Okay. We'll let you off the hook this time.
I've indicated before that your style invites challenge,
so be careful where you point your finger.


-----Original Message-----
From: Nancy Gish [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2003 7:15 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Poets on poetry

Since you clearly don't know where the beef is, this is a silly
exercise.  It is absurd for me to note that having taught Women's
Studies for 20 years and directed the program for 10 and taught
both Woolf and Wollstonecraft all that time, I find it tiresome to be
told what is clearly based on lack of knowledge, so I'm opting out of
this. It is not worth pursuing.  If you actually care, read feminist
history and theory.

I can already anticipate the kind of reaction you will have to this, so
do have a field day.

I find myself doing what I hate, rising to the bait in a constant
ridiculous trolling exercise.

Date sent:              Thu, 4 Dec 2003 22:37:31 -0800
Send reply to:          "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum."
<[log in to unmask]>
From:                   Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:                Re: Poets on poetry
To:                     [log in to unmask]

I think you're simply demonstrating my point for me, very
eloquently, Nancy. MW is not preaching to the closed minded.
She is trying to expand the scope of people's consciousness
on the subject. Her anger is real and justified. She is talking
about real abuse, and on a general plane, with specific
examples. She is not letting Rousseau get her knickers into
a twist to the degree that she can't focus on anything else.
She rises above petty personal dislike for the sake of a higher

As for VW, she like many others found it hard to rise above
her aesthetic quibbles with Eliot. Fine. We aren't talking about
aesthetics here, but sexual politics. Did she show a gripe about
Eliot's treatment of Viv or his attitude to women in general?
If she had such a gripe, did it stop her from publishing his

So where have these women let themselves get sidetracked from
their issues by their need to continually flog their favourite
whipping boy?

And while were at Eliot's own sexual politics, we might observe
that in his plays the women inevitably come off better than the
central men, who are usually flogging themselves on issues
that have to do with the mistreatment or at least inacceptable
treatment of women. One could make a pretty solid case that
the image of woman is pretty enhanced in his dramas.

So where's the beef? In the baloney?

-----Original Message-----
From: Nancy Gish [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2003 10:17 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Poets on poetry

If you think they did not "pick on dead poets" you need to read
them.  It does not look as if you know what they did write.  An entire
chapter of VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN is entitled "Animadversions
on Some of the Writers Who Have Rendered Women Objects of Pity, Bordering
on Contempt."  It's pretty blistering; it's true they weren't all dead.

On Rousseau:  "Rousseau's observations, it is proper to remark,
were made in a country where the art of pleasing was refined only to
extract the grosseness of vice.  He did not go back to nature, or his
ruling appetite disturbed the operations of reason, else he would not have
drawn these crude inferences. . . .   The pernicious tendency of these
books, in which the writers insidiously degrade the sex whilst they are
prostrate before their personal charms, cannot be too often or too
severely exposed."

She doesn't stick to being anti-French:  "Taking a view of the
different works which have been written on education, Lord
Chesterfield's Letters must not be silently passed over.  Not that I
mean to analyze his unmanly, immoral system, or even to cull any
of the useful, shrewd remarks which occur in his epistles. . . ."

She's pretty prone to general condemnation also:  "For I will venture to
assert, that all the causes of female weakness, as well as depravity,
which I have already enlarged on, branch out of one grand cause--want of
chastity in men."

Ah!  that wonderful rising above.

But Woolf, so properly respectful.  On Eliot:

"Again, with the obscurity of Mr. Eliot.  I think that Mr. Eliot has
written some of the loveliest single lines in modern poetry.  But how
intolerant he is of the old usages and politenesses of society-- respect
for the weak, consideration for the dull!  As I sun myself upon th intense
and ravishing beauty of one of his lines, and reflect that I must make a
dizzy and dangerous leap to the next, and so on from line to line, like an
acrobat flying precariously from bar to bar, I cry out, I confess, for the
old decorums. . . .  For these reasons, then, we must reconcile ourselves
to a season of failures and fragments.  We must reflect that where so much
strength is spent on finding a way of telling the truth, the truth itself
is bound to reach us in rather an exhausted and chaotic condition.
Ulysses, Queen Victoria, Mr. Prufrock--to give Mrs. Brown some of the
names she has made famous lately--is a little pale and dishevelled  by the
time her rescuers reach her."

And of course there is that very angry professor and the perpetual
"I" in male books and the fate of Shakespeare's sister--all testament to
how far above anger or petty critique she was.

But that claim, as it happens, is simply untrue.  They were both
committed feminists at times when women were excluded from
what meant most to them--education, the Cambridge library.  The
were angry and quite clear about it.

Date sent:              Thu, 4 Dec 2003 19:15:24 -0800
Send reply to:          "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum."
<[log in to unmask]>
From:                   Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:                Re: Poets on poetry
To:                     [log in to unmask]

What they did was to open minds that weren't open, and
to change the consciousness of the open minded, in order
to change the momentum in their favour. They merely side-
stepped or went around the minds that wouldn't open. They
knew where to fight their battles in order to have an
effect. They didn't pick on dead poets, whose status, however
affected, wouldn't affect their own.


-----Original Message-----
From: Nancy Gish - Women's Studies
[mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2003 5:41 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Poets on poetry

What they DID was write out their battles with the small minded.
They did not consider that petty.  As the small minded never get it
until that is done over and over, it continues to be written.

On 4 Dec 2003, at 18:05, Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> It's not what they said, Nancy. That's the whole point.
> It's what they did. Instead of letting themselves be blocked
> by the male establishment, they challenged it, and rose above
> its pettiness, to do great things for their sex. They didn't
> waste their time continually batting at the small-minded for
> recreation. They moved on. Their saying was to a meaningful
> purpose, not for mere personal relief.
> P.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Nancy Gish - Women's Studies [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2003 4:38 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Poets on poetry
> I'm sorry, but this is just factually untrue.
> Mary Wollstonecraft and Virginia Woolf wrote brilliant critiques of what
> you seem to think they "rose above."  Woolf was astounded, offended, and
> fiercely resistant to the beadle, and Wollstonecraft wrote the first
> major feminist philosophical argument for equality of women because of
> her resistance.
> Whatever are you supposing they said?
> Nancy
> On 4 Dec 2003, at 16:08, Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > I'm thinking of how Mary Wolstonecraft was able to rise above
> > all the exasperations of her age, and of how Virginia Woolf
> > was able to step aside some beadle that got in her way, without
> > bothering to vent upon him.
> >
> > Eliot is a convenient whipping horse for people who haven't found
> > their ways around such obstacles. It is his punishment for becoming a
> > Christian and so betraying the age that thought it could rise above
> > superstition, and thought TWL was the prime statment of that belief.
> > As he said once, somewhere, "In an age when everyone is trying to
> > escape, a person going in the opposite direction will seem to run
> > away." or words to that effect.
> >
> > Given what the publication world has become, eg Oprah &c.
> > the production of a book is no longer an indicator of anything.
> >
> > Peter
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Nancy Gish - Women's Studies [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> > Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2003 10:36 AM
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: Re: Poets on poetry
> >
> >
> > What I think is that you are astonishingly rude and astonishingly
> > concerned about what I say.  It is not mutual. Nancy
> >
> > On 4 Dec 2003, at 13:10, Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> > > At 06:24 PM 12/3/2003 -0500, Nancy Gish wrote:
> > >
> > > >Oh don't be silly.
> > >
> > >     Hope springs eternal.
> > >
> > > >  I just finished my third book on Eliot (this one co-
> > > >edited).  No one spends a life doing that out of animus.
> > > >  If you can't make a point, why blether?
> > >
> > >
> > >    Making a point to you, Nancy, is no easy proposition. If you have
> > > animus for Eliot, no one does. The number of books under your belt
> > not
> > > attest to your attitude toward your subject. Critics have no
> > > animosity toward their subjects or they wouldn't bother? Is there
> > > anyone so
> as
> > > to accept this for writ?
> > >
> > >
> > > >Katherine Anne Porter, like everyone before the necessary research
> > > >on language, was taught that "man" and "he" were grammatically
> > > >correct terms for the third person.  Everyone else was taught the
> > > >same.  It happens to be nonsense.
> > >
> > >    That it is nonsense is beside the point. The point is, if I were
> > >    to
> > > continually harp on KAP for what "Everyone else was taught" and
> > > used, it would rightly appear, wouldn't it, that I had it in for
> > > KAP.
> Why
> > > constantly be correcting her for what everyone did? Why step on
> > > Eliot
> > every
> > > chance you get for what everyone else did? It has nothing to do with
> your
> > > handy summary of how "he" came to be used for third person everyone.
> That
> > > is a red herring by which you evaded my question. Why? Because when
> > someone
> > > disagrees with you, it must be because they are wrong?
> > >
> > > . If you know
> > > >nothing about it (as your comment suggests), why carp?
> > >
> > > >  it is pointless to respond courteously to trolling and
> > > >sniping.
> > >
> > >    However, it is your practice to carp and snipe at Eliot and then
> > >    to
> > take
> > > offense when anyone points it out. I can only disagree with you, you
> > > imply,  if I "know nothing about it."  If you are unable to admit or
> > > any of this, then the only point in responding is to open better
> > > possibilities for others. Did you think at all about the suggestion
> > > regarding artistic expression?
> > >
> > > Ken A.