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Diana wrote:
D> (Eugenides) certainly didn't jump the speaker at their
D> first meeting, but at a location at which they would have
D> agreed to meet.
D> The speaker in TWL doesn't sound as if he were interested
D> in seeing Eugenides again.

Having the narrator describe Eugenides as "unshaven" and speaking in "demotic French" certainly makes it sound like the narrator is not enthralled with the merchant. However, I'm reading those lines as the narrator reflecting on a past event ("Mr. Eugenides .../Asked me" [past tense]). That is, Eugenides, now revealed as a rapist, appears (in the narrator's memory) as 'unshaven' and generally unsavory.

D> If such a rape were a leitmotif or subtext of that part of the poem
D> why would the allusion be heterosexual in nature? Surely some
D> classical homosexual reference would have been more appropriate.

Remember, at this time period people were going to jail for being gay (e.g., Oscar Wilde). I believe Eliot wanted to write about this important episode, but he wanted "plausible deniability", that is, he wanted to be able to say "there's nothing homosexual about this passage" if he was challenged about it. So the direct references to rape are to heterosexual rapes. Of course, Eliot then brings in Tiresias, alluding to a mix of male and female sexuality (which, in my reading, is an oblique allusion to the narrator's homosexuality).

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

This morning I noticed something about the 'sandwiched' rape passages that may be of interest. The name of the king that rapes Philomela is "Tereus", but Eliot leaves off one letter of the king's name in the lines leading up the Eugenides passage:

----------------------------
Twit twit twit
Jug jug jug jug jug jug
So rudely forc'd.
Tereu
 
Unreal City
Under the brown fog of a winter noon
Mr. Eugenides . . .
----------------------------

Doing this makes the King's shortened name ("Tereu") end in the same opening letters (and syllable) as "Eugeniges"
(i.e., Ter-'eu' / 'Eu' - genides). My guess is that Eliot did this to create a nexus between the "rapist king" and the "rapist merchant".

-- Tom --
 

Date: Mon, 10 May 2010 14:03:32 -0400
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Mr. Eugenides
To: [log in to unmask]


Whether Eugenides is a rapist or not would not alter his status as a nomad who travels from culture to culture, as a merchant required to learn each one's customs and language. His alleged rape would not remove him from the category of foreigner adopting personae to fit into cultures not his own. 


However, he certainly didn't jump the speaker at their first meeting, but at a location at which they would have agreed to meet. The speaker in TWL doesn't sound as if he were interested in seeing Eugenides again.


If such a rape were a leitmotif or subtext of that part of the poem why would the allusion be heterosexual in nature? Surely some classical homosexual reference would have been more appropriate.


Diana 
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