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TSE  August 2015

TSE August 2015

Subject:

Re: Letter of Recommendation: 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock'

From:

James Loucks <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Thu, 6 Aug 2015 18:08:46 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (201 lines)

I think Emily Hale put it best, when talking about TSE to her students at Scripps College just before TSE's visit there in January 1933: She called him "a man of extremes." -- Jim
--------------------------------------------
On Thu, 8/6/15, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

 Subject: Re: Letter of Recommendation: 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock'
 To: [log in to unmask]
 Date: Thursday, August 6, 2015, 6:04 PM
 
 I agree
 about the public/private conflicts, but they were not
 consistent either. He was, for example, variably kind to
 Djuna Barnes--writing with admiration about Nightwood
 but--in her experience--betraying that later when he was
 both dismissive and a bit cold to her about a later book.
 And he was not always kind to others in private life, in
 fact, not at all to many. But he was, as you say, not just
 one persona. I think the sustained affirmation of Maurras
 was a part of that "ugly politics," if Ken Ascher
 is at all accurate--and he has pretty serious evidence.
 
  
 What seems important to me is that he was clearly not a
 single (and thus simple) person; he was as complicated as
 the poems and always, I think, conflicted.
 Nancy
 
 >>> James Loucks
 <[log in to unmask]>
 08/06/15 5:23 PM >>>
 
 
 
 You make a very valuable point, Nancy.
  
 There is also the public/private dichotomy: in his
 private life, he was invariably kind, generous and
 sympathetic to deserving young writers, for instance, and to
 people who were very ill, or who had fallen into unfortunate
 circumstances. His deeply held faith tended, as well, to
 modulate his public acts and activities, it seems to me.
 
  
 And regarding Maurras: he later said that despite
 Maurras’s shortcomings including his not being an ardent
 Catholic, he (Maurras) saw the positive social value and
 culturally unifying effect of the Church in France. -- 
 Jim
  
 
 
  
 
 From: Nancy Gish
 
 Sent: Thursday, August 06, 2015 4:37 PM
 To: [log in to unmask]
 
 Subject: Re: Letter of Recommendation: 'The
 Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock'
  
 
 I am interested in the fact that this was written
 without any checking: "Eliot’s ugly politics
 couldn’t diminish the radical, explosive force of his
 poetry."
  
 I have been delighted to see that Robert Crawford's
 new biography of the "young Eliot" affirms also
 what I have thought for years: that at the time of
 "Prufrock" Eliot was not the person whose politics
 later became "ugly." In fact, in 1919 he called
 himself a "liberal" and also said that although at
 home he was a conservative, in England he was a
 "Labourite." He seemed to change pretty
 drastically between then and 1924 when he said he was
 "all for Empire" and very reactionary.
  
 While he read Maurras in the Paris year and, as Ascher
 claims, remained influenced by it all his life, he also read
 Bergson that year, and at the time of writing
 "Prufrock," he said, he was "completely
 Bergsonian." He was reading widely and thinking through
 very contrasting ideas. The reactionary and no doubt
 "ugly" politics (and even those were somewhat
 mixed) came later. Crawford's book looks very
 intensively at the person he was up through TWL, and the
 person who wrote "Prufrock" did not have the
 thorough and seemingly complete world view of the later
 Eliot--in fact, was  "completely Bergsonian" by
 his own account. The "radically explosive force"
 did not then conflict with his politics as it may have with
 the older person who wrote the late poems.
  
 Nancy
 
 >>>
 "[log in to unmask]"
 <[log in to unmask]>
 08/06/15 3:19 PM >>>
 He probably
 meant Arnold.
 
 Good to see
 in the underlying piece that we are getting away from the
 usual image of Prufrock as pathetically comic and
 interestingly bland. As I have said here in the past I
 credit Prufrock (and therefore Eliot as his creator) with
 more of an inner life. Just his (Prufrock's and
 Eliot's) capability to evoke so much in the poem belies
 the usual famous analysis.
 
 N.B. I also think Arnold is famously
 misunderstood.
 
 Sent from
 my iPhone
 
 > On Aug 6,
 2015, at 3:05 PM, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
 
 >
 > James Loucks: Do
 you mean as in the ancient test for pure gold? Or the
 Arnoldian literary touchstone? -- Jim Loucks
 >
 > It's been 50+
 years since I read "The Forsaken Merman" -- which
 might have an interesting connection with "Till human
 voices wake us. . . ." Some bright under-grad might
 work on it.
 >
 >
 Carrol
 >
 >
 >
 >
 > From: P <[log in to unmask]>
 > To: [log in to unmask]
 > Sent: Thursday, August 6, 2015 12:18 PM
 
 > Subject: Re: Letter of Recommendation:
 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock'
 >
 >
 > Prufrock is touchstone.
 > P.
 >
 >
 >
 >
 >> On 6 Aug 2015
 5:10 am, "Rickard A. Parker"
 <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
 >>
 >> Another
 recommendation:
 >>
 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/magazine/letter-of-recommendation-the-love-song-of-j-alfred-prufrock.html?_r=0
 <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/magazine/letter-of-recommendation-the-love-song-of-j-alfred-prufrock.html?_r=0>
 
 >>
 >> The New
 York Times Magazine
 >> Letter of
 Recommendation: 'The Love Song of J. Alfred
 Prufrock'
 >> August 6, 2015
 >> By Mark Levine
 >>
 >> Mark Levine
 has written for the magazine since 2002. His new book of
 poems, ‘‘Travels of Marco,’’ will be published in
 2016.
 >>
 >>
 
 >> The last paragraph:
 >>
 >> I lost
 myself in its winding passageways and felt momentarily
 reunited with my teenage self, transported into a world of
 frightening, delirious possibility. ‘‘Prufrock’’
 could restore me to the primal necessities of poetry like
 nothing else. It wasn’t the same poem I discovered years
 earlier, nor the poem my students read, but with disarming
 specificity, ‘‘Prufrock’’ remained capable of
 speaking to an enduring desire for something larger than
 myself, made available through the shape-shifting powers of
 the imagination. ‘‘Why is the poem called a love
 song?’’ a student asked. It was a good question. I
 turned to the class. ‘‘Is Prufrock in love?’’ Long
 silence. Then a student spoke: ‘‘Yes,’’ she said.
 ‘‘In love with poetry.’’
 >>
 
 >> A version of this article appears
 in print on August 9, 2015, on page MM20 of the Sunday
 Magazine with the headline: ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred
 Prufrock’.
 

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