Dear George,
I'm sorry.  I couldn't think of any other way to clarify my text.  It is
the part that follows Rickard's and is between asterisks.  I think the
exchange is pretty clear if you just start with me at the line "I
appreciate a serious response."

>>> George Carless <[log in to unmask]> 07/23/09 10:30 AM >>> 
Just a note: some of us don't use fancy HTML email readers (for my 
part I'm reading this on the command-line 'mutt' on a Linux 
server)--not a big deal, but things like bold text, different colours 
etc. aren't likely to make it through. 


Nancy Gish ([log in to unmask]) wrote 
the following on Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 09:30:10AM -0400: 
> I have put my words in bold. 
> N 
> >>> Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>07/23/09 1:04 AM >>> 
> NaN. I findit impossible to sort out who is responsible for which
> here. 
> Some clarification would be greatly appreciated. 
> P. 
> Jul 22, 2009 08:01:26 PM, <A class=parsedEmail 
> href="mailto:[log in to unmask]" target=_blank>[log in to unmask] 
> wrote: 
> I appreciate a serious response. I cannot, however, agree with it as
> explanation. See follow-up notes below. 
> >>> "Rickard A. Parker" < href="mailto:[log in to unmask]"
target=_blank>[log in to unmask]> 
> 07/22/09 9:42 PM >>> 
> Nancy Gish wrote: 
> NG> I'm astonished and offended at this notion that a horror story 
> NG> about death, a corpse in lysol, and terror can be treated 
> NG> "lightly" because it is just about a murdered woman. 
> As Ken wrote earlier, it was you who added the bit about "just about a

> murdered woman." 
> ******************************* 
> Ken and you have taken my words completely out of context. 
> I was responding to this, from Peter; he is describing the killing as 
> described in a playful way, not only the rest of the play: 
> Peter: "Don't think he felt like killing a woman, but then Sweeney 
> doesn't exactlly demo. that except in a playful way. He did happen to 
> know someone like that, as I am sure, did Jesus." 
> My response, as follows, was directly keyed to Peter's calling the 
> Sweeney's description of killing as "in a playful way." 
> I'm astonished and offended at this notion that a horror story about 
> death, a corpse in lysol, and terror can be treated "lightly" because
> is just about a murdered woman. Frankly, you are the last person I 
> expected to add to such a notion. 
> Nancy 
> More importantly, this play is about horror throughout. Doris says
> the beginning that you can't trust Pereira, and she and Dusty try to 
> avoid him even though "he pays the rent." When they cut the cards they

> get the COFFIN and are frightened--and the KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK of the 
> later horror begins when the men first arrive. 
> I did not deny "comedy" in the sense Eliot implies: this is what I
> If what is meant by any of this is that it is perverse, black comedy, 
> cynical wit--yes. "Light," "playful," where? The words on the page 
> are about uneasy and frightened women dependent for the rent, and
> men, and the cynical aftermath of war, and murder. 
> N 
> To any woman all this is fear. Is that hard to see? 
> ***************************** 
> I'll let the playright speak to this: 
> For to those who have experienced the full horror of life, tragedy is 
> still inadequate. […] In the end, horror and laughter may be one — 
> only when horror and laughter have become as horrible and laughable 
> as they can be; and […] you may laugh or shudder over Oedipus or 
> Hamlet or King Lear--or both at once: then only do you perceive that 
> the aim of the comic and the tragic dramatist is the same: they are 
> equally serious. […] There is potential comedy in Sophocles and 
> potential tragedy in Aristophanes, and otherwise they would not be 
> such good tragedians or comedians as they are. 
> The citation given for the > in 'A Companion to Shakespeare Studies', ed. by H. Granville-Barker 
> and G.B. Harrison (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 
> pp. 295–6 
> although I saw a 1934 date given also. 
> **************************** 
> Precisely--comedy is as serious as tragedy, and there is dark comedy, 
> and we know that the ending of Measure for Measure 
> makes it a comedy but the terror of death is powerful in the play. 
> Unlike MM, Eliot's does not end well but in terror. "Comedy" does not 
> simply mean light or funny--read Checkhov, who blends comedy with 
> misery. Do you think Eliot is saying Oedipus is "light"? Or Hamlet or 
> Lear? One may laugh or shudder not because any are light or funny or 
> "comic" in the contemporary limited sense but because there is horror
> laughter and lathere was no comedy in the Sweeney drama any more than
I said "just" in 
> the way you decontextualize it. See above on "black comedy" and 
> "cynical wit." 
> ******************************* 
> Note that Eliot is identifying Aristophanes as a writer of comedys and

> also that Sweeney Agonistes" is sub-titled "Fragments of an
> Melodrama" (where melodrama means a play with music.) So it doesn't
> inconcievable that Eliot might have included both comedy and drama in 
> the play. 
> NG> "Light," "playful," where? 
> I had already written: 
> Still, there is a lighter tone throughout the play. There are 
> the names, repetition and rhythm leading to that. 
> Yes, there is the dark side of the murdered woman but then there is
> the lighter side of a Greek chorus made of white minstrels (and then 
> that made up with Swarts (black) and Snow (white,) Snow on bones 
> (white).) And let's add Sweeney as the King of clubs. Oh, yes, the 
> completed play apparently was to be entitled "Wanna Go Home, Baby?" (a

> hint that a tradegy was to follow?) 
> ******************************** 
> It is the ironic use of comic material that is, in fact, horrible; it
> not "light" because, as you quoted Eliot above, it is as serious as 
> tragedy. 
> ******************************** 
> NG> What does the fact that a woman's college performed it have to do 
> NG> with seeing it as horrific or not? Women are the ones who are most

> NG> danger from such men. Of course they would put it on. What does 
> NG> one expect? Light comedy and cheerleading? 
> Okay, that was not one of my better moments but I did not expect a
> Vassar production to put on a play then as dark as you imagine. 
> ***************************** 
> I still wonder why ever not? What do you think intellectual women did 
> then? 
> ***************************** 
> While 
> I'm a bit more unsure of that now I still doubt that they would. I'll 
> appreciate some proof before changing my mind. In the meantime this is

> what I have to go on besides my belief: 
> May 6, 1933 
> The Experimental Theatre presented a mime sequence, Now I Know Love, 
> which included the world premiere of T.S. Eliot's first play, Sweeney 
> Agonistes. The other plays were three by Theocritus, translated by 
> Professor Philip H. Davis, Penthouse by Mary Morley Crapo, '34, and 
> Telephone by Dorothy Parker. The music was composed by Associate 
> Professor Quincy Porter. Mr. Eliot was present and gave a poetry 
> reading on the following day. 
> Also, the director wrote Eliot about the play beforehand and he wrote 
> Haille Flanagan that F.M. Cornford's "The Origin of Attic Comedy"
> was essential to understanding his goals in that play. I'll just let
> go at that for now except for acknowledging that there could be a lot
> discussion on that in itself. 
> And now, off topic for a bit. 
> *POSSIBLY* Dorothy Parker's "Telephone" at Vassar was a performance of

> her short work "A Telephone Call." The text of that is at: 
> <A class=parsedLink 
> href="> A MP3 file of a reading can be gotten via page (I haven't downloaded 
> it): 
> <A class=parsedLink 
> href="" 
> target=_blank> 
> To get me into more hot water, here are some short items my searches 
> have picked up: 
> A quip on Vassar by Dorothy Parker: 
> If all the girls at Vassar were laid end to end, I wouldn't be 
> surprised. 
> This one is unattributed. I picture it said with a Yiddish accent: 
> You can lead a whore to Vassar, but you can't make her think. 
> *************************** 
> That sort of thing used to be thought funny. I had thought explicit 
> misogyny (even from Dorothy Parker) and a Jew being nasty would have 
> lost some of its claim to wit. 
> This whole discussion has been unfortunately revealing. I don't think 
> you would find many women who would find the fear of men, the need to 
> being eaten, and the story about "doing a girl in" light or funny or 
> "comic." What is the matter with any of you? Can you simply not 
> imagine playing Doris instead of Sweeney? 
> Eliot apparently knew it was horrible tragi-comedy. 
> N 
> ******************** 
> One more thing. At a question and answer session at Vassar Eliot 
> mentioned that his poetry was simple and [something]. That prompted 
> laughter from the audience. 
> Regards, 
> Rick Parker