Dear Raphael,

I appreciate your comments on Gordon, who is a serious and scrupulous 
biographer and who, ironically, seemed to me in the early two books to be 
too defensive in the face of the facts she gave.

On Seymour-Jones, I want to make clear that I did not say she did her 
homework properly but only that she did it.  I said that on the basis of 
studying her citations and bibliography first.  I am only in Chapter 3, and it 
is apparent that she does have a serious gap between the material she has 
dug up and a tendency to overread it or simplify poetic personae as simply 
Tom.  But one can read a biography with such flaws and learn a great deal. 
I am fascinated with her sheer mass of previously unstudied material, which 
I can differentiate from her sometimes simplistic interpretations.  I think you 
would find it an important book even if it is deeply flawed, as it may well 
turn out to be on the basis of the little I have read.

I want to add that I appreciate Rick Seddon's posting Jewel's very balanced 
review because Jewel has long been committed to treating Eliot with 
respect as a person, and she and I have often disagreed on reaction while 
agreeing on meanings and sources, so her review is very important in this 
discussion.   I think her article in the book Cassandra and I are editing will 
be an equally important contribution to acknowledging Eliot's many sides.

Date sent:      	Sun, 27 Jan 2002 20:50:52 +0100
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From:           	"INGELBIEN RAPHAEL" <[log in to unmask]>
To:             	<[log in to unmask]>
Subject:        	Re: Eliot biographies--why not, then, disprove?

From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>

> I think it is essential to deal with the fact that Gordon's tone changed
> she learned more.  No one has yet suggested any reason why she would
> have any animus or develop any prejudice.  Scholarship, to be honest,
> must go where evidence leads, and it seems to have led her to material
> that changed her response.  There is no reason at all to assume she
> started with any prejudice, as your emphasis on the previous books
> shows.

It's true that 'An Imperfect Life' is more censorious than 'Eliot's Early
Years' and 'Eliot's Second Life'. In fact, there used to be a time when
Gordon could even sound defensive about Eliot's reputation (if not in
print, at least in her teaching). I think she felt under pressure after
Julius and others had launched systematic attacks on Eliot's politics, and
took them into account in 'An Imperfect Life' (rightly or wrongly is a
whole debate in itself). What I'm trying to say here is this: any
characterization of Gordon's work as a prime example of politically
correct debunking is simply wide off the mark. She simply isn't that kind
of writer.

As for Seymour-Jones: I don't intend to read the book, partly because I
have other priorities, partly because some reviewers pointed out flaws
that I regard as too serious. If she can mistake an allusion to Pater's
conclusion to the Renaissance for a reference to Vivien, she hasn't in my
view done her homework properly.


RaphaŽl Ingelbien
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