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TSE  October 2011

TSE October 2011

Subject:

Re: Patricia Sloane's Bleistein book (was Re: Patricia Sloane's Key to 'The Waste Land')

From:

Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Tue, 4 Oct 2011 18:24:05 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (349 lines)

There certainly is something satirical in an 18th C. sort of way. Lends to 
the dramatic deffect.

P.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Peter Dillane" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 11:03 PM
Subject: Re: Patricia Sloane's Bleistein book (was Re: Patricia Sloane's Key 
to 'The Waste Land')


> Hi Carrol,
>
> ok leaving aside that equitone is closer to pig latin than a challenging 
> anagram and I wonder if Eliot talked that parle ( Americans on the list 
> will have to enlighten me whether that seems likely ) more to the point. 
> If we say hidden meanings are irrelevant  to the readingness what do you 
> think about Ricks' extended analysis of the name Mrs Equitone in terms of 
> tone as it reflects national identity, foreignness and so on. Is that 
> similarly not helpful? and for the same reasons?
>
> Cheers Pete
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Carrol Cox" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 4:09 PM
> Subject: Re: Patricia Sloane's Bleistein book (was Re: Patricia Sloane's 
> Key to 'The Waste Land')
>
>
>> Finding anagrams sounds as off the wall as numerological studies of 
>> Milton. I was never much of an admirer of Douglas Bush, but he had a 
>> great title for a review of one of those books: "Calculus Wracked Him." 
>> Since for three years a was a cryptanalyst for NSA, I picked up some 
>> rigorous criteria for accepting any decipherment. The main one is tht 
>> there must be a c  control . You demonstrate in just a few sentences that 
>> there is no possible control for any finding of "hidden meanings" in 
>> anarams in Eliot. The problem with all dicoveries of "hidden meanings in 
>> any work is  their irrelevancy to reading the work. There's a person on 
>> the Austen list who has, apparently,written a book showing that each of 
>> Austen's novels  is really a private code telling a completely different 
>> story from the "visible" story. Dull. Dull. Dull. In the same category 
>> are those conspiracy theories that see 9/11 as being a secret plot by 
>> Bush or the CIA or Little  Orphan Annie. And the plot always grows bigger 
>> and bigger. Now it has to include Obama & Clinton, since they must have 
>> foundout about it but are keeping the secret for dark and hidden reasons. 
>> Wonderful!
>>
>> Carrol
>>
>> On 10/3/2011 1:38 PM, Tom Colket wrote:
>>>
>>> I got Pat's book and read it when it first came out in 2001.
>>>
>>> I am very reluctant to say much about the book for three main reasons:
>>>
>>>     a) She is no longer here to defend her work.
>>>
>>>     b) Because Pat passed away after publishing only one of three 
>>> volumes, it seems unfair to criticize arguments that may have been more 
>>> fully developed in the two volumes she did not live long enough to 
>>> produce.
>>>
>>>     c) Pat had a loyal following on the List, and I have no interest in 
>>> starting a flame war.
>>>
>>>
>>> That said, I will mention that, while I saw merit in individual items 
>>> she talked about, I found her overall thesis unconvincing and not 
>>> helpful in my Eliot studies. Her main thesis is that five of Eliot's 
>>> early poems (and a later one) "form an organic sequence, and provide a 
>>> comic or absurdist improvisation on Dante's Commedia". The poems that 
>>> Pat identifies in this highly unexpected claim are 'Burbank with a 
>>> Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar', 'Dirge', 'Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning 
>>> Service', 'The Hippopotamus', 'The Hollow Men', and 'The Waste Land'. 
>>> For more details, see "Table 1" below, taken from the preface to her 
>>> book.
>>>
>>> Her second thesis that I found unconvincing was her assertion the Eliot 
>>> used anagrams to put hidden messages in the poems. For example, in her 
>>> essay, "Notes and Observations on T. S. Eliot's Early Poems", she 
>>> writes, concerning Mrs. Equitone from The Waste Land, that "The letters 
>>> in her name, rearranged, spell 'quiet one' ". While that is factually 
>>> true, I see no reason to assume that Eliot chose the name 'Equitone' to 
>>> produce this anagram. You could also note that the name "Equitone" can 
>>> be anagrammed into "Queen to I": Is that Eliot saying Mrs. Equitone is 
>>> actually his wife Vivienne (his queen)?? And once you start looking at 
>>> text as anagrams, there is no end to it. Listers back then noted that 
>>> the letters in "The Waste Land" could be anagrammed into "The Lewd 
>>> Satan", but this doesn't mean that the poem is actually about the devil.
>>>
>>> Anyway, if there is any interest in discussion of her Burbank book, I 
>>> will try to contribute.
>>>
>>> -- Tom --
>>>
>>> ============================================================================
>>> (From the preface to the first book)
>>>
>>> This book is the first of three volumes that deal with T. S. Eliot's use 
>>> of literary sources in the five early poems listed in Table 1 (page 3). 
>>> My thesis is that the poems form an organic sequence, and provide a 
>>> comic or absurdist improvisation on Dante's Commedia. A protagonist, who 
>>> may finally prove to be the reader, makes two consecutive journeys 
>>> through hell, purgatory, and heaven, Dante's three kingdoms of death.
>>>
>>> Eliot's poems have long been characterized as formless but compelling 
>>> collages made largely or entirely of quotations, adapted quotations, and 
>>> paraphrases borrowed from the works of other authors. The absurdist or 
>>> Dadaist "narrative" that we shall review in this and the following 
>>> volumes has been overlooked primarily because Eliot constructs it 
>>> largely from puns and witticisms that turn on details in his "source" 
>>> works. Contrary to received wisdom, we may need to read the poems and 
>>> their literary sources with equal care, not merely the sources cited in 
>>> the notes to The Waste Land but the many more that over the years were 
>>> either recognized by readers or pointed out by Eliot himself.
>>> The net result of Eliot's idiosyncratic methodology is that each of the 
>>> five poems is actually a double poem, a form we had not expected to find 
>>> and which may never be imitated. We can continue to read the poems as we 
>>> have always read them, feeling no particular compulsion to dip into the 
>>> little library of great books that we know lies behind each of them. 
>>> These fragment-poems charm, they suggest. They enchanted generations of 
>>> readers, and brought to T.S. Eliot almost every literary honor any 
>>> committee had the power to bestow. Here, we shall see the other side of 
>>> the picture, the side that emerges if we give the necessary and 
>>> sufficient weight to the source works, reading many or most in their 
>>> entirety. Thus properly framed, the picture shifts and changes. 
>>> Fragmented passages that previously seemed vaguely meaningful, 
>>> suggestive, tragic, reform in an instant as something else entirely: a 
>>> coherent, comic narrative that tells a familiar story.
>>>
>>> This turn-around may not be as surprising as it seems. For a poet to 
>>> consciously or unconsciously borrow a few words from another because the 
>>> words "sound nice" is a fairly common occurrence. To make so slight a 
>>> criterion the backbone of a style, however, might be witless, and 
>>> Christopher Ricks wisely distinguishes between an allusion and a source 
>>> ("An allusion predicates a source, but not vice versa"). An allusion 
>>> "calls" (to mind) some aspect of the source work, which in turn becomes 
>>> an integral part of the work from which it is being called. It need 
>>> hardly be added that we are in no position to understand what, if 
>>> anything, is being "called" from a source work if we have only a limited 
>>> familiarity with that source work. I have no quarrel with the familiar 
>>> insistence, encouraged by Eliot, that the notes to The Waste Land are a 
>>> joke. The question is whether we make too many assumptions, and the 
>>> wrong assumptions, on what the joke is supposed to be about, and on 
>>> whom.
>>>
>>> ====================================
>>> Table 1:
>>> Vol 1: 'Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar' (Inferno)
>>> Vol 1: 'Dirge' (Inferno)
>>>
>>> Vol 2: 'Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service' (Purgatorio)
>>> Vol 2: 'The Hippopotamus' (Paradiso)
>>>
>>> Vol 3: 'The Hollow Men' (Purgatorio)
>>> Vol 3: 'The Waste Land' (Inferno)
>>> ====================================
>>>
>>> Table 1 lists the Cantica to which each of Eliot's five poems 
>>> corresponds, and the volume in which each is reviewed. Note that the 
>>> second "pilgrimage" (The Waste Land as Inferno, The Hollow Men as 
>>> Purgatorio) has no Paradiso, an omission open to at least two 
>>> understandings. Perhaps Eliot's second Paradiso is so exquisitely 
>>> ephemeral that it does not exist, a farcical possibility less 
>>> far-fetched than it may seem. Built into all five poems, but especially 
>>> Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service, is insistent "philosophical" wit (or 
>>> Harvard humor) about that over-debated dog of an abstruse question from 
>>> undergraduate philosophy classes: whether nothing should be regarded as 
>>> "something."
>>> Although the nothing-something issue can be entertaining, I suggest we 
>>> take the alternate route by looking more closely at Dante's Paradiso, 
>>> especially cantos 20, 32, and 33. Although we all learned to read the 
>>> Commedia as an allegory about Christians and pagans, I believe Eliot 
>>> noticed it may read more coherently as an allegory about Christians, 
>>> pagans, and Jews. If Eliot's elaborate improvisations implement a 
>>> dominant purpose, it may be to encourage the reader to notice the same 
>>> thing. Given that Eliot's readers by and large are not Dante scholars, 
>>> this is a formidable authorial undertaking, addressed by a simple 
>>> methodology. Eliot read the Temple Classics edition of the Commedia 
>>> (which I have also used) and the annotation, by Wicksteed and Oelsner, 
>>> is uneven. Many or most of our poet's borrowings are from passages in 
>>> which the annotators miss the point, an effective way of singling out 
>>> those very passages for the reader's further consideration. Eliot may 
>>> have noticed th
>> e insufficiencies of the annotators, and made a game of playing with what 
>> they overlooked. It is a symmetrical but intricate game, and many of 
>> Eliot's borrowings are indirect. For example, Cleopatra, or her barge, 
>> are invoked in borrowings from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra that 
>> appear in both Burbank (11-12) and The Waste Land (77). One might not 
>> notice immediately that Cleopatra also appears in the Commedia. What is 
>> being allusively "called" is both the secondary work and the Commedia as 
>> a primary source.
>>> ============================================================================
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Date: Sun, 2 Oct 2011 21:24:23 -0600
>>> From: [log in to unmask]
>>> Subject: Re: Patricia Sloane's Bleistein book (was Re: Patricia Sloane's 
>>> Key to 'The Waste Land')
>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Nancy
>>>
>>> I did not mean to offend but could not sit still and let Dr. Sloane’s 
>>> work be summarily dismissed.
>>>
>>> BTW, in my reading of her book I found some of her positions to be 
>>> convincing and others not so.  Again, I would encourage all to read the 
>>> book.  If possible the reading should be done with Julius close at hand.
>>>
>>> Rick Seddon
>>> Portales, NM
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On 
>>> Behalf Of Nancy Gish
>>> Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2011 7:41 PM
>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>> Subject: Re: Patricia Sloane's Bleistein book (was Re: Patricia Sloane's 
>>> Key to 'The Waste Land')
>>>
>>>
>>> I suggest that whatever I wrote was based in scholarly analysis and 
>>> valid argument, and I have no reason whatever to "recuse" myself. 
>>> Scholarly debate is not a legal structure, but it does depend on 
>>> evidence and knowledge.  To suggest that I had any personal animosity 
>>> toward a person I never met and had no opinion about personally whatever 
>>> is outrageous. So, too, is the idea that my disagreements with her way 
>>> of reading is in any way whatever outside appropriate debate. Neither I 
>>> nor anyone on this list has any obligation to assent to, agree with, or 
>>> even take seriously the claims of any other.  This is a list for 
>>> discussion, and for me that means a basis in scholarship.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> This is deeply offensive, Rick, and I'm sorry to see it from you.
>>>
>>> Nancy
>>>>>> Richard Seddon 10/02/11 9:34 PM>>>
>>> Dear List
>>>
>>> I have read Pat Sloane?s book and found it a refreshing exception to the 
>>> morass of unthinking, unsubstantiated and undocumented use of the poems 
>>> in worshipful adoration of Julius?s single minded crusade of showing TSE 
>>> as the ultimate intellectual anti-Semitic.
>>>
>>> Pat Sloane presented her ideas in an extremely well documented and well 
>>> sourced book.  To read it and Julius?s book is to be struck immediately 
>>> by the immense scholarly effort that Pat brought to her book.  Julius?s 
>>> book does not fair well at all in the comparison.
>>>
>>> I would suggest that a scholarly critique of Sloane?s book is badly 
>>> needed and If that critique results in her book being dismissed so be 
>>> it, but, to dismiss it without that critique is the anti-thesis of 
>>> scholarship.
>>>
>>> Until that critique is forthcoming I would encourage all members of this 
>>> list to read the book and form their own opinions.
>>>
>>> Nancy and Pat?s animus was a continuing soap opera on this list.  Having 
>>> read through those blistering posts for several years I would suggest 
>>> that Nancy recluse herself from offering expert opinion on Pat Sloane?s 
>>> work.
>>>
>>> Rick Seddon
>>> Portales, NM
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On 
>>> Behalf Of [log in to unmask]
>>> Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2011 6:11 PM
>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>> Subject: Re: Patricia Sloane's Bleistein book (was Re: Patricia Sloane's 
>>> Key to 'The Waste Land')
>>>
>>>
>>> If Nancy is alluding to the review by William Logan in the NY Times, I 
>>> would only add that it is both amusing and distressing to see so much 
>>> attention now directed toward the poetry in the context of the life of 
>>> the poet instead of his writings as a separation from the life.  I 
>>> assume that a collection of letters would naturally veer towards the 
>>> biographical but this new frenzied attention to the man instead of the 
>>> works is somewhat offensive; though Logan, whose criticism of 
>>> contemporary poetry is usually quite piercing and astute, does seem like 
>>> less of a voyeur than other reviewers I have read.  Perhaps, in this 
>>> celebrity-besotted age, one can expect no less of the Times or its 
>>> readers.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Eugene Schlanger
>>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Nancy Gish<[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: TSE<[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Sun, Oct 2, 2011 1:54 pm
>>> Subject: Re: Patricia Sloane's Bleistein book (was Re: Patricia Sloane's 
>>> Key to 'The Waste Land')
>>>
>>>
>>> I read Pat's posts and excerpts for years.  I did not feel the book 
>>> would clarify anything. So I am seriously interested in whether there 
>>> were any reviews by Eliot scholars--if anyone wants to check. Had I seen 
>>> any in journals, I would probably have read them.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> I agree with much of your previous post, but I think the confusion may 
>>> well be a valid response to what--in all those posts and excerpts--was 
>>> genuinely confusing--a morass of speculation.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Meanwhile, the NYTimes Book Review has another review today of the 
>>> Letters. I am reading student essays, so it's sitting here.  But it is 
>>> interesting that all of a sudden there are so many.  I have found Louis 
>>> Menand's the most interesting so far.
>>>
>>> Nancy
>>>
>>>>>> Ken Armstrong<[log in to unmask]>  10/02/11 1:24 PM>>>
>>> Surely you read some when you read the book upon its publication? Any to
>>> share?
>>>
>>> Nancy Gish wrote:
>>>> The "review" by Scheer is just his blog. Are there any reviews in
>>>> modernist or literary journals?
>>>> N
>>>>
>>>>>>> Chokh Raj 10/01/11 3:42 PM>>>
>>>> That's what the reviewer says. I've only made it into a heading.
>>>>
>>>> I look forward to reading the book.
>> 

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