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Just for the record, my own take on Sweeney is that he is
the new man on modern culture. Basic, aggressive, not much
a fan of culture, consumed by the immediate moment, but
with a special wisdom of his own, wrought out of the need to
survive in a surreal world. He matches quite interestingly
the equivalent perception of Wyndham Lewis as presented in the
creature he calls the tyro.
 
Somehow I've never found that renaissance man for
all times and cultures, namely T.S. Eliot, in this character. I
even wonder if Eliot isn't nauseated by him.
 
P.
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">cr mittal
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, February 26, 2007 2:10 PM
Subject: Re: A Girl Like Maria Re: Eliot and Anti-

 
Dear Ken,
 
I don't think there is any misperception, on my part, as regards
Eliot's metaphysical vision -- we both, as well as GSB, stand on a
common ground. For like you, I guess, I too am able to perceive
the downfall from Burbank to Bleistein, or to Sweeney in another
poem, as the poet's own [or the protagonist's own] and is meant
to be a jibe at his own self.
 
The conclusion I reach in my book on Eliot's early poetry is:
 
"In the early poetry, what one envisages is that in the framework of
symbolic aesthetics which commits the poet to the notion of impersonality,
there is a constant personal struggle of the poet with his inner demons and,
through this struggle, the poet works out a personal idiom, and a vision,
with a spiritual orientation which finally culminates in his conversion to
Catholicism."
 
Let me restate my point. It's the poet's/narrator's own fallen state
that is embodied in poems like 'Burbank', 'Gerontion', and the
Sweeney poems. It's unfortunate that he expresses that abominable,
fallen state in terms of jewish (and jewish-sounding) characters.
And therein lies the rub. Even in 'A Cooking Egg', he yields to
this tendency to lay the blame at the threshold of jews:
 
But where is the penny world I bought
  To eat with Pipit behind the screen?
The red-eyed scavengers are creeping
  From Kentish Town and Golder's Green;
 
[Golder's Green was a predominantly jewish suburb.]
 
You'll kindly permit me to elaborate.
The shadow in Eliot's early poetry is inalienably the poet's own and it's
a part of his tryst with his own self. There is no mistaking the depth of the poet's metaphysical engagement with his own spiritual malaise. What 
makes it reprehensible is the poet's viewing of his own demons in terms
of jewish figures.
 
AND a reader's capability to perceive the deeper design of his poetry
does not absolve Eliot of how he reads on the surface. One should
not only be doing justice, one must also appear to be doing so.
Eliot appears otherwise -- in the places under question.  
 
Regards.
 
CR
 

Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
--On Saturday, February 24, 2007 8:08 AM -0800 cr mittal
<[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> Nobody denies a serious poet like Eliot the extent of his
> seriousness about his belief,

No offense, CR, but if you believe this, I don't think you're paying
attention. People on this list deny it. Your "patch of turf" statement
denies it. Woods, Ricks, Julius and others all miss it, and defacto or
positively deny it. All speak through their hats, so to speak. None take
Eliot seriously enough to try to understand what the implications must be
for someone who takes his specific metaphysical vision seriously. All use
the same, forgive me for saying so, lame formula: he was anti-this or
mis-that (there are a rogues' gallery of roots) but he was a great poet.
Eliot the one-man rogues' gallery who produced awesomely powerful poetry.

What's wrong with that picture?

It is not a patch of turf that is at stake, CR, but any understanding that
is anything more than an acquaintance in passing with these poems.

and of course it will have the cultural
> and historical context to it. What is hurtful is showing others in a
> sordid light,

It is odd that you can be at the nub while missing its import: it is
himself he shows in this light. Any reading of Poems 1920 that is worth
having will have to do much better than this free associative first
impression relativistic stuff that is the content of so much spilled ink
about these poems, none of which actually "gets" them.

The Sweeney poems, and including Burbank, are an Eliotic intellectual
autobiography. Who is the main actor in an autobiography?

Ken A


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