As I don't know Gordon but am greatly impressed by her scrupulous pursuit
of every shred of available information, and as I am more prone to think her
unduly deferential to TSE's self-created legacy (in the first two books
especially), I am very interested in what --specifically--you disagree with
and what you know about her as a source that I don't. Is there some
reason to see her as not scrupulous or as prejudiced? Why is she a less
reliable source than, say, Ackroyd?
Date sent: Wed, 7 Mar 2001 14:00:56 -0500
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From: Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]>
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Subject: RE: Eliot's letters--Gordon's Biography
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Interesting, makes me think of my old favorite Katherine Anne Porter who,
like many others, described fiction as creating lies to tell the truth. I
do see your point, but if I disagree with Gordon's interpretation, it is
because I think it is not true, and if I think it is not true, I guess I'm
stuck if someone says I'm calling it a fiction--how can I disagree--though
that kind of fiction may not (is all but cerainly not) her conscious
In the end, I think her work is seriously flawed. It seems to me not more
nuanced in its "Imperfect Life" manifestation, but more polarized in its
own proclivities (it was polarized more than enough in its previous
manifestations). To anyone who would conclude something about TSE
her work, I would have to say "Consider the source." That doesn't dismiss
it; it puts in (I would say) a better (truer) perspective.
On Wed, 7 Mar 2001 10:00:08 -0500 Nancy Gish
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> Dear Ken,
> Interpretation is not fiction.
> Calling her work "fiction" is dismissive. What fascinates me is that her
> first two books were so cautious and admiring, and she only moved to a
> more nuanced and mixed mode in the third. But even if one does not
> agree with her interpretation, it is valid interpretation, not fiction.
> Date sent: Wed, 7 Mar 2001 10:55:47 -0500
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> From: Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: RE: Eliot's letters--Gordon's Biography
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> On Tue, 6 Mar 2001 21:04:49 -0500 Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
> > I do not understand on what possible basis you can judge Gordon's
> > meticulously researched material "fiction." It is consistently based
> > on cited material, and--more signicantly--Gordon has now done three
> > biographies that have gone over and over parallel ground with exacting
> > care. It is simply not possible to dismiss
> But no one is dismissing Gordon; just pointing out that her
> interpretation of Eliot's life is still that, an interpretation. There
> are citations, and then there are the selection and presentation of
> Arwin says explicitly that she excels in facts. It is what she has
> done with them that raises eyebrows. She has cut Eliot's life to fit her
> prejudices. That, too, should not be dismissed.
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