This post is mostly free association. But I've always thought that the
primary significance of literature is to provide occasions for making
connections (in thought, in writing, in conversation).
Frances Rushworth wrote:
> As an ordinary middle class woman in London, it was not my
> impression that Mrs Thatcher enjoyed general support.
The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales constitutes, among other things, a
microcosm of Chaucer's England, from Knight to Miller. Assuming "April
is the cruelest month" evokes the Prologue, does TWL constitute a
microcosm of Eliot's England, and if so what sort of class theory is
implicit in it: i.e., what principles govern his conception social
patterns? Does "ordinary middle class woman [or man]" fit into those
principles. Are all 'classes' represented in TWL, and how are the
relationships among them delineated. What's the "social position" of
Dear Mrs. Equitone? Does Eliot consider the small house agent's clerk
working class? Are classes for Eliot boxes -- categorys into which one
lumps people according to various criteria -- or are defined by their
I would presume Eliot accepts (implicitly or explicitly) the concept of
a "middle class" (I don't, but that's not immediately relevant), and if
he does, how does he relate himself to that class? Is TWL a middle class
If I recall correctly, Thatcher's popularity was plunging just before
her aggression against Argentina, and that war pulled her back up. If
that is the case, gender certainly didn't have much to do with it.
Plato assumed that every state was in fact two states? And he defined
those states (classes) more or less in terms of their relationship to
time. For the aristocracy (whether Timocrats or his ideal Guardians)
Reality was the Past. The purpose of rule, in fact of human life, was to
maintain the past in the present. For his is "middle class" ("oligarchs"
or "plutocrats" -- a fairly obscure concept actually) neither past nor
present was real: the reality of an act lay in the future and both past
and present were meaningless. And the _demos_ lived only in the present
-- ignorant of the past and indifferent to the future. These "classes"
were metaphysical: that is, not mutually determining. Hegel inquired if
a king was a king because subjects were subjects or if subjects were
subjects because kings were kings. Plato would have said subjects were
subjects, kings were kings, independently of their relationship to each
other. Are Eliot's "classes" independent essences as in Plato or
dialectically defined by their internal relations to each other, as in
Kings are kings only because subjects are subjects, as the French
demonstrated in 1789-93. Is the house agent's clerk a clerk only because
the house agent is a house agent, and is the house agent (I presume this
is U.S. realtor) a house agent in essence or only because . . . ?
The situation is clearer in Milton. Consider the meeting between Uriel
and the Cherub in Book III. (The Cherub, _not_ Satan, because while the
reader knows it is Satan Uriel does not.) Two angels, _strangers_
(imagine that occurring in Dante), one, a tourist travelling on his own,
asks the other for some highway directions. That is both come from
nowhere, existing prior to and independently of any relationship they
might form with each other. Thus the relationship is external, not
internal, and depends on a free (or what I call a compulsorily free)
choice, based only on whatever abstract principles they can agree on.
This is Mrs. Thatcher's world, a world in which society does not exist,
only individuals. Is that the world of TWL?