Yes, we all know the high-flown classical allusions in Eliot. My point is that he portrayed the upper class in an ennobling light, as if social status precluded casual sex or unattractiveness. I can't think of a single lower class character in his work that is noble or attractive. That is the less-discussed aspect of the typist episode.

Date: Sun, 23 Aug 2009 00:50:10 -0400
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Waste Land Sex
To: [log in to unmask]

Diana wrote (Mon 8/17/09 9:11 AM):
D> The sexual interlude between the typist and her pimply lover

D> was depicted as sordid because of it's working-class character.

D> Note the one-room bedsit the typist occupies.
D> If you believe Eliot's subtext, aristocrats don't get zits . . .

I believe that Eliot is also re-telling the parallel story of Narcissus, Echo, and Tiresias from Metamorphoses By Ovid. In the original story, as Narcissus looks at himself in a pool of water (and falls in love with his own image), he is described as having "all the purple youthfulness of face, / That gently blushes in the wat'ry glass." I imagine that is the literary origin of the description of the vain "young man carbuncular" and his zits.

-- Tom --


Metamorphoses By Ovid
Translated into English verse under the direction of Sir Samuel Garth by John Dryden, Alexander Pope, Joseph Addison, William Congreve and other eminent hands from 1713.

The Story of Narcissus, Echo, Tiresias (Book 3)

 . . .

For as his own bright image he survey'd, 
He fell in love with the fantastick shade; 
And o'er the fair resemblance hung unmov'd, 
Nor knew, fond youth! it was himself he lov'd. 
The well-turn'd neck and shoulders he descries, 
The spacious forehead, and the sparkling eyes; 
The hands that Bacchus might not scorn to show, 
And hair that round Apollo's head might flow; 
With all the purple youthfulness of face, 
That gently blushes in the wat'ry glass.


Date: Mon, 17 Aug 2009 13:10:32 +0000
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Waste Land Sex
To: [log in to unmask]

The sexual interlude between the typist and her pimply lover was depicted as sordid because of it's working-class character. Note the one-room bedsit the typist occupies. If you believe Eliot's subtext, aristocrats don't get zits and their sexual activities are never approbrious. Never mind all those Irish servant girls who had their master's babies.
Eliot would never find sex between poor people natural or good. Or even between Lady Chatterly and Mellors, even though it was mutually satisfying and desired. Sex between Lord and Lady Chatterly was presumably acceptable, no matter the dissatisfaction of either or both parties, because it was sanctified by class and the law.

Date: Sun, 16 Aug 2009 15:25:53 -0400
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Waste Land Sex
To: [log in to unmask]

The scene between the bored shop girl and clerk always struck me because in most novels and TV Shows and movies depicting the early and mid twentieth century, a story involving sexual intimacy between umarried people is always depicted as a big deal, a secret, etc.  One would think that no one had sex until the 1960's.   Eliot  was able to see and reveal the truth in this area of human life, but yet, he did not appear to realize that people of different ethnic origins and races were much the same in the basics and that differences were the result of upbringing, environment, education, etc.  Bizarre.

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