Anand Iyer:

I hope I do not offend by offering basic advice.  That is not my intention.

Don't get so lost in Verdenal and the titillating idea of prying into TSE's
"secret life" that you lose track of the poem.   Be sure you are well
familiar with the more mundane readings of "The Waste Land" such as Nancy
Gish offers in her "The Waste Land: A Student's Companion to the Poem",
Jewel Spear Brooker and Joseph Bentley's "Reading The Waste Land" and of
course the measuring stick, Grover Smith's "The Waste Land".  BTW, each of
these works I cited have remarkably different insights to the poem.  None of
them are simple so be prepared for hard study with any of them.   As it is
the shortest and more directly pointed at the student, Nancy Gish is
probably the best place to start.  There are numerous other readings of "The
Waste Land".  My personal library has at least 6 more books where TWL is
dealt with in detail.  None of these "traditional" readings assign any
significance to Verdenal at all.  This is not to say that they are right but
just to caution against assigning undue significance to Mr Eugenides and
Verdenal.  The Waste Land is a very complex poem and operates on many
levels.  TSE's allusions point in many directions.  A single minded inquiry
can easily lose much of the texture that is in The Waste Land such as
shadows under red rocks where I often hide from the list in embarrassment

Rick Seddon
McIntosh, NM, USA

-----Original Message-----
From: Rickard Parker <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Monday, March 26, 2001 7:56 PM
Subject: Re: TSE and Jean Verdenal

>Anand Iyer wrote:
>> While doing research for my report, I have come across some information
>> on Eliot and Verdenal having "more" than a friendship with each other.
>> One book pointed out that in The Waste Land, Mr. Eugenides, the Smyrna
>> merchant, was being gay to the protagonist. Can anyone shed some more
>> light on this? What do y'all personally believe.
>For a quick synopsis you want to read my web page on Eliot and Verdenal at
>That will direct you to a paper by John Peter, one by George Watson,
>Miller's book and John T. Mayer's "T.S. Eliot's Silent Voices." Lamos
>also has a bit on Verdendal on pp. 113-114.  Fred D. Crawford's "Mixing
>Memory and Desire" has some interesting stuff in the chapter on Richard
>Aldington.  In "The Letters of T.S. Eliot." vol. I you will find a number
>of letters from Verdenal to TSE in French and in translation.  The best
>of all this bunch is Miller's book which deals mainly with Verdenal and
>Eliot's first marriage.
>You are not going to find smoking gun type evidence in any of the above
>nor as I recollect even an accusation.  You are going to have to make up
>your own mind about the exact nature of the relationship.  I have come
>to the conclusion that it does not matter if the relationship was a
>homosexual one or not.  To me it comes down to a strong attachment and
>perhaps feelings of guilt on TSE's part for some wandering thougths that
>he may have had.
>I have more on Verdenal at a different part of my web site.  Go to
>(or explore6.html if you have a large monitor and many dpi).  From there
>check out the gray "comment" links to the right of some of the lines in the
>poem (the yellow ones are not so daring.)
>As for Eugenides the general consensus was that he made a homosexual
>propostion.  B.C. Southam's "A Guide to the Selected Poems of T.S.
>Eliot," p. 170 discusses Eugenides as a real incident.  The currants may
>be an allusion to Walt Whitman's "These, I, Singing in Spring" where the
>narrator collects objects for lovers and comrades.  The poem can be found
>at   Another image though for the
>currants is withered grapes where the grapes represent Christ
>(from his sermon on the fruit of the vine.)
>Also there is this comment I just posted:
>> I think that there is another reason for Mr Eugenides being from
>> Smyrna, other than the London Conference.  Smyrna also happens to be
>> the name of Adonis' mother.  She had an "unholy love" for her father
>> and this incest produced Adonis.  This reinforces the unshaven/unclean
>> Mr. Eugenides making an "unholy" proposition.  It also causes me to
>> see this as the negative side to the resurrection of Phlebas (or the
>> Hyacinth girl.)  Eliot sees his friend reborn in poetry but it is not
>> all good, guilty thoughts arise with the dead too.  And before I'm
>> accused of gay bashing let me say that I'm using the words "unholy"
>> and "unclean" above in a way that the poet might use them (if he ever
>> discussed his work.)
>   Rick Parker