Dear Nancy,

I read TWL as monologic; words spoken by the poem's characters are recollected by the narrator (whether N is TSE is another question.) Where Joyce in the last chapters of Ullyses is truly polyphonic in that no actual or implied narrator helps the reader form a coherent point-of-view with regard to the speech of the characters, it seems to me that TWL does imply that the events and conversational fragments of TWL are recollected by a narrator and mix with his present nearly hallucinatory perceptions as he surveys the devastated landscape left by the war. The narrator's reflections occur in the poem's present.

Joyce's novel is also more open-ended and unresolved than TWL. The epiphanies of TWL's narrator are apophatic, that is to say he proceeds through negatives; his memories and present perceptions lead to the conclusion that the meaning to be found in the urban environment is almost completely unstable and contingent, death-bringing instead of life-enhancing. Neither is the Romantic sublime of nature seen as an option. TWL however is not without resolution of a kind. Its narrator resolves to turn from unsatisfactory human society to search for meaning that offers absolute meaning. "Shantih" represents N's realization and commitment to the search for it, rather than its achievement.




From:  Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Subject:  Re: The Context of Marie ( Was Re: a Jeremiah sighting?)
Date:  Fri, 13 Jul 2007 13:43:25 -0400
Diana, that assumes, first, that Eliot composed all this with a single
aim--highly questionable--and, second, that characters in the poem all
speak within the contemporary context--also highly questionable.  Much
of it is remembered or can be read as thoughts in someone's mind.  The
journey to Emmaus, for example, is not happening in 1921, nor is
Shakleton's expedition nor much else in allusions.

As Eliot was in Germany when the war began and had to get out in painful
circumstances, he knew that at first hand.  But that was in 1914.

The poem was, as Aiken said, composed of many parts from many
periods--some at least as early as 1913.  So even if he fit them into a
mosaic with all the conscious intention you see, they do not fit into a
single unified intention in their creation.  I don't think they ever do,
but that is a different way of reading.

Nancy, Eliot knew full well by 1920 that the German empire had
effectively disintegrated. Marie's words are a kind of voice-over,
reminiscences of life in the Europe that had remained more or less
stable since the Napoleanic Wars. Her voice is heard as a soundtrack
while scenes of devastation are panned over. She might not have been
referring to the war when she spoke with Eliot (there already were
straws in the wind) but the poem's Marie, whose prototype readers were
not expected to know anything about, speaks in 1920 of life as a
privileged aristocrat in the pre-war German Empire. Diana

Nancy wrote:

>>> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 07/13/07 11:07 AM >>>

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