Hi. I just joined the list yesterday and was thrilled to see so much discussion going on.
As per the discussion of biographies--I would be hesitant to recommend An Imperfect Life, even though Gordon synthesized much of her earlier material here. Her tone toward Eliot and his work is notably changed from her earlier books--I came across some comments to this effect in a recent book, Experiments against Reality (Roger Kimball).
He says, "Gordon was never burdened with a gift for narrative, but in her original volumes she presented the paraphernalia of Eliot's life and career clearly and succinctly. The new book introduces a thick patina of animus. Gordon tells us that her aim was not to demystify Eliot but 'to follow the trials of a searcher whose flaws and doubts speak to all of us whose lives are imperfect.' In fact, she never misses an opportunity to highlight--often, to exaggerate--Eliot's failings."
I have also noticed that many Eliot articles these days make use of Eliot's Early Years, even though Gordon's new book has been out for some time now. I have not seen this new one cited at all yet. The first book appears to be the standard; the newer book unproved at least.
Hope these thoughts are helpful. I look forward to more discussion.
> --On Saturday, January 26, 2002 4:03 PM +0100 INGELBIEN RAPHAEL
> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > I don't see why personal remembrances or memoirs should escape the
> > suspicion of being informed by particular agendas.
> I don't either. I didn't say they did. I think they are. But I meant to
> imply that a wide mix of viewpoints might give a sense of the man less, how
> to say it, dictated by a current mythos, as Gordon's view clearly is. Grant
> her her scholarship; more's the pity that she is the one interpreting it.
> > As for the biographies, they may be biased, but one can hardly blame
> > Ackroyd or Gordon for not having had direct access to the man himself
> > (where would that leave, say, Keats or Tennyson biographers?). Moreover,
> > Gordon in particular consulted and incorporated many personal sources in
> > her own work, as any conscientious biographer would do.
> Again, no quarrel here with sources or their lack. To state it baldly, I
> don't think any amount of knowledge of materials or personal knowledge of
> the poet could save Gordon from her prejudices. Ultimately the poetry
> exposes the underpinnings of this sort of biography.
> Ken Armstrong