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TSE  January 2002

TSE January 2002

Subject:

Re: Painted Shadow Excerpts

From:

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

Date:

Thu, 10 Jan 2002 13:48:15 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (64 lines)

Dear Ken,

Arguments from authority are not very serious since authorities disagree,
and in this case the letter writer is not even named. I know Eliot pretty well
also, having read his poetry and prose and uncollected works for about
three decades, and many many other people who have also done so hardly
feel the letter of one writer would dismantle their own evaluation. And
though this book is clearly intended to shock and be an expose, that is
not, in itself, proof that none of it is true. It is quite clear that Seymore-
Jones had access to previously unavailable material in the Bodlian and that
she has done extensive research. I am waiting for the book, and I have no
evaluation of its quality yet, but dismissing it out of hand ignores the nature
of the subject and the fact of her research. I am interesting in knowing
what new information she can document and adding that to what we have
known. If it includes gossip and scandal, that may or may not be,
nonetheless, new information. Moreover, the general drift of it, as I see in
reviews and Steve's excerpts, fits with much that we know of Eliot and that
we know is true. The crude sex and homosexual references in much of his
early poetry, for example, is just there for anyone to see. The fact of his
many masks and strange behavior at times is not new: Virginia Woolf's
mention of green face powder, for example, is very old news. His long
history of living in a male culture with Hayward is also.

The book may well be high pitched and punitive without being false. But
my point is that it cannot be dismissed as simply bad scholarship without
extremely careful and honest checking of her sources. In any case, my
question about the general acceptance of equally incomplete sources that
see him as a victim stands.

I remain puzzled.
Nancy


Date sent: Thu, 10 Jan 2002 11:09:31 -0500
Send reply to: [log in to unmask]
From: Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Painted Shadow Excerpts



--On Thursday, January 10, 2002 10:34 AM -0500 Nancy Gish
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I am rather puzzled about why this scholarship is seen as incompetent,

  Nancy,

  Apparently it is not difficult to be relieved of that puzzlement. The
latest indicator I've read is in a letter in the Dec. 21 TLS in response
to the review in that publication of Nov. 30. The letter writer seems to
know his Eliot very well and characterizes the book as "spurious
scholarship" and "manipulative" (shades of A. Julius!). The TLS review was
fairly even handed, I had thought, but characterized the book as "a high
pitched, punitive attack" on TSE. Easy to hand, the review URL posted by
Raphael the weekend after Christmas (I remember because, out of town, I
was able to read it but not to respond) gave an indication of the book's
weakness. Interestingly if not surprisingly, some of the reviews seem to
fall in line with the bias of the publications in which they appear. Maybe
you are not reading the ones that expose the deficiencies, though as
glaring as they appear to be, you will no doubt note them yourself should
you read the book.

Ken A.

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