Anand Iyer wrote:
> While doing research for my report, I have come across some information
> on Eliot and Verdenal having "more" than a friendship with each other.
> One book pointed out that in The Waste Land, Mr. Eugenides, the Smyrna
> merchant, was being gay to the protagonist. Can anyone shed some more
> light on this? What do y'all personally believe.
For a quick synopsis you want to read my web page on Eliot and Verdenal at
That will direct you to a paper by John Peter, one by George Watson,
Miller's book and John T. Mayer's "T.S. Eliot's Silent Voices." Lamos
also has a bit on Verdendal on pp. 113-114. Fred D. Crawford's "Mixing
Memory and Desire" has some interesting stuff in the chapter on Richard
Aldington. In "The Letters of T.S. Eliot." vol. I you will find a number
of letters from Verdenal to TSE in French and in translation. The best
of all this bunch is Miller's book which deals mainly with Verdenal and
Eliot's first marriage.
You are not going to find smoking gun type evidence in any of the above
nor as I recollect even an accusation. You are going to have to make up
your own mind about the exact nature of the relationship. I have come
to the conclusion that it does not matter if the relationship was a
homosexual one or not. To me it comes down to a strong attachment and
perhaps feelings of guilt on TSE's part for some wandering thougths that
he may have had.
I have more on Verdenal at a different part of my web site. Go to
(or explore6.html if you have a large monitor and many dpi). From there
check out the gray "comment" links to the right of some of the lines in the
poem (the yellow ones are not so daring.)
As for Eugenides the general consensus was that he made a homosexual
propostion. B.C. Southam's "A Guide to the Selected Poems of T.S.
Eliot," p. 170 discusses Eugenides as a real incident. The currants may
be an allusion to Walt Whitman's "These, I, Singing in Spring" where the
narrator collects objects for lovers and comrades. The poem can be found
at http://www.bartleby.com/142/38.html Another image though for the
currants is withered grapes where the grapes represent Christ
(from his sermon on the fruit of the vine.)
Also there is this comment I just posted:
> I think that there is another reason for Mr Eugenides being from
> Smyrna, other than the London Conference. Smyrna also happens to be
> the name of Adonis' mother. She had an "unholy love" for her father
> and this incest produced Adonis. This reinforces the unshaven/unclean
> Mr. Eugenides making an "unholy" proposition. It also causes me to
> see this as the negative side to the resurrection of Phlebas (or the
> Hyacinth girl.) Eliot sees his friend reborn in poetry but it is not
> all good, guilty thoughts arise with the dead too. And before I'm
> accused of gay bashing let me say that I'm using the words "unholy"
> and "unclean" above in a way that the poet might use them (if he ever
> discussed his work.)