Apparently in certain parts of Dublin, men who smoke cigarettes are STILL referred to as "faggots".
----Original Message Follows----
From: Kate Troy <[log in to unmask]
Reply-To: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: pipes in Prufrock (was Michaelangelo)
Date: Tue, 24 Sep 2002 20:58:16 EDT
In a message dated 9/24/02 11:36:49 AM Pacific Daylight Time, [log in to unmask]
> Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
> > And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
> > Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?...
> > This does not prove the men are homosexuals, but given that they are
> > populating the "narrow streets at dusk" (and given the context of the
> > poem which we have not yet discussed in these short posts), I think that
> > the image being implied.
> It certainly _is_ a very disturbing passage, even by the standards of that
> most disturbing poem. And I think there may a homoerotic undertone to the
> poem. But there is one detail in the passage that goes against a homoerotic
> reading: the pipes. Freudian critics would probably have a field day on
> image (and we're not even mentioning a possible echo of the ambiguous
> word 'pipe'). I may be plain wrong here, but as far as I know, pipe-smoking
> was never part of the gay code. If those lonely men in shirt sleeves had
> been smoking cigarettes, it would be easier to find the passage homoerotic.
> Does anyone know more about gay fashions in the early 20th century?
The English word for cigarettes "fags" actually had a homosexual connotation
to it, in that allegedly real men smoked pipes and homosexuals smoked
cigarettes. That's a little difficult for me to understand since I know that
most heterosexual men who smoke prefer cigarettes over cigars by far. In
fact, if I saw a man smoking a pipe, I would immediately suspect that he
wasn't smoking tobacco. Perhaps this fag/cigarette double meaning was due to
the fact that in the 1920's, women had started smoked cigarettes out in
public. In any event, as to the passage in issue, I might interpret it as
lonely married men who are secretly gay, lonely, leaning out the windows,
dreaming of another life that they can never possibly make happen. An unreal
life, considering the times.