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
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.
>>> 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. --
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
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.
"[log in to unmask]"
<[log in to unmask]>
08/06/15 3:19 PM >>>
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
> 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.
> 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.
>> On 6 Aug 2015
5:10 am, "Rickard A. Parker"
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> The New
York Times Magazine
>> Letter of
Recommendation: 'The Love Song of J. Alfred
>> 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
>> 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