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From: Nancy Gish

NG>The question was about what constitutes a literary tradition.  The Scots
have one that goes back to the earliest texts in a version of
Anglo-saxon, and the assumption that it can be dismissed is what I
noted.If "we" comprises those in in "a literary tradition," whose
tradition?  And whose language?  Scots is not a dialect of English but
an equally ancient sister-language.
=================================================
PM>Sounds like Eliot's royalist colours, including his
sentimental attachment to the whjite rose were showing
through. He was indeed an anglophile, perhas excessively so.
Whether such loyalty is a vice or not is debateable.

The point of his speaking from his assumed tradition,
however vehemently to the detriment of another, doesn't
obviate the possibility that that is what the WE was
including.
================================
NG>The story about the question of meaning, by the way, was about the line
   "Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper tree."
================================
PM>If you're referring to my "old white horse" anecdote,
   then I would have to say that that differs from the
   version as I learned it.
================================
NG>Yes, yes, any disagreement with you can be dismissed in advance
   as some conspiratorial parallel to the royal we, while your own
   totalizing statements ("a language will sink anything. . . ,",
   "he had a conflict of interest," "the work is.")  are from some
   thoughtful margin--no patronizing certainty there.
================================
PM>Curious that you would pick those particular points.
   The only texts which seem to have broad cultural bouyancy after
   the demise of their mother tongues that occur to me are what one
   might loosely file into the common enevelope of the scriptural
   or religious, perhaps distantly followed by the mythological.
   I am open to enlightenment. Is say the text of Julian law still
   followed in its original form somewhere?

   As for the conflict of interest.... I don't see what is
   totalising about that at all. His values about his own
   work certainly affected his critical values. How could
   it be otherwise? Were his critical values not biased by
   his experience and stances as a poet?

   As for my own thoughts on legit. response, I thought I
   acknowledged other points of view on that quite bluntly.
   Where's the totalising?

   Pray enlightenment me on these issues, since you picked
   them out.

Peter





=========================================================
>>> [log in to unmask] 02/15/04 12:25 PM >>>
Sara,
 I'm not sure that Eliot's WE can be so easily dismissed as a
presumptuous
royal WE. After all, his concepts about tradition do have a certain
coinage,
if debatable. It is possible to think of the WE as those of a literary
tradition, whatever their tribal lineage or so-called nationality might
be.
A language will sink anything including a constitution composed in that
langauge, before the language itself will disappear. It is really a very
complex corncideration.

Another thought to keep in mind, which few seem to do when they
disparage
Eliot's critical voice, is that he had a conflict of interest. He was an
artist. A woman at a party or something once asked what he meant in
"Journey
of the Magi" by the line about the old white horse galloping
off in a field, and he said something to the effect that he meant an old
white horse galloped off in the field. Eliot was not partcularly one to
allow of interpretation of his own work. It was there. It spoke for
itself.
That's what depersonalisation was/is all about. If the poet can have no
say once the child is gestated, how can anyone else? What is the
interpretation of you, or Nancy or me? It is a silly question. The work
is.
Any interpretation is simply a form of self analysis. The work is a
touchstone or proofrock. One rubs one's self against it to find if one
is
genuine or not. That is art's job. To hold the mirror up to nature.

Perhaps the critic may be a specialist, even an artist at performing the
rub. Aye, there's the rub.

I've often thought that the only genuine response to a work of art is
another work of art. All this prose we generate in response to art is
merely a form of self-indulgence. I got ROYALLY shouted down on this
list once for proposing that. Too many egos at steak, er stake. Too much
of a threat. It's the Percy Wyndham Lewis effect. I still believe it.

Why am I yet again expecting a ROYAL WE on this list to stuff itself
paternalistically into my ear like a Claudian poison? I wish it joy
of the worm.

Peter

-----Original Message-----
From: Sara Trevisan
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: 2/15/04 8:45 AM
Subject: Re: Qua work of art....

Thanks, Richard.
Indeed, I was able to understand Eliot's statements only through the
reading
of a later book by Wilson Knight, where 'criticism' and 'interpretation'
are
explained and clearly distinguished.
Criticism provides a judgement on merits, whereas interpretation
attempts to
explain the work of art in the light of its own nature, employing
external
reference, avoiding any discussions on merits.
As you can see, if Eliot's critic can only express remarks and give the
historical setting, he/she can both criticise and interpret. I seem to
understand Eliot simply wanted to keep some distance between his own
sense
for 'interpretation' and the Romantic sense, which Goethe and Coleridge
had
exploited by turning Hamlet into themselves (and vice versa). Also, I
found
some helpful comments in Warren's book 'TS Eliot on Shakespeare', where
the
author states Eliot
simply meant to deal with something else, though the subject of the
essay is
Hamlet.
Yet, that WE really destroyed all my theories, for I instantly wondered
who
Eliot was supposed to be within the whole scheme of criticism. Nancy's
reply
was really clear.
I'm going to read Carta Da Vista... Although, in Italian, A Visiting
Card
would be translated as Biglietto Da Visita. 'Biglietto' is the same as
the
English 'card, ticket', whereas 'visita' is the same as the English
'visit'
(as in Prufrock). 'Vista' means 'sight'. Pound's rendering sounds rather
Spanish to my Italian ear... Did Pound speak Spanish?
Thanks again!
Sara



----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Seddon" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, February 15, 2004 5:22 PM
Subject: Re: Qua work of art....


> Sara
>
> I think "we and "reader" are both aspects of *everyman* and that the
person
> assuming that the reader does not know certain historical facts is the
> critic.
>
> I also have trouble with the significance of what he is writing.
>
> Eliot would appear to be denying the critic any role beyond  stating
> evaluative remarks and perhaps providing a historical  setting.  He is
> denying that it is a critic's role to establish an authoritative
reading
or
> interpretation.  He is not denying the reader such an interpretation.
Every
> reader when he/she reads a work interprets that work within the
reader's
own
> context.  The critic is free to provide his/her own reading but it
should
be
> understood that this is but one reader's interpretation.
>
> A literary theorist is free to construct general theories of how
literature
> should be read but should not, in the role of "critic", provide
specific
> interpretation of a specific work.  A reader can utilize a theorist's
> general statements about literature to better understand a specific
work
and
> can recite that understanding to others but is not performing a
"critic's"
> role when he/she does so.  That reader is only providing *that*
reader's
> understanding.
>
> The idea approaches Pound's concept of "Imagism".  Because the
"meaning"
of
> an Imagist/Vorticist's work is the result of the triggering of a
specific
> reader's "complex" by an artist's supplied Image, every realization of
art
> is specific, within cultural limits,  to a reader.  There is nothing
to
> generally "interpret" within a work of art.  All that can be done is
to
fill
> in a reader's blanks of specific understanding and issue a value of
the
> work's worth.  Any reader is still free to write about the results of
the
> work of art as it was processed by that reader's "complex" and provide
> his/her understanding but it is not a critic's role to do so.
>
> In "Carta Da Vista" (A Visiting Card), on page 318 of "Selected Prose:
> 1909-1965",  Pound has a little to say about critics, writers and
readers
> which may be of interest to you.  Since you can enjoy the original it
may
be
> of more value than John Drummond's translation of the Italian which is
in
> "Selected Prose" :>)
>
> Rick Seddon
> McIntosh, NM