Dear Jennifer and all,
I think Empson was wrong. As Eliot said, it is true that we know so much
more than our ancestors and it is they that we know. In 1975 so much of
what now can inform our reading of Eliot had not been published, not least,
Inventions of the March Hare and The Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry,
along with so many insightful readings of Eliot's political influences and
As for Versailles, in a general answer, Eliot was very influenced by
Maynard Keynes's The Economic Consequences of the War, and that
talks very much about the Treaty of Versailles. You can see this in Eliot's
letters. On specifics, I am thinking it through and will write on it. So I
agree on the general images, but I think it goes beyond that and have to
be more precise than I can just in this forum.
Date sent: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 19:35:36 -0700
Send reply to: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From: Jennifer Formichelli <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Pachel rings a bell backwards
To: [log in to unmask]
> Eliot was political, with a lower case "p," but hardly "only" so.
> Milton was
> Political with an upper case "P" but hardly "only" so. Ironically,
> someone like Adrienne Rich gets seen as political because the politics
> are feminist and lesbian. But they are not any more "politics" than a
> commitment to being royalist, catholic, and classical. So trying to
> imagine late Eliot without those very political commitments would pretty
> much restrict one to prosody and style. But it matters that Charles I
> spent his last night with loyalists at Little Gidding.
Empson wrote in his essay on 'Eliot and Politics', 1975:
I was asked to reflect on the politics of Eliot, and after making the
attempt felt rather surprised to conclude that he hadn't got any.
This is possibly the most stimulating thing I've read about Eliot's
politics; anyone curious should be, I hope, pricked to read the whole of
Empson's piece (in Argufying).
As for your statement,
> And the politics of the Treaty of Versailles
> matter in "Gerontion's" cunning corridors.
I have often heard this said; I should like to know why they matter.