Print

Print


Tom,

 

You seem to be unaware of published speculations that Eliot and Vivienne had a "white" or sexless marriage, and that this may have accounted for Viv's fling with Bertie Russell. 

 

Diana
 


Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2009 11:05:42 -0400
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Waste Land Sex
To: [log in to unmask]




D> And there is no evidence whatsoever that at the time of
D> writing TWL Eliot ever had a sexually intimate relationship

I'm not sure what sort of evidence would exist for _anybody_, except perhaps for a pregnant woman or someone who has photographed themselves in the act.

Nonetheless, I'll try a few things:

1) Eliot was married on June 26, 1915; TWL was published in 1922.

2) In "Ode", he writes,

   When the bridegroom smoothed his hair 
   There was blood upon the bed

3) In "TWL" he writes,

     when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
   Your arms full, and your hair wet

===================

It's possible that at the time of writing TWL Eliot never had a sexually intimate relationship, but it's not very likely.

-- Tom --
 

Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2009 14:30:48 +0000
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Waste Land Sex
To: [log in to unmask]



Tom,
 
The lines do not indicate that they are "aprés-ski" at all. The speaker doesn't say "should I HAVE forced the moment to its crisis?" but rather "Should I...have the strength to force the moment to its crisis." In the subsequent passage he worried that a moment's surrender could never be retracted.  It's all very future conditional.
 
And there is no evidence whatsoever that at the time of writing TWL Eliot ever had a sexually intimate relationship.
 
Diana
 


Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2009 07:44:27 -0400
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Waste Land Sex
To: [log in to unmask]




N> There is really no sex that is not sordid or crude or violent
N> (think of the many rapes in TWL) in Eliot's poetry.  
N> There are moments of sensual longing (like the brown hair
N> in both "Prufrock" and "Ash-Wednesday" 
N> or the moment in the rose garden), 
N> but there is no sex act that is presented as beautiful or loving.

I would nominate these lines from Prufrock and TWL (which I suspect refer to the same relationship, the Prufrock lines being 'before' and the TWL lines being 'after' the relationship became intimate).

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

              what have we given?
My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment's surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed

-- Tom --




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 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. 
 




Windows Live: Keep your friends up to date with what you do online. Find out more.


Windows Live: Make it easier for your friends to see what you’re up to on Facebook. Find out more.


With Windows Live, you can organize, edit, and share your photos. Click here.


Windows Live: Make it easier for your friends to see what you’re up to on Facebook. Find out more.
_________________________________________________________________
Windows Live: Make it easier for your friends to see what you’re up to on Facebook.
http://windowslive.com/Campaign/SocialNetworking?ocid=PID23285::T:WLMTAGL:ON:WL:en-US:SI_SB_facebook:082009