Print

Print


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.]
   

       
---------------------------------
Sick sense of humor? Visit Yahoo! TV's Comedy with an Edge to see what's on, when.