I enjoyed that. Thanks.
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: cr mittal 
  To: [log in to unmask] 
  Sent: Saturday, June 09, 2007 8:25 PM
  Subject: Re: The Stetson Passage in TWL

  TWL : masking personal history with impersonal facade

  The impersonal facade of "the ships at Mylae" and "demobbed" Albert led
  to the critical opinion of TWL as an expression of post-war disillusionment. 
  Later in life, Eliot repudiated it saying the poem was no more than a piece 
  of rhythmic grumbling, an expression of personal grudge against life.

  The best of his poetry, Eliot confessed, had cost him dearly in experience.
  As more is known of his life, it becomes clearer that the impersonal facade
  of his poetry "masks an often quite literal reworking of personal experience."

  Perhaps, the most agonizing experience of the poet's life was the infidelity 
  of Viv, as well as the betrayal by a one-time-mentor and friend, Russell.
  ['Mr. Apollinax' -- "What paradoxes", "a crafty creature of many wiles".]

  In his note to line 138 of 'A Game of Chess', Eliot refers specifically 
  to the game of chess being played in Middleton's play Women Beware 
  Women -- every move in the game corresponding to a step in the forcible 
  seduction of Bianca by the Duke. The allusion could have its basis in
  the seduction of Viv by BR.

  One can imagine the scenario of Tom coming back from the U.S.,
  having left Viv in BR's care :

  Now Albert's coming back, make yourself a bit smart.
  He'll want to know what you done with the money he
       gave you...

  But if Albert makes off, it won't be for lack of telling.
  You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique.

  I can't help it, she said, pulling a long face.
  It's them pills I took, to bring it off, she said.

  Presumably, the only thing that haunted Tom most was Viv's affair 
  with BR and her chores when he was away to America. He would have
  learned of the facts, anyway.

  Hence, in the poem, to the wife's hysterical cry of despair,

  "I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
  With my hair down, so. What shall we do tomorrow?
  What shall we ever do?"

  the husband could only be subtly satirical:

                                     The hot water at ten.
  And if it rains, a closed car at four
  And we shall play a game of chess,
  Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the

  The "knock upon the door" is the one expected from Tom on his arrival
  from the States.

  Now, against the backdrop of this hideous scenario, let's read the lines
  addressed to Stetson -- nope, to BR transposed as Stetson : 

  'You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!   [read Massachusetts Harbor]
  'That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
  'Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
  'Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
  'Oh keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men,
  'Or with his nails he'll dig it up again!
  'You ! hypocrite lecteur ! -- mon semblable, -- mon frere !'

  Well, the poet's neurotic, unhinged psyche could be asking Mr Apollinax
  the uncomfortable tongue-in-cheek question -- accusing him rather sternly
  ("You!") of hypocrisy. 

  Ah, what transmutation of sad facts (?) into artifacts !
  BUT whether these're facts, only Viv's diary could possibly tell. 

  We shall not cease from exploration
  And the end of all our exploring
  Will be to arrive where we started
  And know the place for the first time.


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