Re: electric heat, deep lane in East Coker 

As Nancy noted, "electric" seems to present more difficult in finding the
immediate 'literal' sense (or material base of that sense) than does "deep
lane." I dobut very much that that reference could be actual "electrical
heating systems." Any how, such heating systems tend to 'feel' more like
hot-water heat than anything direct. Also, presumably the lane is shaded:
the heat is invisible. But maybe that casts doubt on my first sentence.
Electrical heating systems are invisible: no registers, no radiators, no
noise of gurgling water, hissing steam, or rumbling fans. Still, the
context, unlike the subway passages in Burnt Norton, does not seem to
encourage bringing in modern technology as the image base. "Electric heat"
has always 'felt' right to me, but then I never inuired into it as Tim now
has.  The kind of electric heat common in Eliot's day would have been stoves
and toasters. Perhaps the cliché "hot as an oven" is floating in the
background. Nah.  Then, incandexcent light bulbs give off a good deal of
heat (as do the contemporary low-energy bulbs for that matter). 

On 6/29/2011 10:35 AM, Materer, Timothy J. wrote: Can anyone say what Eliot
might mean in East Coker by "electric heat"? I agree with the hermeneutic
tradition that a word or phrase must first be construed in its immediate
context before one goes wfhoring off after "deeper meanings." And in a poem
(or set of poems) concerned, both directly and indirectly, with "purifying
the language of the tribe," with refusing to accept a worn-out poetic
practice as adequate, I would hate to think Eliot would have allowed himself
the dissolute practice of merely depending on the vague suggestiveness of a
term. (For example, "awful daring of a moment's surrender" in TWL resolutely
rejects thinkingof "awful" in such contexts as "Wasn't that an awfully
meal." It forces the reader back to "awe-inspiring"; something that forces
attention to halt and gaze in "admirationd" (in the Horatian sense, as in
Pope's "Not to admire is all the art I know / To make men happy and to keep
them so"). (All quotations from memory.) In short, I really would like an
answer to Tim's question - and my quasi-freeassociation hasn't carried us
very far. 


"And the deep lane insists on the direction / Into the village, in the
electric heat / Hypnotised." 

Maybe it has to do with the etymology of the word? 

Also, a question for those who are better acquainted with the mother tongue,
is "deep lane" Eliot's original image, or is he using a common term for a

Timothy Materer 
English Department 
Univ. of Missouri