I hesitate to respond. Please do not assume that I am in any way hurt
by what you say. I am not. My remarks were quite far from wildly
prejudicial; I, at least, offer some evidence for my claims, a duty
Williamson noticeably shirks.
However, I am not writing to defend my own honour; but rather that of
those first-year students which it seems to me, by offering them
something like Williamson, and on the other hand treating Eliot as
though he would be incomprehensible to them, I believe you do a great
disservice to (not unlike Williamson's own attitude). What is wrong,
exactly, with requiring that your students (whatever year) _are_ or
become familiar first and foremost with the poems? Is that not what
teaching is about ? Why pander to a lack of knowledge?
And if you plead such a lack in defense of teaching with Williamson by
your side, then I am not sure assigning a volume of commentary is at
all appropriate. Such books are only useful to scholars, not beginners.
The whole things is rather out of spirit with Eliot's notions that one
ought to approach the poetry directly, and other sources only later,
when stimulated and fortified by familiarity and curiosity.
On Tuesday, May 6, 2003, at 03:18 PM, Peter Montgomery wrote:
> Hi Rick,
> It seems to me that your question had to do with
> the mix or ratio of commentary to information.
> It seems to me that Williamson got the mix about
> right, esp. for a beginner. YOUR intended audience
> may be different. As for Jennifer's wildly prejudicial
> remarks as to the quality of Williamson's work, well,
> they leave me smiling, but I don't think they are
> pertinent to what you are trying to accomplish.
> Some people have absolutely no concept of what it's
> like for 1st year students, esp. when confronted
> with strange beasties like Eliot. Williamson is/was
> not one of those people.
> As for the oh so sad case of F.O. Matthieson, I have never
> heard anything but very high praise for his work, and I have
> always found that work most illuminating, but I'm
> not so sure he had the right information/commentary mix
> for porpoises such as yours. I think he was assuming his
> reader was much more familiar with the work than Williamson
> Perhaps if we are to be helpful to you, you might define
> the task a little more fully. That might also help us
> carry on in our wildly prejudical ways in a different thread
> altogether, and not be such a nuisance to your excellent
> Dr. Peter C. Montgomery
> Dept. of English
> Camosun College
> 3100 Foul Bay Rd.
> Victoria, BC CANADA V8P 5J2
> [log in to unmask]
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Rickard A. Parker [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2003 12:30 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: George Williams (was Annotation)
> Peter Montgomey wrote:
>> If you are looking for a madel as far as
>> commentary goes, why not try Williamson. He
>> seems to have just the right mix.
> Jennifer Formichelli wrote:
>> Do you mean George Williamson, author of A Reader's Guide to T.S.
>> Eliot? His commentary (not the same thing at all as editorial
>> commentary) strikes me as a mix of wildly prejudicial remarks
>> andthoughtless restatements of the words of the poems couched in
>> meaningless prose.
> Were you maybe thinking of F.O. Matthiessen?
> He added much to my appreciation of Eliot.
> At any rate I'll checkout both.
> Rick Parker