Thanks, Will, for your insights. Welcome aboard.
----- Original Message -----
From: Your Name <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, January 26, 2002 5:35 PM
Subject: Re: Eliot biographies
> 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.
> Will Gray
> > --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
> > imply that a wide mix of viewpoints might give a sense of the man less,
> > to say it, dictated by a current mythos, as Gordon's view clearly is.
> > her her scholarship; more's the pity that she is the one interpreting
> > > 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?).
> > > Gordon in particular consulted and incorporated many personal sources
> > > her own work, as any conscientious biographer would do.
> > Again, no quarrel here with sources or their lack. To state it baldly,
> > don't think any amount of knowledge of materials or personal knowledge
> > the poet could save Gordon from her prejudices. Ultimately the poetry
> > exposes the underpinnings of this sort of biography.
> > Cheers,
> > Ken Armstrong