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Dear Kate,

 

It's difficult to know if and how his obvious social inferiority in England was expressed in his work. He had to be awed by the aristos with whom he hobnobbed. No one in American lived in a place like Knoll, or Garsington for that matter. Only American public buildings were comparable to these private estates. Not to mention the family trees of his friends, which included Lords, Ladies and often royals. Eliot's own impressive American ancestors weren't much in comparison.

 

One could speculate that he enlarged his upper class characters to tragic proportions and afforded them more dignity than he allowed to his lower class personages because he felt the aristos were above him (in many ways that mattered to Eliot they were) and wouldn't consider portraying them in undignified ways. 

 

Perhaps too, sneering at his social inferiors like waiters and typists, and in his mind Jews, soothed his sense of being inferior to the Bloomsberries and their peripheral Lords and Ladies.

 

In any case, it's simplistic to assume that because he worked in a bank he would sympathize with the working class.

 

Diana
 


Date: Tue, 25 Aug 2009 21:07:24 -0400
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Waste Land Sex
To: [log in to unmask]


Diana,
 
I don't blame him for refusing to take the "collection" from friends.  However, in today's world, he would have  other options, such as applying for a grant or a "poet in residence" position at a University.  But, he would also be up for ridicule from the wealthy and middle class alike, had he taken the attitude that for reason of his class and intellectual superiority, he shouldn't have to work, a healthy, able bodied man.  In fact, that a man, or woman,of class  and former means found working a restaurant in order to take care of their family would be considered as a person with character.
 
Kate
 
 

In a message dated 8/25/2009 2:33:26 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, [log in to unmask] writes:
Dear Kate:
 
At least one biographer has noted that Eliot was painfully aware of his relatively humble rank among his colleagues, as well as his American background in an English milieu. Think of Bloomsbury. The "Woolves" were not wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice, but they were solidly upper class. So much so that a true blueblood like Vita Sackville-West regarded her as a peer. Vita was raised in one of the most stately "homes" in England, Knole House, and later lived in Sissinghurst Castle:
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knole_House
 
Another of Eliot's friends was Lady Ottoline Morrel, whose cousin became Queen of England. His visits to Garsington House would have contrasted powerfully with his rented digs.
 
The fact that he mingled among them does not mean he was not literally inferior socially and economically. He was the only one for whom a collection was taken up so that he would not have to continue working in the bank, an act that embarrassed him and which he refused.
 
Diana
 


Date: Tue, 25 Aug 2009 11:51:12 -0400
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Waste Land Sex
To: [log in to unmask]


Yet he had to earn a living for awhile in a bank.  Did he really believe that only people born into wealth matter?  Absurd.
 
Kate
 

In a message dated 8/25/2009 11:22:34 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, [log in to unmask] writes:
Dear CR,
 
I'm not sure "heirs of City Directors" are "high class." One rung above shopkeepers in Eliot's regard, I would think. In any case, the departure of the nymphs is tinged with tragedy, as the elegaic tone indicates, and tragedy does not befall insignificant typists. The nymphs are archetypes, not real girls.
 
As for the waiter, well the point there is the narrator's self-disgust that he behaves no better than someone who serves him in a restaurant.  Whenever someone is actually earning their living, Eliot is contemptuous. 
 
Diana
 


Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2009 21:47:11 -0700
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Waste Land Sex
To: [log in to unmask]








There is nothing ennobling about the sexual misadventures of the high class "heirs of City Directors" -- their sexual exploitation of the Thames daughters is shown in a poor light.
 
In 'Dans le Restaurant", there is an admission by the high class narrator that his own (sexual) "experiences" are as reprehensible as the waiter's -- how shall the waiter pay back for experiences quite like his own, he asks.
 
And in 'Burbank', the 'gondola' fragment of the epigraph takes its full meaning in relation to Princess Volupine's pleasure boat landing beside the old palace where the foxy voluptuary entertains Sir Ferdinand Klein. The boatman smiles as one who shares in their secret. In the epigraph, the old dilapidated palace, emblematic of degenerate aristocracy, gets associated in the poet's mind with unabashed lust.
 
CR
 
 
Diana Manister 08/23/09 9:50 AM >>>



My point is that he portrayed the upper class in an ennobling light, as if social status precluded casual sex or unattractiveness. 
 



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