For not just any superior bank clerk in bowler-hat, black jacket and striped trousers, see:
For the same personage in a fedora, see:
The Stetson is a quintessientially American hat. For a history of this Texas company, see:
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
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 TWLon 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'dlike to focus on the Stetson passage.My apprehensions (understanding) in this regard are based onthe following clues :1. If Stetson has done nothingreprehensible in planting a corpsein 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, andreminded 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, whosefavourite hat was a sombrero-stetson. Eliot said that he just meant anysuperior bank clerk inbowler-hat, black jacket and striped trousers, andthat he was not referring to anyone in particular. Stetson is possibly thepersona's alter ego -- an image of the split self. This is suggested bythe 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 aboutthe nature of "the savage" and even its presence within himself.Remarkably, in 'Eeldrop and Appleplex', Eeldrop (said to bea representation of Eliot) muses endlessly on the moral fate of a manwho has murdered his mistress. One would not, therefore, be surprisedif 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-warscenario -- earlier or contemporary. Incidentally, Stetson wasa slouch hat worn by soldiers of the Australian and New Zealandforces. Well, there's Albert, demobbed, returning home "to have agood 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 hotgammon,And they asked me in to dinner, to get the beauty of ithot ---And 'A Game of Chess' concludes on a poignant note with anallusion to mad Ophelia.And, previous to the tragedy of Lil is the tragic fate of another lady:Under the firelight, under the brush, her hairSpread out in fiery pointsGlowed intowords, then would be savagely still.And, in the backdrop, we hear Philomela's timeless cry -- heronomatopoeic 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 notSpeak, and my eyes failed, I was neitherLiving 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 asone contemplates the fate of "the corpse"in question.And, as I said, it's just _a_ reading of sorts. And I took the libertyto share it in the hope that someone might -- just might -- find itplausible enough to pursue the lead.As for literary hermeneutics, one had as well share one'shalf-formed thoughts as not -- for not doing so would only foreclosethe possibility of exploration.AND, thanks a lot, Peter Montgomery and Diana Manister, andRickard Parker, for your comments.Regards,CR[P.S. I forgot to say, all emphasis in thequotations mine.]
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