And an old white horse galloped across the meadow...
Hiyo Silver, away!
----- Original Message -----
From: "Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2006 4:37 AM
Subject: Re: TSE Digest - 17 Dec 2006 to 18 Dec 2006 (#2006-310)
> Temur Kobakhidze wrote:
> > Sorry for having sort of jumped into your discussion of Four Quartets,
> > and many thanks for the links. I still think the best link to the Ghent
> > Altarpiece is http://www.wga.hu/index1.html , and that is Web Gallery of
> > Art.
> I have to disagree about where the best pictures are. Wikipedia's can
> be enlarged by clicking on the picture seen on the article page for
> one thing. It also discourses on the alterpiece. Either Wikipedia
> ignored the part of the panel with the Sybil or I missed it so I
> clicked the link to Wikicommons' pictures of the alterpiece and I
> picked up a 1 MB screen-filling (944x1760 pixels) detail of just the
> part of the panel containing her.
> > I vaguely remember a discussion of the topic here on this list years
> > but sadly the archives are inaccessible, and I don't remember who the
> > participants were.
> The posts that you've mentioned are by Raphael Ingelbien in
> November, 1998. There was some discussion of panels in art work
> (St. Sebastian, I think) and Raphael wrote an aside:
> Speaking of panels: I recently had another look at Van Eyck's
> Mystic Lamb, this time with possible Eliotic allusions in mind.
> It was rather intriguing. Eliot's hippopotamus started drifting
> into the cathedral...
> Jim Loucks replied to Raphael with:
> Can you elaborate on your last remark about the painting [and]
> TSE's hippo?
> Before Raphael replied there was some silliness on the list about the
> hippo and TSE and anti-semitism that Raphael continued a bit before
> getting more serious.
> I'm adding a few of Raphael's posts below my signoff.
> > I can understand, that one can see no hippopotami in the paintings of
> > Eyck, but the whole thing does not seem as simple as that. What I am
> > for is your comment. To what extent the suggestion that TSE parodied
> > Adoration in The Hippopotamus is true?
> Now that I've got Raphael's suggestions to steer me I'll see where they'll
> take me.
> Rick Parker
> P.S. - And an aside from me: Later that month Arwin van Arum also wrote:
> Not to mention Theophile Gautier's "l'Hippopotame" of course,
> but you knew that.
> > Date: Fri, 27 Nov 1998 21:14:38 +0000 (GMT)
> > From: "R.J.Ingelbien"
> > Subject: Re: Lamb/hippo
> On Fri, 27 Nov 1998, james loucks wrote:
> > Can you elaborate on your last remark about the painting the TSE's
> You see, Jim, it was in Ghent's marvellous cathedral that things
> suddenly fell into place: looking at Van Eyck's Mystic Lamb, I got the
> revelation that Eliot was not just a misogynist, a fascist, a racist, a
> bigot, an antisemite, a thief (it was he who stole the lost panel of
> but that he was indeed the Antichrist himself...
> OK, here is what I noticed:
> - the lamb, washed as white as snow, if you like,
> - the true church, looking on,
> - the choir of the martyred virgins,
> - lurking in a corner, our old TWL friend the Sibyl of Cumae.
> There might have been some other things as well, which I don't remember
> right now. I didn't take notes, sorry. I was also looking at the painting
> for itself.
> Besides alluding to Van Eyck, 'The Hippopotamus' also alludes to _Heart of
> Darkness_ of course. More specifically, to the dead hippo meat that
> the cannibals take with them on the boat, and which the pilgrims (another
> version of the supposedly true church that Eliot also satirises) chuck
> the river since they can't bear its stench. By letting the dead hippo,
> washed as white as snow, ascend to heaven, Eliot redeems it from Conrad's
> heart of darkness. The pilgrims remain confined to it, sailing on one of
> rivers of hell as others in Eliot remain stuck on the shores Dante's
> Inferno - most notably the Hollow Men, who can only see that 'Mistah
> Kurtz, he dead'. Kurtz himself can only exclaim 'the horror!' because he
> worships the false whiteness of ivory. Had he helped himself to
> the hippo's meat, he would have glimpsed the possibility of redemption -
> in Eliot's reading, if not in Conrad. Instead, he sits upon the shore,
> fishing for the bits of dead hippo meat unwisely discarded by the
> pilgrims. The dead hippo lies at the bottom of the river, full fathom
> five: the hippo is the Jew of course, i.e. the only one who, like his
> derided brother Bleistein, will find grace in God's eyes.
> > Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 15:00:02 +0000 (GMT)
> > From: "R.J.Ingelbien" <[log in to unmask]>
> > Subject: Re: Van Eyck
> On Sat, 28 Nov 1998 [log in to unmask] wrote:
> > If people ask you what you think of the van Eyck, you'll ordinarily
> > say a few sentences, and it isn't going to be as revealing of your ideas
> > as, say, your writing a 15-page essay on the painting.
> A bit much to ask at this point, I would say. I was only suggesting that
> Eliot may have remembered the painting when he wrote 'The Hippopotamus'.
> > 1) I wasn't aware he had visited Ghent, so fill me in. If he didn't,
> > isn't fatal because he could have known the painting through a postcard
> > reproduction.
> He did visit Ghent shortly before W.W.I, as well as Bruges and Antwerp.
> That's mentioned in his letters, as well as in Gordon. You say that he
> was more into Italian art than in Flemish/Germanic painting: this may be
> true, but he may have been particularly impressed by some of the
> paintings he saw in Flanders. Again, which painting of St Sebastian
> struck him most? I can't remember for sure right now, but from what I
> remember of Gordon I think it was something he saw in a Flemish museum.
> Correct me if i'm wrong.
> As you point out, it is also true that Northern painters took Revelation
> as their subject more often than their Italian counterparts.
> As for postcards or reproductions: Van Eyck's triptych is quite a tricky
> thing to reproduce, what with its three panels (some of which are painted
> on both sides) and its sheer size.
> > 3) Here's the biggest problem. The Ghent Altarpiece is based on
> > especially the mystic lamb, from the book of Revelation.
> True. What makes it quite interesting is that it condenses Revelation in
> a visionary mode rather than a narrative one. Thus, the central panel has
> the Lamb at its centre, with various groups looking on (groups of Eliotic
> interest here: the martyr'd virgins, the confessors). In other words, it
> is an extremely synthetic condensation of images.
> I am not sure Eliot liked it - certainly his response to the Flemish art
> towns was not wholly enthusiastic. He complained of their slightly musty
> atmosphere, the old miasmal mist hanging about the place.
> > possibility A--Eliot and van Eyck both borrow imagery from Revelation.
> > possibility B--Eliot borrows from van Eyck, who borrowed from Revelation
> Or a mixture of both.
> > The Biblical book is bizarre and "surrealistic." Many artists
> > tone down the imagery. In Revelation, for example, the mystic lamb has
> > horns and seven eyes." Van Eyck trimmed this back to a normal number of
> > and no horns.
> On the other hand, he still adopts a visionary rather than a narrative
> approach. He was no Bosch OK, but he did adopt a challenging method.
> > Now if you seriously felt the van Eyck was relevant, why not lay out
> > reasoning? Maybe you see something I'm not noticing.
> I don't have a 'reasoning' at this stage, beyond the suggestion that Van
> Eyck may have been part of the kind of religiosity that Eliot was
> in 'The Hippopotamus'. I don't think I know enough about Eliot's
> response to the visual arts to develop this much further, but since some
> people on the list are rather gemmed up on that aspect I thought I would
> float the idea of a connection and see what they could make of it.
> > Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 15:39:08 +0000 (GMT)
> > From: "R.J.Ingelbien" <[log in to unmask]>
> > Subject: Re: Van Eyck
> On Sun, 29 Nov 1998 [log in to unmask] wrote:
> > > I don't have a 'reasoning' at this stage, beyond the suggestion that
> > > Eyck may have been part of the kind of religiosity that Eliot was
> > > satirising in 'The Hippopotamus'.
> > That makes a lot of sense to me, and Belgium was (is it still?) a
> > nation. If he didn't much care for the low countries, that might be
> > more reason for being satirical.
> Belgium is indeed a largely Catholic country (I wouldn't call it a
> Although Eliot was to move towards Anglo-catholicism, poems like 'The
> Hippopotamus' or 'Mr Eliot's Sunday Morning Service' sometimes read like
> quasi-Lutheran satires on the corruption of the Catholic church. The True
> Church that is attacked in 'The Hippopotamus' seems definitely Catholic
> to me. Belgium was of course one of the main centres of the
> Counter-Reformation in Europe, though the expression of that was Rubens -
> Van Eyck came earlier.
> > I see Eliot as the studious (pedantic, conscientious) kind of tourist
> > goes to a museum and reads everything the museum has available about the
> > works on display.
> That's partly why I think he may have had Van Eyck in mind in 'The
> Hippopotamus'. As you said, it's difficult to decide whether he is
> referring to Revelation, or Van Eyck, or both. What puzzles me is Eliot's
> reference to the 'martyr'd virgins' who will kiss the hippo. Revelation
> mentions martyrs (6.9) and virgins - the latter being part of the vision
> of the Lamb on Mount Zion (14.4). Problem: those virgins are male - i.e.
> those who have never been with a woman. The martyrs of 6.9, on the other
> hand, are not specifically virgins, male or female.
> Now if you look at Van Eyck's representation of the vision of the Lamb,
> you'll see that the virgins are women (or most of them. I didn't check
> whether there were males among the lot). The Cathedral's leaflets refer to
> them as 'martyred virgins' - though of course I not sure that Eliot would
> have been given anything of the kind to read.
> Still, I found that rather intriguing.
> No virus found in this incoming message.
> Checked by AVG Free Edition.
> Version: 7.5.432 / Virus Database: 268.15.22/590 - Release Date:
12/16/2006 5:39 PM