank, working in the
office at 17
Cornhill. On Friday, April 25th, 5,000 Anzac troops paraded through
London to
celebrate for the last time the Anzac contribution to the war
effort. They
paraded past Australia House and then up Queen Victoria Street,
marching past
the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House before proceeding around the
intersection
of Queen Victoria Street, King William Street, Lombard Street,
Cornhill, and
Threadneedle Street and marching away up Princes Street. Eliot was
working in
this very area, not far from the Mansion House and the Royal
Exchange-focal
points for the parade's climax. The Times reported events as
follows:

--------------
The City of London clearly did not intend that business should come
before
pleasure yesterday - the pleasure of welcoming the Australians. The
troops
were due at the Mansion House at 11.30, and long before that the
pavements
were almost solid with people, only a tiny little streamlet of those
still
bent on business being able to pass slowly along. Every window was
full, and
there was not an inch of space left on the roof of the Royal
Exchange.

At about 11 there was a sound of whirring and humming, and two big
aeroplanes
came from over St. Paul's and turned slowly and impressively over
the Mansion
House. A few minutes later came four more flying low over the Royal
Exchange,
and from that time onward the air was alive with planes. The crowd
stood
gazing upwards, with necks permanently craned, at various exciting
feats of
airmanship. 33
-----------------

Given the parade route, and given the disruption to the business
in the
area caused by it, there is every chance that Eliot knew of it or
watched it
himself - recalling Gallipoli and Verdenal, and associating them
thereafter
with the famous Australian slouch hat.

-- end of quoted passages --

Footnotes 17 - 36

17 C. M. Bowra, The Creative Experiment (1949), p. 182.

18 Accounts of the Australians in Egypt stress the problems-4
with prostitutes. See Bean, p. 128, and Gammage, p. 37. -

19 Bowra, p. 182.

20 John Brophy and Eric Partridge, The Long Trail: What the .
British Soldier Sang and Said in The Great War of 1914-18,
rev. ed. (1931; repr. New York, 1965), p. 40.

21 The Times [London], 19 May 1915, p. 7; 22 May 1915, p. 7; 27 May
1915, p.
7.

22 The Times [London], 26 April 1916, p. 2; Manchester Guardian, 26
April
1916, p. 4.

23 T. S. Eliot, `A Commentary', Criterion, xiii (April 1934), p,
452.

24 James E. Miller, Jr., T. S. Eliot's Personal Waste Land Exorcism
of the
Demons (University Park, Pennsylvania, and London, 1977), p. 77.

25 T. S. Eliot, The Idea of a Christian Society (1939), p. 103.

26 See George Watson, `Quest for a Frenchman', Sewanee Review, lxxiv
(1976),
pp. 465-75.

27 Concerning Verdenal's war record, see Watson, p. 467.

28 Sir Ian Hamilton, Gallipoli Diary (1920), vol. i, p. 187.

29 Robert R. James, Gallipoli (1965), pp. 146-47.

30 Eric W. Bush, Gallipoli (1975), p. 160.

31 T. S. Eliot, letter to Conrad Aiken (10 January 1916), cited in
The Waste
Land: A Facsimile and Transcript, ed. Valerie Eliot (1971), p. x.

32 John North, Gallipoli: The Fading Vision (1936), p. 43.

33 The Times [London], 26 April 1919, p. 7.

34 See John Peter, `A New Interpretation of The Waste Land', E in C,
xix
(1969), pp. 140-75.

35 The Times [London], 25 Feb. 1921, p. 9.

36 Kristian Smidt, The Importance of Recognition: Six Chapters on T.
S. Eliot
(Troms0 1973), p. 21.

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