"The Count and Countess Larisch had a difficult marriage and Marie
    enjoyed her time away from the Count. In her book My Past. (1913) she
    wrote a few paragraphs about spending time away from the Count at her
    Bavarian mountain home "

Richard, this brings to mind the trip Vivienne Eliot took to a seaside villa in Torquay with Bertrand Russell in 1916, while her new husband stayed in London. Eliot thanked Russell profusely in a letter:  "I am sure you have done everything possible, and handled her in the very best way; better than I...I believe we shall owe her life to you, even." Whether Vivienne or Eliot enjoyed the respite more is unclear!

Eliot submerged biographical details in his poems, possibly unconsciously, it seems. He hid his own experience in his characters, as writers will do. Ferretting them out on the basis of evidence illuminates his creative process. Some speculation is valid in interpretation, however, as definitive evidence in all cases cannot be found. As Russell himself advised, one sometimes must proceed "on the basis of probablility."

Eliot's early prohibitions against connecting a writer's biography with his work took the form of aesthetic theory that directed attention away from his personal life. He invented terms -- "objective correlative" and "dissociation of sensibility" among them -- that he backed away from later. In To Criticize the Critic he wrote: 'I am not sure, at this distance in time, how valid are the two phrases...."


From:  "Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Subject:  Re: Biography
Date:  Thu, 31 Aug 2006 21:10:27 -0400
Diana, I'm not sure if you knew it but you pointed to my TWL website
with your link to the webpage on Marie Larisch.  I'm including a bit
more on her below taken from some other pages.  While I think Eliot
may have felt some sympathy with the Countess getting away from her
spouse (Vivien had her cottage) it is not something that anyone would
expect to know or feel at the time of the poems publication.

As for Brian's question -- Countess Larisch was quite infamous but
there was more than 30 years between the Mayerling scandal and TWL's
publication and a new Archduke was in people's minds.  I rather
suspect that if you changed Archduke to War Minister or the like and
changed Marie to Christine you would get an approximation of what
Eliot was after in using his couple.

At my annotated TWL website the line "In the mountains, there you feel
free." has a link to the following commentary:

     Feeling free

     The Count and Countess Larisch had a difficult marriage and Marie
     enjoyed her time away from the Count. In her book My Past. (1913) she
     wrote a few paragraphs about spending time away from the Count at her
     Bavarian mountain home Villa Valerie (in the town of Rottach-Egern, 54
     km south of Munich).

     Perhaps Marie didn't mention her feelings about being free from her
     husband in her conversation with Eliot but Eliot MIGHT have picked up
     this tidbit from My Past at a different time.

That webpage links to the following:

     My Past
     Chapter IX, The Infatuation of Mary Vetsera
     Marie Larisch (1858-1940)
     The first three paragraphs of the chapter.

     SINCE that October day when, solely to please the Empress, I became
     the wife of Count George Larisch, my life was more or less
     uneventful. My husband's sudden self-assertion had shattered
     Elizabeth's plans, and, although I saw a great deal of her when I,
     happened to be in Vienna, the confidential intercourse between us was
     practically over, and I sometimes bitterly reflected that my aunt did
     not seem to trouble about me or my affairs half so much as when I was
     more useful to her.

     The Count and I first lived in a remote part of Silesia, and we
     afterwards removed to another estate near where my husband's people
     resided. George was not on the best of terms with his relations, and
     he therefore decided to purchase a property in Bohemia, not far from
     Pardubitz, where he built a country house. I did not care greatly for
     our new home, which bored me excessively when the hunting and shooting
     were over, but luckily I owned a charming little place in the Bavarian
     mountains where I spent some very happy times with my children.

     Count Larisch did not give us much of his company in Bavaria, as he
     had a deep-rooted dislike to my country, and to my family; so his
     visits to the Villa Valerie only lasted a few weeks. But I was not
     actually unhappy; I loved my children; I had many things to occupy my
     time, and perhaps a little of the stolid Bavarian character made me
     philosophical. I had, like most women, some one for whom I cared, but
     this was my own secret, and the object of my affection knew nothing
     about it. I drifted peacefully through the days which were so much
     alike; I never expected any change, for my emotions had become dulled,
     and I had schooled myself to accept my life such as it was.

>From a scale of "so what" to "essential" I hope the above rates at
least an "interesting".

     Rick Parker