With all due respect, it apparently does TO YOU. It seems others may
have other interests. "Interesting" is a personal reaction, not a fact.
It means to "arouse or attract attention," or to be "absorbing." Many
people are clearly interested in many things that I find totally
uninteresting, and I'm sure that is also true for you. I have a
fascinating friend who studies air quality and hazardous waste. I would
just as soon count pebbles on a beach all day. But it is clearly
interesting not only to her but to many, and it is extremely important.
There is something strangely disconnected to me in one person saying to
another "that is not what is interesting; the other is what is
interesting." Clearly for the first person "that" IS what is
interesting or they would not have said so.
As regards the poem, the point is exactly that the publication history
is part of what made it a "success" just as its composition is.
Consider all the works that flopped because they were not part of a
successful publishing enterprise--like the works of minorities and women
in most of history. _The Awakening_ is now a kind of classic, as is
_There Eyes Were Watching God_, and both were just ignored for decades
or almost a century. It was not because they were not good or because
of the way they were composed but because they were not praised,
reprinted, given prizes, etc. Or consider the fact that it was over a
century before we had the original forms of Emily Dickinson's poems
because she did not publish them and the man who first did "corrected"
them for her. That is an intensely interesting fact of publication to
many readers. Or consider the fact that Ted Hughes completely
rearranged the sequence of poems in _Ariel_ after Plath died, and that
the readings of it as driving toward suicide depend largely on that
sequence. Her own sequence, which she carefully documented, ended with
"the bees are flying / they taste the spring" and did not have the
movement Hughes constructed. But it was published as he reconstructed
it and still is--an unfortunate consequence of her death and the way it
then got published. In the case of TWL, it is very interesting that a
young and not well established poet had powerful friends and was taken
up by them. That is part of the reason we have the poem. Had Eliot not
been well-connected or had he not known Pound or had he not been born
into a privileged and well-known family or had he not known how to
address the people who could help him, we may not have had the poem, or
it may have turned up years later, and the whole modernist poetry
movement might have been differently defined. Had Hugh MacDiarmid had
any of those situations or had early access to publication in
international houses that could distribute, praise, publicize, and
reprint his work, we might actually know some of the most brilliant
poetry of an alternative modernism. His obscurity outside of Scotland
and some scholars is not a result of failed poetry or even of the fact
that his work is, in fact, very uneven, since the best is brilliant.
This says nothing about the quality of TWL itself--though the different
uses or exclusions of the notes do say something about what comprises
the poem and how the use of sources affects it--but it says a great deal
about how we got access to it and why it had so great an impact so
>>> [log in to unmask] 07/28/05 8:44 AM >>>
--On Wednesday, July 27, 2005 9:46 PM -0400 Nancy Gish
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> That the composition is more interesting than the publication history
> one person does not make it in some absolute way "more interesting,"
> does it?
With all due respect, it does. The list you've itemized is important in
subordination to the poem. Were the poem a flop the list would be at
neglected, wouldn't it? It gets its importance from the poem, not the