Please excuse my slow reply. No, Williamson, not Mattheissen.
Matthiesson wrote rather a good book on Eliot in the 30's (he killed
himself just short of 20 years later, I believe, because he was hunted
down by McCarthy as a Communist). He knew Eliot whilst Eliot lectured
at Harvard in 1932-3, and therefore his notes, gleaned many of them
from conversations with TSE, are excellent; they are voluminous and far
and away the best part of his book.
Williamson's book is commentary; not criticism (or that's how he
presents it, anyhow, but it's rather not the case). It's far below
Southam and rather rudely and tritely presented, I think. It
condescends to students and everyone else by maintaining the pretense
that his remarks are what the poem is telling you. But they are not.
And it lacks a lot of intelligence in both style and method.
By the way, Mattheissen's book is called 'The Achievement of T.S.
Eliot', if you weren't sure. And it's certainly worth looking up.
On Tuesday, May 6, 2003, at 12:29 PM, Rickard A. Parker wrote:
> 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