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My point, and probably Ken's too, is that I'd rather have a biography that's
a quarter the size, which sticks to the facts and leaves out the
interpretation. I know that some people are specifically interested in
interpretation of lives, but I am not, and certainly not by people with a
decent grounding in cognitive and other forms of modern psychology (which is
to say of the last 20 years). I'd much rather have the facts speak for
themselves so that I can use them as I please whilst interpreting a poem or
a poet.

Notice that I did say that Gordon had more facts than Akroyd. I just wish
that they'd have been more accessible. A CD-ROM would have been a great help
here - she could have listed all the facts, and attach interpretations for
those who are interested. That would leave the reader with the choice to
read around them. Now, when you (or, in this case, I) really disagree with
the interpretations, or just plainly don't like them, they tend to get
disproportionally annoying. For the Eliot site I extracted facts about Eliot
up to 1922 that I thought were interesting from both biographies and to get
the interesting morsels from Gordon took a lot of sifting.

Interpretations are for me fiction by default. It's perhaps hard to say what
interpretations really are, but since I won't call them fact, I tend to
rather harshly call them fiction. That's perhaps not really fair - there is
probably a smooth line between fact and fiction, and each individual
interpretation is somewhere along that line, sometimes closer to fact,
sometimes closer to fiction. I only read the most recent version of the
biography, and a lot of the interpretation part of that massive work I
simply don't buy - although then again I bought the book anyway ... ;-)

Arwin


> Dear Ken,
>
> As I don't know Gordon but am greatly impressed by her scrupulous pursuit
> of every shred of available information, and as I am more prone
> to think her
> unduly deferential to TSE's self-created legacy (in the first two books
> especially), I am very interested in what --specifically--you
> disagree with
> and what you know about her as a source that I don't.  Is there some
> reason to see her as not scrupulous or as prejudiced?  Why is she a less
> reliable source than, say, Ackroyd?
>
> Nancy
>
> Date sent:      	Wed, 7 Mar 2001 14:00:56 -0500
> Send reply to:  	[log in to unmask]
> From:           	Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]>
> To:             	[log in to unmask]
> Subject:        	RE: Eliot's letters--Gordon's Biography
>
> Message-ID: <[log in to unmask]
> >
> Priority: NORMAL
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>
> Dear Nancy,
>
>  Interesting, makes me think of my old favorite Katherine Anne Porter who,
> like many others, described fiction as creating lies to tell the truth. I
> do see your point, but if I disagree with Gordon's interpretation, it is
> because I think it is not true, and if I think it is not true, I guess I'm
> stuck if someone says I'm calling it a fiction--how can I disagree--though
> that kind of fiction may not (is all but cerainly not) her conscious
> intention.
>
>  In the end, I think her work is seriously flawed. It seems to me not more
> nuanced in its "Imperfect Life" manifestation, but more polarized in its
> own proclivities (it was polarized more than enough in its previous
> manifestations). To anyone who would conclude something about TSE
> based on
> her work, I would have to say "Consider the source." That doesn't dismiss
> it; it puts in (I would say) a better (truer) perspective.
>
>  Ken
>
> On Wed, 7 Mar 2001 10:00:08 -0500 Nancy Gish
> <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
>
> > Dear Ken,
> >
> > Interpretation is not fiction.
> > Calling her work "fiction" is dismissive. What fascinates me is that her
> > first two books were so cautious and admiring, and she only moved to a
> > more nuanced and mixed mode in the third.  But even if one does not
> > agree with her interpretation, it is valid interpretation, not fiction.
> > Nancy
> >
> > Date sent:      	Wed, 7 Mar 2001 10:55:47 -0500
> > Send reply to:  	[log in to unmask]
> > From:           	Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]>
> > To:             	[log in to unmask]
> > Subject:        	RE: Eliot's letters--Gordon's Biography
> >
> > Message-ID: <[log in to unmask]
> > >
> > Priority: NORMAL
> > X-Mailer: Execmail for Win32 Version 5.0.1 Build (55)
> > MIME-Version: 1.0
> > Content-Type: Text/Plain; charset="us-ascii"
> >
> >
> >
> > On Tue, 6 Mar 2001 21:04:49 -0500 Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > I do not understand on what possible basis you can judge Gordon's
> > > meticulously researched material "fiction."  It is consistently based
> > > on cited material, and--more signicantly--Gordon has now done three
> > > biographies that have gone over and over parallel ground with exacting
> > > care.  It is simply not possible to dismiss
> >  Nancy,
> >
> >   But no one is dismissing Gordon; just pointing out that her
> > interpretation of Eliot's life is still that, an interpretation. There
> > are citations, and then there are the selection and presentation of
> > citations.
> >
> >
> >  Arwin says explicitly that she excels in facts. It is what she has
> > done with them that raises eyebrows. She has cut Eliot's life to fit her
> > prejudices. That, too, should not be dismissed.
> >
> >  Ken
> >
> >
>
> Ken Armstrong
> [log in to unmask]
>
>
>