the irony of the "ivory men"
The "ivory men", then, could carry the connotation of "luxuriant men"
and, in the context of the "game of chess" (ref. Middleton's Women
Beware Women ), they could play foul.
Ah, in so short of a space of time, we have traveled far --
from Rickard Parker's plausible story of the chess set being
a wedding gift that could have come with an innocent and cordial
note, "The ivory men make company between us", to the portentous
aspect the "ivory men" wear on a live floor of chess.
And, all too soon, the "ivory men" become part of the poet's
"grouse against life", maybe.
O, let's not look too long at them.
Portentous in their demeanor, now-good-now-bad,
they do not bode well. It could be a reason for
Vivien's request to remove them.
Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary,
to sweeten my imagination.
//a better arrow towards its (ivory's) probable use
is "luxury"// (expensive ivory as opposed to cheap wood).
Carrol, "slaughter of innocents" may be too strong, but Eliot would not have used "ivory" without an awareness that //the ivory trade involved
killing//. To me the fact that the pieces are ivory and not wood or marble or any other material he might have chosen adds // a bloody life-and-death tonality to the "game" played by Tom and Viv.// Diana
Yes, expensive. Especially for the elephants. Eliot would have taken this resonance of the word into account. Ivory men are men who trade in ivory as well as chess pieces made from ivory. // A game of chess then includes the symbolic war taking place on the board and the
slaughter of innocents.// Diana
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