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TSE  September 2005

TSE September 2005

Subject:

Re: "Masks"--Echoes of Eliot

From:

Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Fri, 9 Sep 2005 22:03:38 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (161 lines)

** High Priority **

I used to think of these many contraries as masks, but I no longer do. 
I think "T. S. Eliot" really was all the many personae described by the
different people who encountered his many selves.  Someone called him "a
company of actors in one suit."  He was clearly consistently courteous
and kind to some (Spender speaks of his unfailing courtesy to young
authors) and inconsistent, unkind, and sharp with many who cared most
for him like Heyward and Trevalyn.  I cannot document it in his life
because one cannot see all the material, but in his poetry the
representations of multiple personae are everywhere.

I do not, in other words, think they are "masks" in the sense of chosen
roles but many facets of a differing and complex consciousness.
Nancy


>>> [log in to unmask] 09/09/05 5:40 PM >>>
I would add to this discussion the following note: From the start, but
esp after 1922 (from TWL/Hollow Men to the plays and Four Q) one can
find several strands in his poetry/drama that may seem (and are)
contrary, and in this he resembles Blake ("without contraries is no
progression," said Blake):
 
1.  Private (romantic?) turmoil and pain. This autobiographical strand
(see #2) was strongly masked by using dramatic monologue and staged
drama, enabling him to stress (without seeming hypocritical) his
"classical" project in both poetry and criticism in the post-Great-War
period.
 
The appearance of the full letters (sometime after 2020, one imagines)
will show how closely linked TSE's art and his life actually are.
Lyndall Gordon will be proved correct in many of her conjectures, I
think.
 
2.  Classical formalism and reticence; hence his use of "distancing"
masks for himself (and family and other attachments), esp in the plays.
 
3.  Moral philosophy (his training as philosopher never left him). Also
Eastern religion, esp Buddhism, with its emphasis on such moral elements
as renunciation, dispassionateness, control, discipline, etc.
 
4.  Christian theology (including "theodicy," or the theological
explanation of the presence of evil [and human perversity] in a
monotheistic, providentially directed universe). TSE never felt at home
in this sphere, but pursued it in later years (which explains his
affinity for theologians like R. Niebuhr, Tillich, and Buber in the
1950's).
 
5.  His continued obsession with allusion, which as his career
progressed, began to look more like homage to his forebears (along the
lines set down by Bloom) than witty genuflexions to obscure texts. This
includes echoing of his own poetry from time to time, as if attempting
to drag the past into the present (e.g., the 5-part structure of TWL
echoed in each of the 4Q).
 
In 4Q all these strands are tightly woven and probably play off each
other.  --  Jim
 
 
 
James Loucks, Ph.D.
Ohio State University-Newark
1179 University Dr.
Newark, OH 43055-1797
[log in to unmask] 
740.366.9423
fax 740.366.5047
 

________________________________

From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. on behalf of cr mittal
Sent: Fri 09-Sep-05 5:07 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: {{very OT}}RE: Echoes of Eliot


Vis-a-vis some reactions to this posting, I wish to submit that it was
only intended to highlight the romantic aspect of Eliot's poetry. And
personal pain is essentially a romantic strain.  In doing so I was only
toeing Peter Ackroyd who remarked that the impersonality imposed by art
on Eliot's personal feelings did not detract either from the genuineness
of his pain, or of the loneliness which it imposed upon him. ('T.S.
Eliot: A Life', New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984, p. 306).
 
 I hope I am here at "T.S. Eliot Discussion Forum". 
 
~ CR

cr mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

	"sovegna vos a temps de ma dolor"  (be mindful in due time of my
pain)
	 
	A classicist only in tendency and, admittedly, a romantic at
heart, 
	TSE wanted us to remember his pain. Albeit by inference. You
will 
	pardon me if I feel prompted to commemorate it.
	 
	"By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept . .
	 Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
	 Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long."
	 
	"The new years walk, restoring
	 Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
	 With a new verse the ancient rhyme."
	 
	"Footfalls echo in the memory
	 Down the passage which we did not take
	 Towards the door we never opened
	 Into the rose-garden."
	 
	"She turned away, but with the autumn weather 
	Compelled my imagination many days...
	Sometimes these cogitations still amaze 
	The troubled midnight and the noon's repose." 
	 
	"The notion of some infinitely gentle
	 Infinitely suffering thing."
	 
	Regards.
	 
	CR
	 


	Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote: 

		And some on the list would think, no doubt, he should be
		re-possessed. I have been reminded of a dream I had
		when I was doing my graduate work on Eliot (keeping
		in mind that I seldom have memorable dreams). I met
		him in some sort of billiard parlour. I asked him how
		he was doing, and he replied that he was in great pain.
		I'm sure that will give joy to those who think he
deserves
		it based on what evidence they think they have as to
		how he behaved. Reminds me of the Salem witch trials
		(cf the Crucible). New England puritanism rides again.
		
		I prefer to think I was inflicting pain on him myself by
		what I was doing with my work.
		
		All very Dantesque.
		
		P.
		
		

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