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TSE  July 2005

TSE July 2005

Subject:

Re: TWL Notes

From:

Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Wed, 27 Jul 2005 14:53:14 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (193 lines)

So I broke down and looked it up, all for dear Marcia's sake,
and here it is in all its gory glory. NB: In an edition different
from Jennifer's and so having a different page number.


"Here I must admit that I am, on one conspicuous occasion,
not guiltless of having led critics into temptation. The notes
to The Waste Land! I had at first intended only to put down
all the references for my quotations, with a view to spiking
the guns of critics of my earlier poems who had accused me
of plagiarism. Then, when it came to print The Waste Land
as a little book — for the poem on its first appearance in The
Dial and in The Criterion had no notes whatever — it was
discovered that the poem was inconveniently short, so I set to
work to expand the notes, in order to provide a few more
pages of printed matter, with the result that they became the
remarkable exposition of bogus scholarship that is still on
view to-day. I have sometimes thought of getting rid of these
notes; but now they can never be unstuck. They have had
almost greater popularity than the poem itself — anyone who
bought my book of poems, and found that the notes to The
Waste Land were not in it, would demand his money back.
But I don’t think that these notes did any harm to other poets:
certainly I cannot think of any good contemporary poet who
has abused this same practice. [As for Miss Marianne Moore,
her notes to poems are always pertinent, curious, conclusive,
delightful and give no encouragement whatever to the re-
searcher of origins.] No, it is not because of my bad example
to other poets that I am penitent: it is because my notes stimu-
lated the wrong kind of interest among the seekers of sources."

"The Frontiers Of Criticism" ON POETRY AND POETS. NY:Noonday,1965:121




Jennifer Formichelli wrote:

> Peter,
>
> You'll find the reference to needing more pages when the poem was 
> printed as a small book in the passage I cited from 'The Frontiers of 
> Criticism' , in OPP, pp. 109-10. I should have been more clear; Eliot 
> there tells the whole anecdote; I only quoted a line or two.
>
> Yours, Jennifer
> On Wednesday, July 27, 2005, at 12:34 AM, Peter Montgomery wrote:
>
>> Thanks so much Jennifer. You've pretty well covered the bases there.
>> When I put "invented" I was careless. I meant he came up with the idea.
>> The references themselves are accurate, for what that's worth. They've
>> perhaps cause more trouble than they're worth, because people have
>> gone in for a lot of silly treasure hunting in search of a cue as to 
>> what
>> the poem is all about, and so missed the experience of the poem itself.
>> Eliot was not trying to play hide and seek with the reader.
>>
>> There is also a reference somewhere as to the need to fill out some 
>> pages
>> to get the poem up to length for book size. That may indeed be in 
>> Pound's
>> letters. I've scanned Val's intro to TWL ms . but couldn't find it.
>>
>> Cheers,
>> Peter
>>
>> Jennifer Formichelli wrote:
>>
>>> Dear Peter,
>>>
>>> Might the passage you are looking for be Eliot's remarks in 'The 
>>> Frontiers of Criticism' (1956), on the notes to TWL:
>>> 'The Notes to The Waste Land! I had at first intended only to put 
>>> down all the references for my quotations, with a view toward 
>>> spiking the guns of critics of my earlier poems who accused me of 
>>> plagiarism.' (OPP, pp. 109-10)
>>>
>>> I believe the poem in question of plagiarism was actually 'Cousin 
>>> Nancy' (the last line 'The army of unalterable law' from Meredith's 
>>> 'Lucifer in Starlight'); Eliot , I think , remarks on this in 'To 
>>> Criticise the Critic' (1961) and also in interviews he gave in the 
>>> late 1950s in the Yorkshire Post and perhaps elsewhere. Eliot does 
>>> not say that he 'invented the notes'; however, Southam and some 
>>> others discuss some quite strange remarks he makes in them. There is 
>>> also I think quite a bit on this in the Casebook for The Waste Land 
>>> (a collection of mainly contemporaneous reviews and criticism of the 
>>> poem).
>>>
>>> As for poems and the question of annotation, there are other 
>>> annotated poems. Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner might even 
>>> be considered annotated in a sense. Eliot remarks on Marianne 
>>> Moore's notes to her poems in OPP as cited above, and Empson also 
>>> annotated some of his poems, as well as writing a wonderful essay 
>>> about annotation and poems, 'Obscurity and Annotation' (1930), 
>>> collected in Argufying. I'm sure others on the list can think of 
>>> others. As for novels, I'm uncertain: perhaps others on the list can 
>>> think of some that are annotated by their authors. I know John 
>>> Barthes in The Friday Book has some fun with annotations of 
>>> annotations, but that doesn't quite count. Were there any 
>>> annotations in The Name of the Rose? I can't recall.
>>>
>>> Anyone else?
>>>
>>> Yours, Jennifer
>>>
>>>
>>> On Tuesday, July 26, 2005, at 03:50 PM, Peter Montgomery wrote:
>>>
>>>> If I wrack my brain hard enough I may remember just were Eliot 
>>>> talked about that.
>>>> He was criticised, when Pruffy came out for having so many 
>>>> borrowings in his poem.
>>>> Check Cleanth Brooks on that. The thought occurs that the critics 
>>>> were just
>>>> too overwhelmed by the poem, didn't know what to make of it, and so 
>>>> they had to pick on something. It was very UNFAIR criticism, given 
>>>> that English poets
>>>> have always used allusions galore with out citing the sources.
>>>>
>>>> As to the notes on The Waste Land, the story goes that he and the 
>>>> publisher
>>>> wanted to produce it in book form but it was just too small, so Eliot
>>>> invented the notes, partly as a finger up at the critics of Prufrock.
>>>>
>>>> There is a lot of doubleness in the notes if one sees them as a send
>>>> up, eg the one at the end of The Fire Sermon about the collocation
>>>> of Eastern and Western culture at this point in the poem note being
>>>> an accident. Of course it's not an accident, so why say so.
>>>>
>>>> Besides which, how many poems (or short stories or novels for that 
>>>> matter)
>>>> provide citational work? I can't think of any other than TWL at
>>>> the moment.
>>>>
>>>> As to where you can find all this, well I strongly remember Eliot 
>>>> referring to it in an
>>>> essay or prose piece. I don't remember where. If I had the time I 
>>>> would look in
>>>> To Criticise The Critic first, and if not there, then On Poetry and 
>>>> Poets.
>>>> Look for places where he is talking about his own work.
>>>> It would take a lot of skimming, but that's the best I offer for now.
>>>> Perhaps someone else can help. It isn't referred to a lot in Eliot
>>>> studies, but, on the other hand, it is referred to from time to time.
>>>> (If that makes any sense.)
>>>>
>>>> Cheers,
>>>> Peter
>>>>
>>>> Marcia Karp wrote:
>>>>
>>>>> Peter Montgomery wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>>> One
>>>>>> must remember that Eliot was deliberately having on those critics 
>>>>>> who
>>>>>> slammed him for not having citations for Prufrock.
>>>>>>
>>>>> Dear Peter,
>>>>> I don't remember this being so. Where might I learn (and then 
>>>>> remember) that TWL notes have anything to do with Prufrock? What 
>>>>> citations were readers missing for that poem? How did the notes 
>>>>> for TWL come about?
>>>>>
>>>>> Best,
>>>>> Marcia
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> -- 
>>>> No virus found in this outgoing message.
>>>> Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
>>>> Version: 7.0.338 / Virus Database: 267.9.5/58 - Release Date: 
>>>> 7/25/2005
>>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>> -- 
>> No virus found in this outgoing message.
>> Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
>> Version: 7.0.338 / Virus Database: 267.9.5/58 - Release Date: 7/25/2005
>>
>
>


-- 
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.0.338 / Virus Database: 267.9.5/58 - Release Date: 7/25/2005

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