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TSE  March 2001

TSE March 2001

Subject:

Re: Stetson in The Waste Land

From:

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Date:

Tue, 27 Mar 2001 21:05:37 EST

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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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