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.