CR, I missed a rare opportunity to use the famous comment Gertrude Stein made, at about the same time that Marie was reminiscing: "There is no there there."  Cheers! Diana

CR wrote: A point of view, quite valid perhaps.  I may not subscribe to it, though.



Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Dear CR: I think the relativism of Marie's statement is underscored when Eliot puts "there" in apposition to "in the mountains." Marie's experience of the mountains is specific. She is not Tieresias who visits all locations in all historical periods, as both sexes. Her experience is sexually, socially and historically limited. "In the mountains, there you feel free." What mountains? Not the mountains in which peasants pick
berries to eat because food is scarce, or chop wood to heat their simple dwellings , or gather herbs to self-medicate their illnesses because medical care is lacking. Not mountains in which you necessarily must steal wood or food because they belong to a powerful landowner. Not everyone's experience of the mountains is carefree. In the mountains where servants do the heavy lifting and you are in the company of the rich and powerful, there you feel free.
When Marie speaks or recalls "the mountains," her experience of the mountains is implied. She is not referring to the mountain experiences of anyone but herself. Eliot is not writing a Wordsworthian Prelude whose subject is the transcendence available in sublime natural settings. He is taking as a subject the contingent nature of speech. Marie refers to a mountain experience that is no longer available to her as a refugee. Later in life the model for Marie became a domestic worker herself. The
signified does not exist except in her memory, but she refers to it as if life with the archduke and his household were still possible.
Think of what is included in Marie's word "there:" the mountains as they were once upon a time. Speech communicates illusions. Marie reads now and goes south in the winter. She does not return "there" because it no longer exists. Diana

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