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TSE  April 2003

TSE April 2003

Subject:

Re: Grammar (you and I, the loyal apposition)

From:

"Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Sun, 6 Apr 2003 21:08:38 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (102 lines)

Jacek Niecko wrote:

> Unbelievable rubbish.  What rubbish.

What rubbish?

The rules of grammar might be boring but seeing how they can be bent
for poetry is a valid topic for this list since Eliot did that.


The rest of the quoted text is Nancy's (except for some noted as mine).

> All this can be read as a way of making sense, except I am sorry but it is
> not a matter of making sense or of opinion.  The "you and I" can,
> theoretically, be an appositive for "us" (as you read it) OR it can be an
> appositive for the implied "we" speaker OR it can be a direct address.

The grammar of "Let us go you and I" does appear to be debatable, by the
Assembly for the Teaching of English Grammar anyways.

    The Assembly for the Teaching of English Grammar -- This organization
    provides a number of teaching resources for grammar instruction.  You
    might consider subscribing to the email discussion list: we've
    recently been debating whether or not T.S. Eliot made an 'error' in
    the first line of 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock'
    ('Let us go then, you and I').  Truly gripping.  Information on
    subscribing are available on the homepage.

[Hey, ATEG, shouldn't that be "information IS available?"]

The ATEG mail list is served from Miami University (Ohio)

It appears that the Prufrock discussion starts here (in March 2001):
   http://listserv.muohio.edu/scripts/wa.exe?A2=ind0103&L=ateg&P=R1327&I=-3

The easiest to read and understand post in that thread (for me anyway)
said in part:

    I read "you and I" as an appositive, expanding "us." An appositive is
    in the same case as the noun phrase it modifies. Here that would be
    objective: "you and me." To murder the line, we could correct it to
    "Allow us (that is, you and me) to go then." Eliot's line is poorer
    grammar but better poetry.
                                 -- Dick Veit


I also found this elsewhere at a Grammar site
(does the title look familiar?):

The Loyal Apposition
http://www.grammartips.homestead.com/appositives.html

    III.  How do we decide an appositive's case?

          A.  Appositives that are pronouns must agree in number and case
         with the words they are in apposition to.

         Ghengis Khan, he who united the warring Mongol tribes into
         a mighty military force, was also notorious for putting to the
         sword the entire population of resisting cities.

         The media have had a field day with the linguistic blunders
         committed by George W. Bush, him of the tortured syntax and
         malapropistic vocabulary.

    Here's an error from T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock":

          Let us go then, you and I . . .

    Technically, it should read, "Let us go then, you and me. . . ."  The
    appositional pronouns ("you" and "I") need to be in the same
    (objective) case as the pronoun "us."  But in Eliot's case I think we
    can call it poetic license.



> Only in the way you read it is there a grammatical mistake, and there is
> no reason to assume a grammatical mistake.

Perhaps it was intentional.  Eliot played with grammar.


> So it is not really a matter of interpretation but a matter of grammar
> unless you want to assume Eliot got it wrong, and why should he?

Because of Eliot's word play I think it IS a matter of interpretation.

This is what I wrote earlier:

> This may be why the "you" is so often read as being the reader, and is
> an invitation the reader into the poem.  Since the phrase may not have
> much meaning in a dramatic context (as if seen on a stage) then it may
> lead the reader to think that he is being addressed (singular you) out
> of a larger group (multiple readers, plural you).

Eliot may have written the line to be ambiguous.  A choice would be
that the "you" could be a "character" or by the (attempt at) logic
above, the reader.  That is, the mind might see the subtle grammar
error and make an adjustment that brings him into the "us."

Regards,
    Rick Parker

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