There are dozens of variants and meanings for "fag" and for "faggot," and
the use of the term for male homosexuals is not necessarily the same as
that term for cigarettes. I think without some extensive etymological work,
this line of discussion is confusingly arbitrary. For example, according to
The American Heritage Dictionary, "fag" as a cigarette is short for "fag
end," or the frayed end of a length of cloth. But in the OED the first
meaning of "faggot" is a bundle of twigs, and there are many more
meanings and variants. Is there any evidence that the words for cigarette
and homosexual actually have any etymological link at all?
I think we can be sure Eliot would have taken account of such meanings.
In any case, there is no reason to see cigars as signifiers OR
nonsignifiers of sexuality that I have seen.
I think any such argument needs some evidence also.
Date sent: 0000,0000,8000Wed, 25 Sep 2002 17:15:33 +0000
Send reply to: 0000,0000,8000"T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <<[log in to unmask]>
From: 0000,0000,8000Nadia Woodhouse <<[log in to unmask]>
Subject: 0000,0000,8000Re: pipes in Prufrock (was Michaelangelo)
To: 0000,0000,8000[log in to unmask]
Times New RomanApparently in certain parts of Dublin, men who smoke cigarettes are
STILL referred to as "faggots".
----Original Message Follows----
From: Kate Troy
Reply-To: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum."
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] writes:
> 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
> > the image being implied.
> It certainly _is_ a very disturbing passage, even by the standard! s of
> most disturbing poem. And I think there may a homoerotic undertone to
> poem. But there is one detail in the passage that goes against a
> reading: the pipes. Freudian critics would probably have a field day on
> image (and we're not even mentioning a possible echo of the
> word 'pipe'). I may be plain wrong here, but as far as I know, pipe-
> 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
> Does anyone know more about gay fashions in the early 20th century?
The English word for cigarettes "fags" actually had a homosexual
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.
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
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
dreaming of another life that they can never possibly make happen. An
life, considering the times.
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