Peter Montgomery wrote:
> If it's the right one, then Rickard deserves the credit
> for getting it to us first.
I originally sent the URL in about two weeks ago after the review was
first mentioned (by Tom?) At first I thought Michael was mentioning
another article (the specifics were missing.)
Eugene Schlanger wrote:
> Article argues that you cannot tell a poet by his or her
> spouse/lover et cetera.
I don't think it _argues_ this at all. I think that this is an
inference that one makes.
All in all, I thought Menand's review was the best Eliot essay within a
"Painted Shadow" review I've read by far. But I have some quibbles.
Menand> When Eliot published his first book of poems,
Menand> "Prufrock and Other Observations," in 1917,
Menand> he dedicated it to Verdenal, "mort aux Dardanelles."
Not true. "Mort aux Dardanelles" was added to the Verdenal dedication
of the "Prufrock and Other Observations" section of Eliot's "Poems:
1909-1925" It was not in the original volume. This can lead one to
think that Eliot dedicated the original volume to Verdenal, the man,
and not Verdenal, a representative of the war dead. On the other
hand one can think that in 1925 Eliot decided to correct a mistaken
Menand> Eliot seems to have believed that Verdenal drowned (he did not),
Menand> and this has given support to the identification of the drowned
Menand> sailor Phlebas the Phoenician, in "The Waste Land" ("Consider
Menand> Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you"), with Verdenal.
This thought probably derives from a _literal_ transposing of the
drowning of Phlebas to Verdenal's death but Eliot had used drowning
themes before and a drowned sailor may have suited his poetic needs
better than a literal rendering. In 1934 Eliot did write (most likely
about Verdenal) "... a friend who was later (so far as I could find
out) to be mixed with the mud of Gallipoli." I think this quote can
leave one wondering about whether Verdenal died on land or was washed
up by the sea. Also, Donald Childs wrote about how the French threw
some of their dead into the Dardanelles. See the paragraphs following
Menand> And in 1977 James E. Miller, Jr., encouraged by Peter's article,
Menand> published a book-length interpretation, "T. S. Eliot's Personal
Menand> Waste Land," devoted to what would now be called "queering" the
Menand> poem. It was an energetic and somewhat carefree performance.
Yeah, a lot of people would mistakenly call it a "queering" of the poem
but Miller was careful (_not_ "carefree") in his wording. He does not
say that there was a homosexual relationship between Eliot and Verdenal
nor even that Eliot was homosexual. He does say that TWL can be read
as a poem with personal meanings where a deep friendship with Verdenal
plays a part. John Peter brought up homosexually, but in my opinion
Miller tried to steer clear of the issue. Miller may have had his
opinion about Eliot's sexual leanings but it just didn't make a
difference in his book.
Menand> Miller explained the speech of the hyacinth girl, for example-"
Menand> 'You gave me hyacinths first a year ago; / They called me the
Menand> hyacinth girl' "--by suggesting that the lines are spoken by a
Menand> man, and should be read with a kind of cross-dressed
Menand> suggestiveness: "'They called me the hyacinth _girl_!'"
Menard wrote "should be read" but Miller wrote (p. 71) "Emphasis in the
key line _might_ be on _girl_" (Miller emphasized "girl" I emphasized
the "might"-- hey, I said hw was careful with his wording.)
Menand makes it appear that Miller just decided to add the stress to
"girl" because it fit his needs. Actually there were a couple of
reasons why Miller did this: A line in Eliot's draft and one of Eliot's
notes to TWL. I've made this case on the list before. The essentials
(in my words, not Miller's) are here:
Also, Miller mentions in his text (1977, p. 76) that the idea of the
hyacinth girl being male was prepublished by G. Wilson Knight (1972)
after reading the facsimile of the TWL drafts.