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TSE  January 2002

TSE January 2002

Subject:

Re: TSE gay? Should this be discussed?

From:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Sun, 13 Jan 2002 02:48:20 EST

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In a message dated 1/11/02 6:20:24 AM EST, [log in to unmask] writes:

> And I wonder if he did in fact tell his executor
> to supress everything that was supressable, as someone stated. 

   I scanned in the 'suppress everything suppressable' section from "Painted 
Shadow" so you can see it for yourself (and this time, let me also include 
the notes). 

   First, here's the context: Seymour-Jones claims that Geoffrey Faber, who 
owned the publishing firm of Faber & Faber, was a bisexual who had a physical 
relationship with TSE:

================================
P 525.
   Love 'without desire' therefore remained an ideal only, for in reality 
Eliot was living, as he admitted in Fable XIV 'The Whale, the Elephant, the 
Coot and the Spider', in Noctes Binanianae, a Jekyll and Hyde life. 
Churchwarden and publisher by day, at night Eliot became Tom 'tusker', who 
enjoyed the 'red light time' with his bisexual friend Geoffrey Faber. 34 In 
his vestry, jokes Tom, 'pious Jekyll purloins letter-paper', that 'Hyde may 
cut a rogue elephant's caper', trusting to 'an ecclesiastical alibi'. And 
although, like the Chairman at Faber & Faber, the Elephant is 'always in 
temptation', and 'must do what nature bids him do', being sometimes 'by 
nature speedy/In Apres-midi', it is at night that their most spectacular 
transformations take place. The nightly revels {'Late at Night-time! Is the 
Red-light time') are accompanied by a chorus of 'Nigger Minstrels' singing 
'Who dat Man? See Them Roll ...See Them Ro-hole', as Possum transforms his 
elegant shape into that of Tom Elephant, 'a tusker at that, the biggest 
extant'. Together, the Elephant and Coot visit a palace, not the palace of 
peace at the Hague, or the 'Palace of Sorts' at Geneva, or even Alexandra 
Palace, but a House in the Euston Road, 'where Friend meets Friend', though 
what a friend would say if a friend were a whale {Morley) remains an 
'unimaginable tale'. In another 'Ode to a Roman Coot', Eliot recalled shared 
memories of the 'festal drunks' at All Souls' Hall, of the Coot at dawn on 
Hampstead Heath, 'forever panting and in cotton pants', of charming the 'loud 
roisterers' in the Common Room, and amazing 'th' attendants in the Turkish 
Bath'. In the final chorus, the Elephant, Coot and black minstrels cry 'Berry 
Berry: Let the grave close over the nights that were'.35 

--------------------------------------
34 Francis King in conversation with the author, 4 April 2000. 

35 Fable XIV, 'The Whale, the Elephant, the Coot and the Spider', 'Ode to a 
Roman Coot', 'Nobody Knows How I Feel About You', (from Geoffrey Faber to 
Eliot) Noctes Binanianae (1939), no.10 of 25 copies printed, Houghton. 
===========================================


So, in the context that Seymour-Jones believes Faber knew about TSE's 
sexuality, she writes:

====================================
p 513.
Vivienne felt sure that Tom had made a will, leaving 'everything without 
exception' to her - apart from his ring and his stick to Henry - and that she 
and Geoffrey Faber were joint trustees of his literary estate and would 
inherit Eliot's copyrights.73 In this she was deeply mistaken: by 18 February 
1938 Eliot was pressing John Hayward to act as his literary executor, 
pleading that he knew no one except John whom he could altogether trust in 
that capacity, and stressing his 'mania for posthumous privacy'. Your job, 
Eliot wrote to Hayward, would be 'to suppress everything suppressable, 
however F & F might be tempted'.74 

71 YE Diary, 1 January 1935, Bodleian. 
72 Ibid., 7 April 1935. 
73 Ibid., 1 January 1935. 
74 TSE to JH, 18 February 1938, John Hayward Bequest, King's College, Cam- 
bridge. Eliot wrote that he always counted on making a new will every five 
years, so Hayward's commitment need only be for that period.

==========================================


   By the way, I really don't want to give the impression that "Painted 
Shadow" is only about TSE's sex life. Here, for example, is a passage about 
Vivienne's committal to the mental asylum that may cast some doubt on our 
TSE-list-members' claims last month that Vivienne's committal was purely the 
result of the best medical advise available at the time:
=====================================================
P 562.
  Vivienne's committal opened the way for Maurice to take sole control of the 
Haigh-Wood estate. When Rose died in 1941, Eliot relinquished his 
trusteeship. Maurice was Vivienne's heir by her will of 1936. But although 
her death would benefit him, it also brought him anguish, as he confessed to 
Michael Hastings: 

   It was only when I saw Vivie in the asylum for the last time
   I realised I had done something very wrong. She was as sane
   as I was. She said) 'God knows that may not amount to much,
   Maurice) but I'm as sane as you are,' and I did what I hadn't
   done for years. I sat in front of Vivie and actually burst
   into tears. ..What Tom and I did was wrong. And Mother. I did 
   everything Tom told me to. Not ashamed to say so. But when it 
   came to our family, I think he bit off more than he could chew.
   He didn't understand the rules, actually. You see - you have
   to be kind to Vivie.93 

--------------------------------------
93 Michael Hastings, Introduction, Tom and Viv (London: Penguin, 1984).

=========================================


-- Steve --

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