You sent us part of a letter with Russell's complaining about his night of
bad sex with Mrs. Eliot. I read something quite awhile ago about this
being somewhat of a regular or at least an expected ploy by Russell to get
sympathy from an anticipated mistress. As far as I know this letter is
the only smoking gun evidence of an affair between the two (although I
have no doubt that there was one) but it loses value as truth if one has
credence in the method of seduction stated is believed.
As for Ackroyd's mention of the houses in Prufrock pointing and laughing
at him, consider the feeling projected by the leaning forms in Part II of
> "The critics" versus "the critics"
> "Russell's admiration for Vivienne, however, was mixed with disgust for
> her and, because he was intellectually and socially her superior (like
> Dostoevsky's underground man with the prostitute), with contempt for
> himself. He described one of his trysts with her in terms that open a
> window on Eliot's marital situation. The night with Vivienne, Russell
> complained, was
> "utter hell. There was a quality of loathsomeness about it which I can't
> describe." He grumbled that sex with Vivienne left him with "nausea" and
> "horrible nightmares". Eliot himself did not comment on his sexual life,
> but if Vivienne had this effect upon a seasoned philanderer, one can only
> imagine the effect she had upon a shy and sexually inhibited puritan."
> -- Jewel Spears Brooker, 'Mimetic desire and the return to origins in The
> Waste Land '
> "The middle section of this poem ['The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock'],
> 'Prufrock's Pervigilium', was apparently dropped at aiken's urging...
> Here there are whispers of children, women in hallways; such sensations
> arouse experiences of peculiar horror in Prufrock: the houses themselves
> seem to be pointing and laughing at him, and there are intimations of
> madness as the world itself falls apart. It would be absurd to find here
> only the material of private confession -- much of the poetry is
> established upon literary models and is invested with a dramatic tone that
> precludes facile identification."
> -- Peter Ackroyd, 'T.S. Eliot : A Life'
> Here are just a couple of instances of "the critics" who try to understand
> a poet with sensitivity -- and who take pains to set the record straight.
> There are "the critics", however, towards the other end of the matrix who
> present an interesting study in contrast.
> Yes, Peter, "Being extremely aware, and being sensitive, are not the same