Yes, and one looks for it and promotes it critically, but it is in the context also of many conflicting readings that one should know, consider, and recognize as significant connections. In a poem quoting or alluding to a huge mass of texts in the Western tradition from Sappho to the present, that is even more the case. It is very easy to take one or a few or a cluster that are related and pronounce that they define the poem.
>>> Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]
> 09/17/11 2:44 PM >>>
Statements containing the word "absolute" are themselves 'texts' and
subject themselves to varying readings. One does, as a matter of
empirical fact, 'sorta' assume some "ideal essence' to a text as one
reads it. It isn't there, but (again "sorta") assuming it can be a
useful fiction; it creates pressure to look for evidence and consider
Incidentally, in each of the thre 'big' sex scenes in TWL (married
couple, typist, discussion of abortion in the pub) there is a time
marker: closed car at four; home at teatime, and closing time) -- and in
the pub scene that gets underlined. It's closing time, but bursting in
as it does the line does exert pressure to genralize it in some way. I
don't know whether this is a useful observation or not.
On 9/17/2011 11:55 AM, Nancy Gish wrote:
> It is always problematic to take any one (or sometimes more) statement of Eliot and use it to claim what Eliot thought. Like any intelligent person, he thought many different things over a lifetime, and some changed in patterns. His early claim that TWL could be understood by studying Weston and Fraser was one he most firmly altered later in saying he had sent a generation of critics on a wild goose chase. But it is very possible he meant it both times.
> In fact, I think he really meant the line about a "grouse against life" in retrospect because he had a very harsh and disturbing--and disturbed--life at the time he composed TWL. His marriage was a disaster; he and Viv were always ill; it was just after the War when life was very difficult for everyone (and some was composed during the War and before); Verdenal had died in that War; and Eliot was having a "nervous breakdown," or, in then-clinical language, "neurasthenia" and by his own account "aboulia." So it could well be that at the time he found in the reframing by Pound and the notion of Weston's theory a sense of order and meaning that was compelling in the midst of his personal and the cultural chaos. But in looking back he could understand it in a different way as the personal chaos it was.
> If there were any "absolute meaning" to TWL, one would think that many of the best minds of almost a century could have had at least some greater consensus about it. But it remains as enigmatic, as "immense, magnificent, terrible" as John Peale Bishop
> found it in 1922. I have called it Eliot's Hamlet (by his terms, since Hamlet certainly does have emotional horrors sufficient to evoke his actions) in that it also has no "objective correlative." Or, on the other hand, like Hamlet, it does.
>>>> "Rickard A. Parker" 09/17/11 12:28 PM>>>
> On Fri, 16 Sep 2011 03:59:59 -0700, Chokh Raj wrote:
>> Eliot once explained (to Philip Mairet, 31 October, 1956; the Collection of
> Violet Welton) that, even if a poem meant different things to different
> readers, it was still necessary to assert its 'absolute' meaning. (Peter
> Ackroyd, 'T.S. Eliot: A Life', p. 271)
> Taken from the book's blurb:
> A major reinterpretation, __T.S. Eliot's Personal Waste Land: Exorcism
> of the Demons__ takes Eliot at his word in his reiterated statements
> that The Waste Land was not a "criticism of the contemporary world"
> but a personal "grouse against life."
> Is that an assertion?
> Rick Parker