I know. I noted that Cleanth Brooks said it in 1939. The question is
whether the poem does, in fact, work on a "scaffolding" as he says and
whether one can, therefore, identify it as a subtext in any consistent
way. The Chapel Perilous is clearly from the myth, as is the Fisher
King. Not everyone has agreed that the notes and the myth really matter
at all. Pound, for example said, in 1924, "For the rest, I saw the poem
in typescript, and I did not see the notes till 6 or 8 months afterward;
and they have not increased my enjoyment of the poem one atom. . . . I
have not read Miss Weston's Ritual to Romance, and I do not at present
intend to. As to the citations, I do not think it matters a damn which
is from Day, which from Milton, Middleton, Webster, or Augustine." He
goes on further, and Hugh Kenner also rejected the notes as important in
reading, citing both Pound and F. R. Leavis as others who shared his
view--and also T. S. Eliot who called his own notes "bogus scholarship"
and regretted sending "so many enquirers off on a wild goose chase after
Tarot cards and the Holy Grail." Kenner calls that "license . . . to
Clearly a few images do come from that myth, but that every line or
phrase or image fits into a pattern of that as a subtext is a particular
way of reading that Brooks made most fully and was followed by many but
is not the only way to read the poem or even to assume it is apt.
Eliot's review of Joyce as using a "mythic method" was applied to Eliot
himself, but he later said it was just "a piece of rhythmical
grumbling." So as a "subtext," I think, it cannot be a given. There
are many references to The Tempest, but it does not define the structure
of the poem--at least I don't think so.
I am not saying one cannot read it as mythic; I am only saying that is
not essential and there are many other ways to see it.
In any case, I don't understand your point about the semen because the
Fisher King is not one of the dead and reborn gods; he is ill or wounded
and must be restored by the Grail knight. How does that get to semen as
a corpse even if it is his wound is sexual?
Nancy, the whole notion of the Fisher King is based on the
vegetative/fertility myth, and it's a commonplace that this comprises at
least one subtext of the poem. It's the Fisher King, though, not the
Fisher Queen, so it's a guy thing - i.e., semen. The potency of the King
determines the land's fertility, i.e. good crops, successful planting.
It's a one-to-one correspondence in the myth. Diana
>>> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 06/09/07 9:58 AM >>>