Gunnar, Tom and Rick: Doesn't the discussion below indicate that the Eliot's use of "water" as a symbol in TWL is so equivocal that it cannot be connected to any consistent signified? This would not be a flaw in Finnegans Wake or Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons (water is water is water) or any text that takes semantic shifts as a subject, but in a poem that is otherwise symbolic it seems a misstep. Diana

From:  Gunnar Jauch <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Subject:  Re: Fearing death by water
Date:  Wed, 8 Aug 2007 20:26:28 +0200
Am 08.08.2007 um 17:40 schrieb Rickard A. Parker:

>I wrote to Diana (in part and on Fri, 3 Aug 2007):
>>Somewhere in this long thread I believe you asked
>>something like "Why fear death by water?"
>Tom Gray quoted this in a reply and added (on Fri, 3 Aug 2007):
>>Doesn't Eliot provide and answer to that question?
>>"Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you"
>I'm reading your reply as Eliot setting up the comparison "Phlebas
>died and you will too."  While certainly true, I don't see that as a
>reason to fear death.  Diana and CR were discussing the redemptive
>quality of Phlebas' drowning.  I'm not going to go that far myself  
>but it doesn't appear to be a death to be feared.  Nor did the
>drowning of the fishermen in the draft of the poem. Nor the
>to The Tempest scattered within the poem (Those are potatoes that
>eyes.)  Other Eliot poems that have death by water also don't seem
>me to be fearful of a death by water.
>     Rick Parker


did you consider the last line of Prufrock:

"Till human voices wake us, and we drown."

They seem to imply redemption by  seaweed wreathed sea-girls as well  as fear.



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