I am reminded of the following by Eliot.
... I suspect that the enigmas provided by Finnegans Wake have
given support to the error, prevalent nowadays, of mistaking
explanation for understanding. After the production of my
play The Cocktail Party, my mail was swollen for months with
letters offering surprising solutions of what the writers believed
to be the riddle of the play's meaning. And it was evident that
the writers did not resent the puzzle they thought I had set
them -- they liked it. Indeed, though they were unconscious
of the fact, they invented the puzzle for the pleasure of dis-
covering the solution.
"Frontiers of Criticism" 121.
FWIW, Wyndham Lewis wrote E. congratulating him on the play,
and indicating his perception that Julia Shuttlethwaite was a relative
of Mrs. Porter. E. confirmed W's accuracy.
Nancy Gish wrote:
>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,"
> 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
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