As you know, my "fuss" was in response to the silly and offensive remark
about envy, not at all about Eliot and Dante.
As no one ever was prevented from discussing Dante, what is that fuss?
For those interested, there was a wonderful conference in Florence last
year on Eliot and Dante (which I, despite being a scholar and so
suspect, attended along with other scholars like Jewel Brooker, Stefano
Casella, and Dante scholars from many countries), and the proceedings
may be published at some time.  I don't know if or when.
It is offensive for anyone on this list to deride scholarship, which
has made possible even the reading of Eliot, through editing, and the
ideas most here tend to reiterate.  Without scholarship, there would be
no basis for any of this--how else does anyone know about his sources or
date of conversion or writings on Dante?  Eliot, as it happens, was
himself a scholar--having done a Ph.D. that was accepted and having
studied massively in European literature and Eastern religion and
practically everything else.  He never pretended one should simply open
one's heart and read.
I do not understand the reason, but it is tiresome, counterproductive,
and especially silly when it creates mutual patting for others' mean
remarks.  No one is, to my knowledge, ever mocking interested reading by

>>> Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> 4/15/2009 12:13 PM >>>
The thing is that Danté's influence on Eliot's verse is BIG in Eliot's
early poetry yet it seldom gets mentioned or considered on this list. It
would be disingenuous to leave people with the impression that Danté did
not matter to Eliot until he decided to become a Christian. I can assert
my point in no uncertain terms. On July 4, 1950 Eliot gave a talk to The
Italian Institute in London, in which the following passage ocurrs early
"I do not feel that I have anything more to contribute, on the subject
of Danté's poetry, than I put, years ago, into a brief essay. As I
explained in the original preface to that essay, I read Dante only with
a prose translation beside the text. Forty years ago I began to puzzle
out the Divine Comedy in this way; and when I thought I had grasped the
meaning of a passage which especially delighted me, I committed it to
memory; so that, for some years, I was able to recite a large part of
one canto or another to myself, lying in bed or on a railway journey.
Heaven knows what it would have sounded like, had I recited it aloud;
but it was by this means that I steeped myself in Danté's poetry. And
now it is twenty years since I set down all that my meagre attainments
qualified me to say about Danté. But I thought it not uninteresting to
myself, and possibly to others, to try to record in what my own debt to
Danté consists. I do not think I can explain everything, even to myself;
but as I still, after forty years, regard his poetry as the most
persistent and deepest influence upon my own verse, I should like to
establish at least some of the reasons for it."
(republished in "What Danté Means to ME" on p. 125 of TO CRITICIZE THE
So, 1950 - 40 = 1910. Early Eliot poetry time!!! Consider the epigraph
of Prufrock.
Consider the multifoliate rose of "The Hollow Men" &c. &c. &c. So I
the place of Danté in Eliot's early poetry is not just a matter for
scholars. It is
a matter for any student of Eliot's early poetry to consider. That Danté
may have played a
role in Eliot's conversion is not hard to believe, although I don't
happen to know how one could verify the matter.
So, if anyone's interest is peaked, he or she might well want to listen
to what Robert Harrison has to say about Danté in the podcast which I
Harrison provides a kind of mini intro to The Inferno, and to some
extent the Purgatorio.
I could even believe it might help the odd teacher with Prufrock.
So as far as I am concerned, in my original post on this thread, I
provided an important reference, and a valid critical opinion of one
point about this list. So what is all the fuss about?
----- Original Message ----- 

From: Chokh Raj ( mailto:[log in to unmask] ) 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 5:47 AM
Subject: Re: Interview with Robert Harrison: or, what more could one
want than a weekly literary talk show with an expert as host?

Thanks, Peter, for making a crucial statement: 
"Being extremely aware, and being sensitive, are not the same thing."
An express lesson for the critics to learn.
And herein lies the rub !!!

--- On Wed, 4/15/09, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Interview with Robert Harrison: or, what more could one
want than a weekly literary talk show with an expert as host?
To: [log in to unmask] 
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 6:43 AM

I think both of your messages speak for themselves.  I am not the one
who always turns every message into a personal jibe.  I've no interest
in that anyway and do not intend to continue this nonsense.

>>> Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> 4/15/2009 6:36 AM >>>
I did, and look at the response it evoked.
I responded in kind.
You might find it useful to try not being patronising.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Nancy Gish (
http:[log in to unmask] ) 
To: [log in to unmask] (
http:[log in to unmask] ) 
Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 12:05 AM
Subject: Re: Interview with Robert Harrison: or, what more could one
want than a weekly literary talk show with an expert as host?

Try not to be ridiculous.  Surely you must have something to say that
is not just silly.

>>> Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask] (
http:[log in to unmask]
)> 4/15/2009 3:45 AM >>>
Being extremely aware, and being sensitive, are not the same thing.

Do I detect some professional envy?


-----Original Message-----
From: T. S.. Eliot Discussion forum. on behalf of Nancy Gish
Sent: Tue 4/14/2009 1:52 AM
To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: Re: Interview with Robert Harrison: or, what more could one
want than a weekly literary talk show with an expert as host?

** High Priority **

It would not be possible to be an Eliot scholar and not be extremely
aware of the Dante influence--or, of course, that he was culturally
Christian growing up.  These facts are unavoidable and no one questions
their significance.  It has nothing to do with whether one prefers early
or late poetry and it is not a matter of skewing one's readings to
pretend he wasn't.  But as an undergraduate he did consider becoming a
Buddhist, and he was not actively engaged in being Christian in the
later sense.

On the first, in the new book on The International Reception of T. S.
Eliot there is a very fascinating article by Stefan Maria Casella on
Eliot in Italy for those who are interested in this issue.

On the second, it is impossible to read Eliot at all without seeing how
the poetry changed after the conversion.

>>> Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> 4/14/2009 12:26 AM >>>
If you're an Eliot scholar who is sensitive to the Dante
influebce, and it was BIG in Eliot even though it gets
mentioned precious little on this list, you may be interested
in the preeminent US scholar, Robert Harrison, and
what he has to say in this podcast. 

If you want to hear more of Robert Harrison, you can go to his podcast

It's blurb is as follows:

"Entitled Opinions (about Life and Literature)" - hosted by Professor
Robert Harrison - is a weekly literary talk show that ranges broadly on
issues related to literature, ideas, and lived experience. The show is
typically a one-on-one conversation with a special guest about select
topics or authors about which he or she is especially entitled to an
opinion. Past guests have included Orhan Pamuk, Paul Ehrlich, Richard
Rorty, Shirley Hazzard, Andrei Linde, Rene Girard, Michel Serres, and
many others.

Robert Harrison is the Rosina Pierotti Professor in Italian Literature
at Stanford University and is Chair of the Department of French and
Italian, where he has been since 1985. He was trained as a Dantista at
Cornell University where he received his Ph.D. in Romance Studies in
1984. His latest book is Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition, and
his other publications include The Body of Beatrice, Forests: The Shadow
of Civilization, and The Dominion of the Dead....."