This is an opinion about what happened, not a full description The
affair is probably true though not verified in any text I know. But
Russell seems to claim it in some letters. What is essential is to read
the whole story. This is very one-sided and omits too much to explain
the behavior of either. I have not yet read Raines, so he may improve
on this in his book. But he has a very odd notion of "repudiation."
Eliot came back from the US and did not go home, where she was expecting
him, or ever see her again (except once when she went to a reading,
walked up to him and asked him to come home. He said "I cannot talk to
you now" and walked away.) He never told her what he meant to do; he
just did not go home. He hid from her, communicated only through
lawyers, and agreed to the commitment and never visited her once. Most
people would, I think, call that "repudiation."
In any case, there is no need to admire Viv to acknowledge that his
treatment of her was cowardly. And anyone who has read "Ode" can not
avoid thinking their distruction of each other was mutual from almost
the beginning. He destroyed her as much as she damaged him.
Why does all this matter? Because so much of the poetry does, in fact,
evoke the images of their despair (as in "A Game of Chess" for Viv and
the opening of Burnt Norton for Emily Hale.) And because one need not
idealize a poet because of brilliant writing.
>>> cr mittal <[log in to unmask]> 06/16/07 4:24 PM >>>
Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote: //There is the
fact that he remained true to his marriage vow, if not to Viv.
Curious that he didn't get a divorce, quite accessible at the time,//
could marry poor old Emily, if he really loved her all that much.
It should be interesting in this context to note what Craig Raine
in his article PRIVATE PASSIONS, in The Guardian :
Though initially Vivien was a valued, even essential literary confrere
and a loved wife - "I have felt happier, these few days, than ever in my
life", Eliot writes to Bertrand Russell on January 14 1916 - the
marriage was not a success. On January 10 1916, Eliot writes to Conrad
Aiken that financial worries and concern over Vivien's poor health had
stopped him writing: yet "I am having a wonderful time nevertheless. I
have lived through material for a score of long poems in the last six
months. An entirely different life from that I looked forward to two
years ago. Cambridge [Mass.] seems to me a dull nightmare now ..."
Vivien committed adultery with Bertrand Russell, Eliot's ex-teacher and
mentor. Eliot was legally separated from her in 1933. Gradually, she
went mad and in 1938 was committed by her brother Maurice. She died in a
private mental hospital in Finsbury Park, London, on January 23 1947.
Eliot never repudiated his first wife. Until she was committed by her
brother, Eliot made sure she was watched over by mutual friends. He
could not live with her, however. In the light of her extraordinary
behaviour, his decision is reasonable -- route marches through London in
full fascist uniform looking for him, well-and-widely-attested paranoia,
pushing chocolate through the Faber letterbox.
( http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1983084,00.html )
Emphasis, of course, is mine.
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