Carrol Cox wrote:

> This post is mostly free association.

I'll reply to a few of your questions.  I've changed the order a bit

> What's the "social position" of Dear Mrs. Equitone?

I would say her physical position was supine and she was waiting for
"Madame" Sosostris.  That is because I see Russell in Sosostris and
Mrs. E. in Mrs. Equitone. (One must be careful!)

> I would presume Eliot accepts (implicitly or explicitly) the concept
> of a "middle class" (I don't, but that's not immediately relevant),
> and if he does, how does he relate himself to that class?

Yes, Eliot accepts the cncept of a middle class.  See below.

> Is TWL a middle class poem?

Hard for me to tell.  It is about Eliot's problems.  Was he middle
class?  He was high middle class as far as income but his education
was far better than would be common to the middle class of the time.

> Are classes for Eliot boxes -- categorys into which one lumps people
> according to various criteria -- or are defined by their mutual
> relations?

It seems to be in the relationship according to his Marie Lloyd essay:

    And her death is itself a significant moment in English history. I
    have called her the expressive figure of the lower classes. There has
    been no such expressive figure for any other class. The middle classes
    have no such idol: the middle classes are morally corrupt. That is to
    say, it is themselves and their own life which find no expression in
    such a person as Marie Lloyd: nor have they any independent virtues as
    a class which might give them as a conscious class any dignity. The
    middle classes, in England as elsewhere, under democracy are morally
    dependent upon the aristocracy, and the aristocracy are morally in
    fear of the middle class which is gradually absorbing and destroying
    them. The lower classes still exist; but perhaps they will not exist
    for long.

> Does Eliot consider the small house agent's clerk working class?

I would say that he did.

> Is the house agent's clerk a clerk only because the house agent is a
> house agent, and is the house agent (I presume this is U.S. realtor) a
> house agent in essence or only because . . . ?

I believe the house means an accounting house or shipping house or
something like that.  In other words a house was an office for a
small(???) firm. Can someone set us straight?

> If I recall correctly, Thatcher's popularity was plunging just before
> her aggression against Argentina, and that war pulled her back up. If
> that is the case, gender certainly didn't have much to do with it.

This is political and I usually steer away from this but since I'm
responding already I'll give you my opinion.

If I recall correctly, Argentina's armed forces moved against a
British civilian population (maybe the generals considered the land
theirs but the casualities would have been British but life was cheap,
they threw their own civilians from helicopters.)  The U.K. moved
against only the forces occupying or protecting the islands.  Maybe
Argentina deserves to own the penguins there but even so I would say
they were the aggressors.

An irony that I love is that the Argentine government stirred up the
patriotism of the people with TV ads where the background music was
the theme from then then new movie "Chariots of Fire" about the
successes of the British Olympic runners.

    Rick Parker