I think you are right about the seeming avoidance of WWI by Eliot, but
the more one looks at details, the more it seems a key issue. Stetson,
for example, is a soldier; Lil's husband is just home from the War; the
rats in "rats alley" are like rats in the trenches (Fussell notes this
in THE GREAT WAR AND MODERN MEMORY) and Eliot, in a letter, described
his brother-in-law's account of shooting rats all night; and Jewel
Brooker very convincingly argues that the violence in his poems of the
period is related. His letters are full of comments about how difficult
life is because of the War. So it may be a real question why it is so
coded and/or avoided as a major, overt theme.
One modernist who did write a long piece about the War was Hugh
MacDiarmid who, unlike Pound and Eliot, was in the service
throughout--1915-1918. He wrote a strange narrative called "A Four
Years Harvest." But he also talked in letters about how he would write
about the War when it was over, and he never did.
I wonder if it was just something many could not speak about. And I
wonder if you think that the poetry does have much more direct allusion
to it than has generally been discussed. Was it too traumatic to deal
Your message now makes me wonder if the Home Front created so traumatic
a world for Eliot that he too could not address it much. His letters,
and Viv's, about trying to enlist--and failing over and over--also
suggest that it was emotionally very difficult for him. We are seeing,
in returning Iraq veterans, similar trauma.
>>> Richard Seddon <[log in to unmask]> 05/28/07 12:10 PM >>>
Nancy, an excellent subject for Memorial Day. Thank you.
I would like to propose that many of the modernists, Eliot and Pound
example, seemed to ignore WW I (Please: I know of T. E. Hulme) but
much more involved in WW II. (Eliot in a typically stiff necked way and
Pound in a typically belligerent propagandist's way)
In partial refutation I would recommend reading Richard Aldington's
"Field Manoeuvres", "In the Trenches", "Trench Idyll" and "Resentment".
course one could partially deflect this refutation by maintaining that
Aldington wasn't a major modernist but then again he was one of the type
poets for "Imagism"
I would like to hear from the list in either support or refutation of
proposal. If you choose to support my proposal what do you think was
reason. I would imagine that those who disagree will be only too happy
show me the error of my ways.
Portales, NM USA