You're right that the way I have written these appears inconsistent. I
do mean that the poems are perverse and that Eliot--as poet--is
perverse. That does not mean that Eliot--as person--was perverse; I am
not commenting on him as a person.
I mean that the poems I listed are "perverse" by virtue of the fact that
they depict events and feelings and experiences that fit the dictionary
definitions of the term.
I mean that Eliot--as poet--is "perverse" by virtue of the fact that he
writes on these subjects and exposes/reveals events, experiences, and
feelings that fit the dictionary definition. This is part of what makes
his poetry so powerful: he is, in fact, plunged into the most perverse
as well as the most idealized. He engages an extreme range of
experience--though I would say it is deep and narrow compared to a
writer like Shakespeare or Chaucer. But then, so is Dante. I am NOT
doing what Eliot called for in his discussion of comparison and
analysis--this is not an evaluative claim.
I would say the same about Dostoevski--certainly Sylvia Plath. These
are writers I deeply admire. That is not a comment on them as persons.
I do not think, on the other hand, that it would apply to Jane
Austen--an equally brilliant author--or to Keats, for example.
I see why you read these as inconsistent, but I do not want it every
which way--I hope this makes that clear.
[Eliot the person may well have been perverse also--or not. I have not
addressed that because, as I said before, I read biography; I do not do
>>> [log in to unmask] 04/06/05 3:46 PM >>>
At 01:25 PM 4/6/2005 -0400, Nancy Gish wrote:
>Maybe I'm just extremely prudish or moralistic, but I really think
>is a fairly widespread resistance to murder, rape, drunkenness, and
>And I did not ever attribute these desires or actions to Eliot himself;
>said they were depicted in the poems. They are. That is not an
>just a fact. To write of poems about these things as if they were NOT
>depicted in the poems is to eliminate the poet's words from whatever
>calls a poem.
I'm doubtful about that "widespread resistance to....drunkeness," but
would not question the other items. I
It is sometimes confusing to read the above when you've already read
sentences like :
>By any standard, a poem about strangling a woman and sleeping with her
is >"perverse." So is a poem about Sweeney after sex, with an epileptic
straining on the >bed while he ignores her. So is a poem about
oneself a young girl raped by >an old man in a forest and also imagining
oneself as the old man. I can give a long list >if you like.
If this does not mean that the poems listed are perverse, the word
does not indicate it, especially when the same author has said "The
Eliot is not--to me--of much interest. Fortunately, he too was much
more complicated, perverse, and inconsistent."
You can't have it every which way. From where I'm sitting, it is exactly
the "idealized Eliot" who, with his poetry, is seen as "perverse."