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."
Best,
Nancy

>>> 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.

Cheers,
George

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 words
> 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 an
> explanation. See follow-up notes below.
>
> >>> "Rickard A. Parker" <<A class="parsedEmail parsedEmail"
> 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 it
> 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 from
> 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 said:
>
>
> 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 crass
> 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 above was:
> T. S. Eliot, "Shakespearian Criticism: From Dryden to Coleridge,"
> 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 in
> 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 Aristopanic
> Melodrama" (where melodrama means a play with music.) So it doesn't seem
>
> 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 also
>
> 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 is
> 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 1933
> 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" (1912)
>
> was essential to understanding his goals in that play. I'll just let it
> go at that for now except for acknowledging that there could be a lot of
>
> 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="http://www.americanliterature.com/Parker/SS/ATelephoneCall.html"
> target=_blank>http://www.americanliterature.com/Parker/SS/ATelephoneCall.html
>
> A MP3 file of a reading can be gotten via page (I haven't downloaded
> it):
> <A class=parsedLink
> href="http://www.podcastdirectory.com/podshows/84981"
> target=_blank>http://www.podcastdirectory.com/podshows/84981
>
> 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
>