On Sun, 25 Aug 2013 13:51:04 -0400, Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>"Various critics have done me the honour to interpret the poem in terms of
criticism of the contemporary world, have considered it, indeed, as an
important bit of social criticism. To me it was only the relief of a
personal and wholly insignificant grouse against life; it is just a piece of
rhythmical grumbling." 1
>As to the 'grouse' remark, it remains a hearsay.
Legally, yes. But let's look at a few things:
The remark was supposed to be by TSE but it was reported by Theodore Spencer.
Is it likely that that Eliot said it or wrote it to Spencer? Who was Spencer?
What was the supposed Eliot/Spenser relationship? See below.
The man who recorded (I suppose that means "wrote down") the remark was Henry
Ware Eliot Jr., TSE's brother. Is it a remark that HWE would think fit or not
fit TWL? We don't really know and we don't know of any notational comment HWE
may have attached to his notes. But is it likely that HWE was out to destroy
TSE's acheivement? HSE was a big fan of lil' bro'.
The person who passed on the remark to the world was TSE's widow. Is it likely
that she might have known a bit about TWL that the public didn't? Did she add
collaborating evidence? Yes, in the remark about Eliot's "state of mind". Was
it a shame that she didn't cite these statements? Darn tootin' but do you
think she made them up to destroy TSE's achievement? She was a big fan of
How did VE hear of HWE's remark? Not likely from HWE himself. I think he
years before the Eliot's marriage. It must have been written down and available
somewhere. Like the draft of TWL, it is likely to show up sometime.
How accurate is the quote after passing through a few hands? This is conjecture
on my part but I would say it is pretty accurate. It sounds as if it is
that TSE wrote, not said. Spencer could have copied it down into his notes from
a letter. Spencer was a lecturer at Harvard and HWE worked at Harvard and lived
just a minute or two from Harvard Yard (depending upon whether there was any
traffic on the street he had to cross.) I think it is pretty likely that TSE,
HSE and TS had some lunches or dinners together when Eliot was at Harvard in
1932-33. Spencer had been appointed Eliot's sponsor/facilitator for the visit.
So, while HWE could have messed up his notes during the lecture he probably
would have gone to Spencer to get an accuracy check on the grumbling quote and
other things that Spencer said.
Every couple of years I check up online on the "grumbling" quote. I still
haven't found what I've been looking for but maybe with the passing of Mrs.
something that was held back for her to publish will be let loose upon the
P.S. - I've been on vacation the last week (Damn! Vermont is gorgeous.) Other
comments on what has passed in the last week may be coming in in dribs and
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Theodore Spencer (1902–1949) was an American poet and academic.
He graduated from Princeton University in 1923, and a Ph.D from Harvard
University in 1928. He then taught there, from 1927 to 1949. He was
appointed lecturer in English literature at Cambridge University, England,
in 1939. In 1942, Spencer gave the Lowell lectures on Shakespeare, published
as Shakespeare and the Nature of Man, his most important work. Spencer also
published essays, short stories, and poetry.
Education: A Cow for Spencer
Monday, Apr. 22, 1946
In 1939, in a fit of economy, Harvard University fired a young poet and
assistant professor of English named Theodore Spencer. Cambridge University
promptly offered him a lectureship—but war broke before he could take it.
Harvard, properly impressed, Lend-Leased him as a "visiting professor" from
Cambridge. Last week, Harvard, which has been increasingly impressed by Ted
Spencer since then, appointed him, at 44, to the prestigious, 140year-old
Boylston Professorship of "Rhetoric & Oratory (first chairholder: John
Quincy Adams; last: Poet Robert S. Hillyer).
Spencer, tall (a stooping 6 ft. 5 in.), strawberry-blond, and...
To continue reading:
The Poetry of T.S. Eliot
by Theodore Spencer
In The Atlantic Monthly, January 1933, pp. 60-67
T. S. ELIOT
The Theodore Spencer Memorial Lecture
November 21, 1950
FABER & FABER'LTD
24 Russell Square
First published in mcmli
by Faber and Faber Limited
24 Russell Square, London, W.C.i
Printed and bound in Great Britain by
William Clowes and Sons, Limited
London and Beccles
All rights reserved
It is a customary act of respect that the lecturer on a founda-
tion should begin by saying something about the nwn in
whose name the lectureship was founded. The fact that
between Theodore Spencer and myself there had been a long
friendship terminated only by death, was (I believe) the primary
reason for my being asked to inaugurate this series: as it was
Certainly my primary reason for accepting the honour.
Except when there has been some accident to fix it in my
memory, I find that I seldom remember the occasion of my first
meeting with anyone who has subsequently become an associate
or friend. I am not now sure whether I first met Theodore
Spencer while he was an undergraduate at Trinity College,
Cambridge, or on some later visit that he paid to Englandfor
he loved Cambridge and liked to return there. I had certainly
met him in England, and probably several times, before I came
to Harvard as Norton Professor in 1932.- But it was during that
year, when I saw him almost every day ) at Eliot House, or in
his own home, or in the company of mutual friends, that we
were closely associated; and it was through this constant
frequentation that I came to love and appreciate the man. He
put his time most generously at my disposal; helped me at every
juncture with a course of lectures to a small class which he him-
self had been instrumental in selecting; and there was no detail
of daily life in which he was not ready to give aid, and no
material need which he was not anxious to anticipate. And the
day on which he did not drop in for a chat before lunch, was
always a duller day than the others.
After 1933 1 saw him) of course, only at intervals. He visited
England several times I remember that he was present, in
Cambridge, at the Encaenia at which I received a doctor's
degree, and I remember his pleasure in the event. Between
visits, we carried on a desultory correspondence. In 1938, or per-
haps early in 1939, the rumour reached us in England that
economies were being effected, which might be adverse to his
promotion or security of tenure at Harvard, and I was a party
to the manoeuvres of some of his friends in Cambridge, Eng-
land, toward obtaining for him a Lectureship there. In 1939 he
was appointed to a Lectureship at Cambridge University, but
owing to the outbreak of war, the immediate reduction in the
numbers of students in the English Tripos, and the consequent
reduction in the number of tutors, it was deemed best that his
appointment should be deferred. This was a great disappoint-
ment to his friends in England; but on the other hand, we had
the pleasure of hearing of his reappointment to Harvard as
'visiting lecturer from Cambridge University. } It was not long
before he received promotion.
I should like to add a note which I hope is not indiscreet.
When the august position ofBoylston Professor became vacant,
Ted Spencer was not one to covet that post for himself. He wrote
to me privately, to ask whether I would consider the position
if my name were put forward. Well, there were several reasons,
both private and public, why I could not regard myself as
eligible : not the least of which was my lack of scholarship /
think I told him that I should have had to spend all my spare
time reading the books I ought to have read, and would have no
leisure left for writing. My delight and satisfaction were great
when I read that he himself had received that distinguished
Though I do not remember our first meeting, I remember very
clearly our last. It was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just
before my return to London, and only a few weeks before his
death. He was full of enthusiasm for the work he was to under-
take that year; he appeared in better health, and more radiantly
happy, than I had ever seen him; and I thought that he had
many years of both scholarly and creative work and of useful
influence before him.
I do not need to remind those who knew him, or indeed those
who were even slightly acquainted with him, of the charm of
his personality, his interest in human beings, his gaiety, sense of
humour and conviviality with a bearing such that he could
put his pupils on terms of informal equality, without ever
losing his dignity or their respect. He had several traits, in
happy combination, which made him a good teacher. His stan-
dards of scholarship were high, and his view of English studies
was humane; he mixed with men of letters in New York and
London, as well as in the universities; and was perfectly at ease
in society, whether intellectual society or not, so that he knew
his students as human beings, not merely as candidates for
degrees. He had a sensitive appreciation of the best in contem-
porary literature; and his own poetic gift was genuine. His
poetry had developed, and would I believe have gone on to still
greater strength after he had further assimilated and re-created
the powerful influence of Yeats. But I have left to the last, men-
tion of those characteristics which most endeared him as a
friend: humility, charity, generosity, and what I can only call
a fundamental goodness.
In choosing a subject, I have had in mind that it should be a
subject in some way related to Theodore Spencer's interests,
and that it should be a subject on which he himself would have
liked to hear me.
T. S. Eliot '10 has donated $650 to the Theodore Spencer Memorial Fund, the
University announced yesterday.
This gift includes the fee of his lecture on "Poetry and Drama," the first
Theodore Spencer Memorial Lecture, royalties from reprinting the lecture in
the Atlantic Monthly, and rights from the University's publication of
Eliot's lecture in book form this month.
The Theodore Spencer Memorial Fund honors the memory of the late Boylston
Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory, who died in November, 1949.