On Thursday, October 21, 2004, at 09:05 PM, Peter Montgomery wrote:
> Jennifer is just being sophomoric, a characteristic of
> many new graduands.
Tosh. Spare me the Mr Collins drops of condescension. Please.
Now, Nancy; yes, let's disagree.
> I disagree with Jennifer on this one. There were cases where Eliot
> seemed unhappy with changes but took them anyway--he seemed to fret
> about giving up the epigraph to H of D, for example. But more
> important, if the text does have any unity, it was constructed by
> Pound's editing I think. Big topic.
I think it's rather something that Pound wrote so _little_ on the
drafts; mostly just ticking or crossing out lines, and that humourous
comment, 'You, Tiresias...' I am not depreciating Pound's editing
efforts; I am merely arguing that Eliot, aged 34 in 1922 and with
_Prufrock and Other Observations_ behind him, as well as Ara Vos Prec,
which he knew to be good (he wrote so much to his brother Henry in
1919), was the one who accepted and rejected suggestions, and made
changes. This is a crucial point, because the reference to Pound's
editing is not, I think, a type of shorthand. I think it is the work of
the collaborative subconscious, that the drafts make it somehow seem,
if you don't look too closely, that Pound actually edited TWL. He
Second. Nancy, if you argue that 'there were cases where Eliot seemed
unhappy with the changes but took them anyway'--besides changing
'changes' here to 'suggestions'--, then you need to provide us with
specific examples from the drafts and letters. I look forward to
Regarding the epigraph, Eliot did not fret about it; where does he
fret? Pound writes to him about it, and Eliot replies he has replaced
it with the Petronius, 'or something like it' (there's a cryptic
comment for you). And you will recall that Pound almost withdrew his
insinuation about the epigraph all together: 'Who I am to grudge him
his laurel crown?' , telling Eliot to 'do as you like'. And he did: he
chose the far superior, far more rich, Petronius. If you like, I can,
at some point, when I don't have to go to work, describe exactly why I
think the epigraph Eliot selected is far superior to the one he
Next, we have the question of 'textual unity'. Dodgy stuff, that. Can
you explain what you mean by that? It is one thing when Eliot uses this
term--not always clearly, mind you--, but when others use it about him
I think they have a responsibility to define it. Does 'unity' imply TWL
is supposed to tell a story? Why? Poems are not beholden to narrative,
and Eliot often gained his edge by suggesting a narrative, or alluding
to one, without creating one himself (ie, Prufrock, Sweeney); the poems
have no further context outside of themselves, unlike novels.
Further, how do the separate parts of the poem-- the internal section
numbers, title, epigraph, punctuation, allusions, etc-- fit into this
unity? And how, most of all, could such a unity be 'constructed' by
Once we've got through with that, I shall write back about what I think
of Death by Water more generally, in response to Will's request.
Incidentally, I think Pound's main reason for cutting most of the
section was his sense that the poem was already too long. At least,
that's what he says.
Many thanks to Will, Marcia, and Nancy for their kind words in defense
of me . Newfangled Jennifer. If only. When we get older, we do not get