Shades of poetic inbreeding.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Nancy Gish" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2008 5:45 PM
Subject: Re: Eliot's French poems from "March Hare"
> In general, I would agree about the text in question not having anything
particularly to do with homosexuality. But the old man who shadows so many
of Eliot's figures sometimes does, notably in "Death of St. Narcissus"--and
there is Verdenal. So it is not, I think, just the parallel to the circle
of the sodomites that could suggest it.
> >>> Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> 11/29/08 8:09 PM >>>
> Nancy Gish wrote:
> > Dear Tom,
> > I have not read it that way, but it seems to me a quite valid reading.
> > I do think it a general problem to read Eliot always through his
> > allusions: as I have argued before they can as easily displace what is
> > immediately IN the poem as they can incorporate more. I think in this
> > case that the parallels can be read alongside the continuing sense of
> > another self, an alter, who is degraded and old and numb. Here that
> > self comes back to tell his story, like so many Dante characters. I
> > never have thought it revealed much to try to match him up with Yeats or
> > Dante or any prior poet. What you say does work.
> I agree with Nancy on this question of allusions. In fact my tendency is
> to assume that the allusion _counts_ in so far and _only_ in so far as
> it 'fits' the context of the passage independently of what the allusion
> adds. Take an allusion that hits you in the face: Faulkner's title,
> Sound and the Fury. _First_ one should read the book and gain a general
> sense of it; _then_ and only then should one begin to think about
> Shakespeare, and one should ignore anything in Macbeth that does not fit
> that general sense of the book. In the case of the familiar compound
> ghost, a circle of hell, a remembered acquaintance in a new and
> surprising context, a general sense of digging into one's past for a
> deeper understanding of the present, all are enriched by 'adding' the
> Dante allusion, but there is _nothing_ in the passage, it seems to me,
> _except_ the allusion to dante to suggest homosexuality, and I would see
> that as irrelevant to the passage, so I would reject that part of Tom's
> reading. Put bluntly: the _whole_ of a passage referred to is almost
> _never_ relevant, and it is basic to reading allusive text to
> discriminate the elements in the alluded text that are relevant, the
> elements that are not.
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11/28/2008 7:31 PM