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CR:

For not just any superior bank clerk in bowler-hat, black jacket and striped trousers, see:

http://www.york.ac.uk/depts/engl/gsp/taughtma/images/eliot.gif

For the same personage in a fedora, see:

http://images-eu.amazon.com/images/P/0571197469.02.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

The Stetson is a quintessientially American hat. For a history of this Texas company, see:

 http://www.stetsonhat.com/raw/history.asp

Stagger Lee wore a Stetson, and killed a man on its account. Also known as Stagolee, Stackerlee, and other names, ge was an American murderer whose crime was immortalized in a blues folk song, which has been recorded in hundreds of different versions.

Billy DeLyon told Stagolee, "Please don't take my life
I got two little babes and a darling, loving wife"
That bad man, oh cruel Stagolee

"What'd I care about your two little babes and darling, loving wife?
You done stole my Stetson hat, I'm bound to take your life."
That bad man, oh cruel Stagolee

Diana

CR cited:

Of Stetson

 
"It has been suggested that Eliot was here referring to Ezra Pound, whose
favourite hat was a sombrero-stetson. Eliot said that he just meant any
superior bank clerk in bowler-hat, black jacket and striped trousers, and
that he was not referring to anyone in particular. Stetson is possibly the
persona's alter ego -- an image of the split self. This is suggested by
the allusions to Baudelaire."
 
                                        Jain, Manju, T.S. Eliot's Selected Poems
                                   (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998, p. 162)
 


From:  cr mittal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Subject:  The Stetson Passage in TWL
Date:  Wed, 6 Jun 2007 11:19:58 -0700

Dear Carrol and Nancy,
  
 
  
Thanks for opening up for me the possibility of discussing TWL
  
on so many fronts -- the thematic unity of the work, for instance,
  
as I perceive it, or the leitmotif of lust at the heart of the wasteland.
  
You'll presently hear me on these topics.  But at the moment I'd
  
like to focus on the Stetson passage.
  
 
  
My apprehensions (understanding) in this regard are based on
  
the following clues :
  
 
  
1. If Stetson has done nothing
reprehensible in planting a corpse
  
in the garden, where was the need to reprimand the reader
  
[ 'You ! hypocrite lecteur ! ...] for occupying a high moral ground? --
  
they (the readers) are accused of hypocrisy in this regard, and 
  
reminded that they're no better than Stetson : "mon somblable,
  
mon frere".
  
 
  
2.  Of Stetson
  
 
  
"It has been suggested that Eliot was here referring to Ezra Pound, whose
  
favourite hat was a sombrero-stetson. Eliot said that he just meant any
  
superior bank clerk in
bowler-hat, black jacket and striped trousers, and
  
that he was not referring to anyone in particular. Stetson is possibly the
  
persona's alter ego -- an image of the split self. This is suggested by
  
the allusions to Baudelaire."
  
 
  
                                        Jain, Manju, T.S. Eliot's Selected Poems
  
                                   (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998, p.
162)
  
 
  
 
  
3. Of "the savage" in Eliot :
  
 
  
According to Peter Ackroyd, Eliot did sometimes speculate about
  
the nature of "the savage" and even its presence within himself.
  
Remarkably, in 'Eeldrop and Appleplex', Eeldrop (said to be
  
a representation of Eliot) muses endlessly on the moral fate of a man
  
who has murdered his mistress. One would not, therefore, be surprised
  
if the poet here, in the persona of the speaker, addresses Stetson
  
-- a dramatic visualization of himself, of his own alter ego.
  
 
  
4. The "local" context of the passage is grounded in a post-war
  
scenario -- earlier or contemporary. Incidentally, Stetson was
  
a slouch hat worn by soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand
  
forces. Well, there's Albert, demobbed, returning home "to have a
  
good time" -- and if Lil doesn't give it him, others will -- and Lil :
  
 
  
It's them pills I took, to bring it off, she said.
  
(She's had five already, and nearly died of young George.)
  
 
Well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot
  
     gammon,
  
And they asked me in to dinner, to get the beauty of it
  
     hot ---
  
 
  
And 'A Game of Chess' concludes on a poignant note with an
  
allusion to mad Ophelia.
  
 
  
And, previous to the tragedy of Lil is the tragic fate of another lady:
  
 
  
Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair
  
Spread out in fiery points
  
Glowed into
words, then would be savagely still.
  
 
  
And, in the backdrop, we hear Philomela's timeless cry -- her 
  
onomatopoeic story of Teseus's criminal violence.
  
 
  
And more,  "That corpse you planted last year in your garden"
  
has an antecedent in the hyacinth garden :
  
 
  
---Yet when we came back, late, from the hyacinth garden,
  
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
  
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
  
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
  
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
  
 
  
One breathes in a haunting and pervasive air of tragedy even as
  
one contemplates the fate of "the corpse"
in question.
  
 
  
And, as I said, it's just  _a_ reading of sorts.  And I took the liberty
  
to share it in the hope that someone might -- just might -- find it
  
plausible enough to pursue the lead.
  
 
  
As for literary hermeneutics, one had as well share one's
  
half-formed thoughts as not -- for not doing so would only foreclose
  
the possibility of exploration. 
  
 
  
AND, thanks a lot, Peter Montgomery and Diana Manister,  and
  
Rickard Parker, for your comments.
  
 
  
Regards,
  
 
  
CR
  
 
  
[P.S.  I forgot to say, all emphasis in the
quotations mine.]
  
 

      
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