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Hi Diana
 
I'm entertaining myself with the image of TSE ever trying to have any social intercourse with a Nottinghamshire collier of the DHL / Morel ilk !
 
I think Valere was the closest TSE ever came to 'a bit of rough'
 
Regards
 
David

On Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 3:04 PM, Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Dear Nancy,
 
The fact that Eliot felt the need in the "Death by Water" section of TWL for purification from certain of his desires that were not after all acted on is symptomatic of a serious disturbance, not simple class snobbery. He seems to have been horrified by unrepressed sexuality, even or especially of the heterosexual kind between consenting adults:
 
Commenting on the D.H. Lawrence in the suppressed essay "Personality and Demonic Possession" Eliot writes:
 
"the social obsession which makes his well-born -- or almost well-born -- ladies offer themselves to -- or make use of -- plebeians, springs from the same morbidity which makes his other female characters bestow their favours upon savages. The author of that book seems to me to have been a very sick man indeed."
 
He regularly depicts "plebeians" as a lower form of life, not quite human, and he was as shocked by scenes of their sexual activity as a nun coming across two dogs mating. Eliot, raised on classic myths, bestowed the names of anthropodeities only on the upper class, even when they in his view misbehaved. He would never call Mellors Priapus for example, because he regarded him as little more than an animal.
 
Diana
 
 

Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2009 17:43:09 -0400
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Waste Land Sex
To: [log in to unmask]

The business between Viv and Bertie was well after the Harvard class that evoked "Mr. Appollinax," and Russell was a good friend to Eliot for quite a long time after Eliot married:  he lent Tom and Viv his flat and helped them in many ways before the affair caused a break.  It is not at all clear that the affair was mainly due to Russell either, despite the fact that he seems to have had more affairs than one can count anyway.
 
I think there is some truth to both points that keep being made here, and they are not mutually exclusive.  There is really no sex that is not sordid or crude or violent (think of the many rapes in TWL) in Eliot's poetry.  There are moments of sensual longing (like the brown hair in both "Prufrock" and "Ash-Wednesday" or the moment in the rose garden), but there is no sex act that is presented as beautiful or loving.  At least I cannot think of one.  Sweeney's are coldly vicious, as in "Sweeney Erect," or menacing, as in "Sweeney Agonistes."   
 
On the other hand, Diana is quite accurate about the language used for lower classes.  It is true that the narrator of "Dans le Restaurant" is revolted that the old waiter had desires like his own.  But it ends in the scene of death by water, a kind of purification.  And it is also the case that the waiter is recalling a time when he was seven years old.  The narrator is presumably an adult.  So his horror is a bit odd, to say the least.  Also, the sailors seem an exception, as I noted.  There are many presumably wealthy or cosmopolitan figures who are represented in very negative language, but it is not the language Diana notes.
 
Cheers,
Nancy

>>> Diana Manister 08/26/09 2:10 PM >>>
Dear CR:
 
First of all, I'd like to know how any foetus could be responsible.
 
Secondly, TSE would not compare a ditch-digger to Priapus. Yes, I get the jibe. But Russell is not summarily dismissed; he is in fact treated quite well considering that he went off for a bit with Eliot's wife. A high-class lecher.
 
Think of the sordid atmosphere of Lil's section in TWL; a woman with missing teeth and too many children who aborted herself with something from the pharmacy, not even a doctor. The typist's squalid amours with her pimply indifferent lover. These are described as lower forms of life.
 
These characters are written in a different key from Priapus in the garden. It's a matter of the language used and the imagery.
 
Diana
 

Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2009 08:51:48 -0700
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Waste Land Sex
To: [log in to unmask]

Photo of Bertrand Russell
Photo by Larry Burrows
 
Bertrand Russell
 
"He laughed like an irresponsible foetus."
 
"What paradoxes! Man is a cunning creature of many devices." 
 
In "Mr. Apollinax", Eliot does not fail to take a jibe at the high-class Bertrand Russell's irresponsible sensuality. The poet is reminded of "Priapus in the shrubbery / Gaping at the lady in the swing."
 
Some ennobling light, that :)
 
CR


--- On Tue, 8/25/09, Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
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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