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
"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.