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TSE  March 2001

TSE March 2001

Subject:

RE: Form in TWL (was Re: Stetson in The Waste Land)

From:

"Nancy Gish" <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 28 Mar 2001 16:09:39 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (144 lines)

True.  And there are one act plays.
Nancy


Date sent:      	Wed, 28 Mar 2001 11:27:02 -0800
Send reply to:  	[log in to unmask]
From:           	Meyer Robert K GS-9 99 CES/CECT <[log in to unmask]>
To:             	[log in to unmask]
Subject:        	RE: Form in TWL (was Re: Stetson in The Waste Land)

This is not very exact, maybe it's just coincidence, but Shakespeare's
plays have 5 acts & TWL has 5 sections.

Robert 

 -----Original Message-----
 From:	Nancy Gish [SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
 Sent:	Wednesday, March 28, 2001 11:20 AM
 To:	[log in to unmask]
 Subject:	Re: Form in TWL (was Re: Stetson in The Waste Land)

 I confess myself utterly puzzled by "many or most people."  Who
might 
 they be?  Books have been written for 76 years now on TWL, and I
don't 
 think any of them failed to note that it is full of speeches, and
many 
 focused explicitly on that:  Calvin Bedient, for example.  

 Given the incredible variety of playscripts and librettos, I also do not
know 
 what the "exact form" is, but I do not see any version of it in TWL,
which, 
 unlike most plays (though not all) includes a recurrent narrator and

 sections in a third person voice not identified.  Operas are sung,
so the 
 relation of arias and recitative is rather different.  What is this
"exact form"? 
 Nancy  




 Date sent:      	Wed, 28 Mar 2001 13:56:50 EST
 Send reply to:  	[log in to unmask]
 From:           	[log in to unmask]
 To:             	[log in to unmask]
 Subject:        	Form in TWL (was Re: Stetson in The Waste
Land)

 In a message dated 3/28/01 12:04:28 PM Eastern Standard Time,
 [log in to unmask] writes:


 > Nancy has alluded to her problems with finding structure in TWL.
( I
 > hope I'm not putting words in her mouth but that has been my sense of
 > what she has said in the past. )  An ideogrammic poem would
properly
 > have a very special structure that would fit no norms for literary

 > structure as the word is commonly used by critics.
 > 
 > 

 Rick,

 I think many or most people just don't notice that TWL has the exact form
 of a playscript, or a libretto for an opera. The one proviso is that
there
 are no stage directions, leaving the question of whether the stage
 directions are implied. 

 I think people realize, or one can maybe get them to realize, that
what
 one actually sees on the page in a playscript or libretto is a
series of
 annotated speeches (the annotations are the stage directions). But
then if
 one says "doesn't TWL, too, consist of a series of speeches?" they
either
 don't see it, or  say it doesn't matter, or don't understand that a
series
 of speeches is a form (they think of form being limited to metrical
forms
 like iambic pentameter).

 It's maybe a good argument for the proposition that we do indeed
make our
 own realities. If, for whatever reason, one can't or won't recognize that
 a series of speeches is a form (the form used, for example, in
playscripts
 and operatic librettos), then one is always going to regard TWL as
 formless. It's a different proposition if a person can say, "O, of
course
 TWL is a series of speeches. I hadn't noticed (and of course a
series of
 speeches is a form)."  

 This suggests to me that the question of whether TWL is "formless"
gets
 sandbagged early on by a lack of common agreement in literary
studies
 about what the word "form" means. Probably this has happened because form
 hasn't been discussed for so long in this field. The New Critics got into
 it to a limited extent, and there might be an aversion today to
valuing
 anything associated with the New Critics. I'm actually surprised
that the
 question could still be asked of whether TWL is "formless." If one
takes
 the position that form is something not worth talking about, why
would it
 make any difference?

 I don't mean to put you on the spot. But why isn't a series of
speeches a
 recognizable form or structure to you? Leading of course to the
 sub-questions of whether this is a randomized or non-randomized
series of
 speeches. If non-randomized, the "stage directions" would be implied
 rather than explicit. If randomized, there would be no stage
directions,
 whether express or implied. Is it that it doesn't seem
"intellectual"
 enough to begin with something simple that anyone can see with his
or her
 own eyes? Or is it that you think of form in terms of metrical form
only?
 Or are there other factors? 
  I'm not trying to convince you that a series of speeches is a form, if
  it's 
 something you don't accept.  I'm just trying to get clear in my own
mind
 why you'd be willing to think of a Chinese ideaogram as a form, yet
 wouldn't be willing to think of a series of speeches as a form. And
I
 guess that gets down to what you understand form to be, or how you'd
 define it.  

 pat

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