I appreciate the sentiment.

All the same, I like to "know my sources".  I have never been one to
fully subscribe to or fully reject the post-modernist arguments about
author's intent, that is, its essential irrelevance.  Maybe I am reading
into your note (ha!) but I hear a little of this spirit in your reply.

Whether or not Eliot was gay does not impact my opinion of him as a
great poet.  It could, however, help to inform my understanding of his
work and his general outlook on life.  What is poetry, if not something
for aiding us in forming our own sort of outlook -- something to help us
make sense of an essentially senseless environment?  I may be mistaken,
but it was my understanding that this was the great pursuit of the
so-called 'Modernists', amongst which Eliot is generally considered a
great standard bearer... I think, for example, there are a lot of folks
out there that would think it silly for one to ignore the feminist/gay
slant to Woolf's writing, even if you were to argue that she never wrote
such themes into her work 'with intent'.

Group: please advise!

-----Original Message-----
From: Vishvesh Obla [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2003 7:33 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: An amateur Eliot enthusiast's wild musing

"I read in a New Yorker article (by Louis Menand) last
fall that a group of scholars -- on somewhat thin
evidence -- believe that Eliot was gay and had a lover
while in Paris: Jean Verdenal..."


'Eliot was gay; shakespheare was gay; Henry James was
impotent; Lawrence suffered from Oedipus complex' :
when I read academic discussions of great writers, I
feel totally at a loss when someone drags in a
personal issue as the above even when they could be
real.  I remember Eliot himself quoting somewhere on
some earlier critics of Shakepheare that they were
much closer to his dramatic art than much of the later
critics since they could focus at the essential spirit
of his works without getting entangled in the
'academism' which seems to be the malady of the modern

I would appreciate if anyone here attempts to look at
a poem for what it is and not for the innumerable
details which, I feel, make a poem anything but a


"Trust the tale, not the artist..."

--- "David B. Martin 00"
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> RE:  Prufrock...
> Why is the fog/smoke yellow? Mustard gas? I read in
> a New Yorker article (by Louis Menand) last fall
> that a group of scholars -- on somewhat thin
> evidence -- believe that Eliot was gay and had a
> lover while in Paris: Jean Verdenal. The Prufrock
> collection was apparently dedicated to Verdenal in
> 1917, after his death at Gallipoli. According to
> these scholars, Eliot thought he had died of
> drowning. Other scholars have read Verdenal into the
> Phoeban sailor of _The Waste Land_.   But it seems
> to me that the publish date, 1922, of The Waste Land
> would have been far too late to nurse a wounded
> heart in public, published form -- am I naive in
> thinkin this?  I have to wonder if all the water
> imagery, and the yellow smoke, and the eternal
> Footman, etc were not all musings and memorials to
> the death of his friend and/or lover Jean.
> Prufrock's publish date of 1917 would seem to
> support my private little theory, but this
> (
> website's tim!
>  eline claims a completion date in 1912.  Did he
> spend the five year balance completing the remaining
> poems, refining the eponymous poem, or just involved
> with other pursuits?  Besides, do we have hard
> evidence that he did not completely rewrite the poem
> in 1917 anyways?  Any Eliot scholars out there care
> to respond?
> D

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