I think "gay relationship" depends on how it is defined. Many very
compelling arguments have been made for the poem as an elegy for
Verdenal or at least elegiac in that relation. The Smyrna merchant has
been linked with homosexual encounters. The Hyacinth girl as boy is also
compellingly argued. None of this means that Eliot himself necessarily
consummated any gay sex. But it does have homosocial erotic tones. I
do not think these arguments can just be dismissed as they are too
carefully and extensively made.
I do not know how to read the list of cities after "falling towers" if it can not
at least suggest or evoke "the collapse of civilizations throughout time."
Ferdinand may be mistaken, but he is "Musing upon the king my brother's
wreck/ And on the king my father's death before him." So the image of a
dead father is present in the poem.
As Eliot's notes send us to the Inferno, a descent into the underworld is
also present as image in, for example, Ugolino. Also, Tiresias says he
has "walked among the lowest of the dead," and Odysseus met Tiresias in
I don't know about pseudo-intellectual, but a reader is certainly invoked at
the end of part I.
So I am very puzzled about how all these are not "in TWL."
Date sent: Sun, 27 Oct 2002 18:04:26 -0000
Send reply to: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From: Jennifer Formichelli <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: In Defense of Trimalchio, A Reply to Steve (was TWL Epigraph)
To: [log in to unmask]
I dissent from some of what you say. First, Trimalchio is not exactly a
'psuedo-intellectual' (in fact, this is a better description of Encolpius,
but that's another story); he is a rich freedman, who happens to make
gaffes with a couple of stories whilst trying to one up his learned
company (who are significantly poorer than himself, which is why they
laugh at his jokes and have a good time eating the dinner he provides). It
is not learning but money which concerns him; he is a businessman. On
other hand, the situation declines the gambit of sides (partly why the
Satyricon is so good). Yes, Encolpius and co are cocking a snook at
Trimalchio (especially his bad taste); and he is cocking one back (quid
est pauper, saieth he) at them.
Second, part of what we discover when we engage the context of the
epigraph is that the Sybil situation occurs within another situation, that
of Trimalchio's banquet. This is the major shift between the quotation as
it appears and in its context.
Third, I can't agree with any of the following reasons for selecting the
quotation, because none of them seem to me either in TWL or in the
situation from which the quotation is extracted.
) a trapped woman
> 2) a gay relationship
> 3) the collapse of civilizations throughout time
> 4) a dead father
> 5) a descent into the underworld
> 6) pseudo-intellectual readers who think they understand, but don't