Althought it is not known, according to Valerie Eliot, when and where he
met Marie, it must have been when he lived briefly in Germany and
traveled in Europe before the War. There is no evidence that the Marie
in the poem was speaking after the War.
Eliot visited Munich, where the rest of this takes place and where they
are talking, in 1911, so it seems likely that was when he spoke with
It is unlikely then, that she is referring to a world after the war.
Those on the list who are very interested in details of image and
background would find Lawrence Rainey's THE ANNOTATED WASTE LAND WITH
ELIOT'S CONTEMPORARY PROSE (Yale: 2005) a great source.
Dear CR: Marie's language describes a world that is gone. If she had
said, "There one felt free" then "there" would accurately refer to her
previous experience in the mountains with her cousin the Archduke. But
she says, "there, one feels free." "There" in that sentence is what
Jacques Derrida calls "an unhealthy sign" because its signifier is an
illusion. Marie speaks as if the archduke's milieu is ongoing, a milieu
"you" can return to when you wish to feel free. Either she is in denial
about the destruction of the old order or her mastery of the past tense
in English is faulty. Both possibilities are symptomatic of European
social upheaval after the war. In any case, "there is no there there."
>>> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 07/12/07 2:55 PM >>>