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Wallace Fowlie on T.S. Eliot and "Ash Wednesday"
By Marc DeGirolami
Thursday, February 22, 2018
'I thought about Professor Fowlie, who passed away in 1998, twenty years ago, in reading a little pamphlet of his published in 1994 titled, "Dante Today: A Personal Essay." Here is a passage of it for Lent, concerning an encounter in his youth with T.S. Eliot:'
[Then come 10 short paragraphs describing the stalking of Eliot at Harvard during 1932-33 when he was giving the Charles Eliot Norton lectures. The excerpt below comes from a paragraph about Eliot's leaving a Christmas Eve mass.]
Between us and Eliot, we noticed in the very slow moving crowd, a tall fellow we had seen in the Harvard yard. He was a graduate student. The church was quiet and we filed out. Suddenly, this student, whom we did not know, opened his mouth and recited in a strong voice a line in Italian, which he obviously directed at Eliot. We could see Eliot cringe and try to move faster in order to get out of the church.
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