Print

Print


I will not bother again to try to take your comments seriously since it always leads only to this sort of thing.
Nancy

>>> Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>09/10/11 6:40 PM >>>
Sounds familiar.

From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, September 10, 2011 2:39 PM
Subject: Re: 'The Waste Land' - a recitation (was Re: vis-a-vis 'Four Quartets')

Who is "one"?  If "one" is biased, "one" will see the "genuine" as the biased (if there is a single "genuine").
 
For example, I once had dinner at a table with and rode in a car with Cleanth Brooks to a performance of Murder in the Cathedral.  He said of deconstruction critics, "if these people are right, I have wasted my life." I think he was quite wrong and told him they were also doing close reading, as he had, but that is not the point.  The point is that he was deeply certain of a way of reading that, he felt, had to be the right way or all understanding was lost.  "One" might call that bias. In fact, he certainly created a framework for a way to read the poem that many found satisfactory---and many did not. I think at the time it was extremely persuasive and it remains valuable. But I do not tthink it can any longer be fully satisfactory or certainly any final statement--it takes too much for granted about the notes and simply does not take into account what he could not, of course, have known--all those new sources of knowledge.
 
I do not see how you can find a place on which to stand that will give you such transcendent insight as to know the genuine from the biased in very diverse serious critics rather than, say, explicitly narrowly-based arguments insisting on a single truth. How your feelings are affected will not be a logical basis.
Nancy

>>> Chokh Raj 09/10/11 1:47 PM >>>
Well, I don't rule out the subjective element in my readings.
But one can certainly make out the genuine from the biased.
Nonetheless, I shall keep your words in mind. 
 
Thanks,
 CR

From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, September 10, 2011 1:32 PM
Subject: Re: 'The Waste Land' - a recitation (was Re: vis-a-vis 'Four Quartets')

I think the problem you may have in being "satisfied" is that you respond to texts on a personal level by its fit with what you feel already.  I am not criticizing; I am stating what you yourself say regularly.  So to be satisfied, any reader has to dissociate from a desired conclusion and decide on the argument itself.
Best,
Nancy

>>> Chokh Raj 09/10/11 1:29 PM >>>
I have placed an order with my library for two books by Lawrence Rainey:
 
Revisiting "The Waste Land"
and
The Annotated Waste Land with Eliot's Contemporary Prose.
 
Well, I remember having read both of them a long while back -- and my impression at the time was that, for all their  intelligent labor, these had failed to satisfy me on many counts. All the same, I look forward to reading them again to make sure I have not missed out on anything. I especially go back to these volumes in the hope of finding some satisfying elucidation of the closing lines of TWL.
 
I shall get back with my findings.
 
Regards,
 CR

From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, September 10, 2011 12:29 PM
Subject: Re: 'The Waste Land' - a recitation (was Re: vis-a-vis 'Four Quartets')

Thank you very much, Nancy.
Much obliged.
CR
 

From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, September 10, 2011 12:12 PM
Subject: Re: 'The Waste Land' - a recitation (was Re: vis-a-vis 'Four Quartets')

Try Lawrence Rainey'sRevisiting The Waste Land. It ends on with a commentary on Brooks.  But of course his point--like the one I've been trying to make--is that there are far too many changed ways of reading to give one alternative.  That makes him helpful to you if you really want to revisit.
Nancy

>>> Chokh Raj 09/10/11 11:58 AM >>>
All this does not elucidate the lines in question in any manner whatsoever --
let alone whether Weston and 'Notes' hold good or not.
I'm looking for an alternative reading that improves upon Brooks.
 
CR
 

From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, September 10, 2011 11:38 AM
Subject: Re: 'The Waste Land' - a recitation (was Re: vis-a-vis 'Four Quartets')

The point is that there are many "lines," not one.  The poem ends with a series of "lines" that are not simply pessimistic but apocalyptic.  Then it adds on one "line" as a "formal ending" that, according to Kearns, leaves off "Om," which does seem to raise a significant question.
 
Part of "what we know" is that the reading by Brooks assumes that the Weston story is a "scaffold" on which the poem is placed and that therefore we see a pattern throughout of two kinds of life and two kinds of death revealed by the Weston story.  But Weston's "pattern" only appears, if at all, in section V; Eliot later repudiated the notes and the fact that he sent a generation off on a wild goose chase after all those allusions.  He also said it was just his own "relief of a personal and wholly insignificant grouse against life"; we now know far more about his marriage and the profound impact on him of the War as well as the implications of what was then defined as "neurasthenia" (his diagnosis in 1921); we know that the poem was not (and this is a fact) written as a unified work but was carved out of a mass of many parts written over several years--a few bits as early as 1913, and that the organization of those parts was deeply indebted to Pound.  All of this is post-Brooks, whose famous article came out in 1937.
 
This is just a slight list from memory, but if it is not enlightening to you, I suggest you read a great deal of later critical work other than what reinforces very early readings. And that includes Eliot's own later views.
 
And a more important point is that the poem is not an artifact that only a few can see truly and that is not open to any alternative reading, despite the fact that from its publication it has evoked contrasting and conflicting readings.  Just go through the early reviews in the collection edited by Jewel Brooker to see the broad range from the beginning.
Nancy

>>> Chokh Raj 09/10/11 10:53 AM >>>
Okay, let me be precise and to the point.
 
The point here is the closing lines of The Waste Land.
 
I'm curious to know how the much more that we now know modify/improve upon Brooks' reading of these lines.
 
I shall be obliged if anyone throws any light on the subject.
 
Regards,
 CR


From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, September 10, 2011 10:11 AM
Subject: Re: 'The Waste Land' - a recitation (was Re: vis-a-vis 'Four Quartets')

nil nisi divinum stabile est; caetera fumus
 
'The Waste Land' - it's a story of the human spirit.
 
As for "we know too much more than we did when Brooks wrote,"
 
"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?"
 
Cheers,
 CR


From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, September 10, 2011 9:49 AM
Subject: Re: 'The Waste Land' - a recitation (was Re: vis-a-vis 'Four Quartets')

What it evokes in you is not what it evokes in everyone. I suggest you read some views that are not reinforcements of what you already think, including Eliot's own later statements about the poem.
 
No text is entirely subjective for the reader or entirely an objective thing (a "verbal icon") made by the author: it involves a relationship, and not that of only one or a few.  As I said already, we know too much more than we did when Brooks wrote to take it as final.
Nancy

>>> Chokh Raj 09/09/11 11:40 PM >>>
What is "simply fact" is only a half truth.
 
The truth of poetry also lies in what it evokes.
 
"Those are pearls that were his eyes."
 
CR
 

From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Friday, September 9, 2011 11:00 PM
Subject: Re: 'The Waste Land' - a recitation (was Re: vis-a-vis 'Four Quartets')

I know Broooks's view. It is one of many. But my point is that none of this is simply fact; it is interpretation.
Nancy

>>> Chokh Raj 09/09/11 10:28 PM >>>
London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down
 
Poi s’ascose nel foco che gli affina
Quando fiam ceu chelidon—O swallow swallow
Le Prince d’Aquitaine à la tour abolie
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo’s mad againe.
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
 
Shantih shantih shantih
-----
 
While the civilization is crumbling, the poet has "saved" some fragments from his "ruins" from which he seeks light for a lasting peace.
 
Yes, this is only 'one' interpretation of the closing lines but, to me, the most valid so far.
 
I hold fast to Cleanth Brooks' interpretation of the closing llines (quoted above) and oppose it to yours which chooses to look only at the negative aspect of things -- "violence, chaos and murder" -- closing eyes to what positive might emerge out of them, so as to make what Yeats aptly called "a vineyard of the curse". 
 
Here's the relevant excerpt from Brooks: 
 
-----
 
The bundle of quotations with which the poem ends has a very definite relation to the general theme of the poem and to several of the major symbols used in the poem. Before Arnaut leaps back into the refining fire of Purgatory with joy he says: "I am Arnaut who weep and go singing; contrite I see my past folly, and joyful I see before me the day I hope for. Now I pray you by that virtue which guides you to the summit of the stair, at times be mindful of my pain." This theme is carried forward by the quotation from Pervigilium Veneris: "When shall I be like the swallow." The allusion is also connected with the Philomela symbol. (Eliot's note on the passage indicates this clearly.) The sister of Philomela was changed into a swallow as Philomela was changed into a nightingale. The protagonist is asking therefore when shall the spring, the time of love, return, but also when will he be reborn out of his sufferings, and--with the special meaning which the symbol takes on from the preceding Dante quotation and from the earlier contexts already discussed--he is asking what is asked at the end of one of the minor poems: "When will Time flow away."
The quotation from "El Desdichado," as Edmund Wilson has pointed out, indicates that the protagonist of the poem has been disinherited, robbed of his tradition. The ruined tower is perhaps also the Perilous Chapel, "only the wind's home," and it is also the whole tradition in decay. The protagonist resolves to claim his tradition and rehabilitate it.
The quotation from The Spanish Tragedy--"Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo's mad againe"--is perhaps the most puzzling of all these quotations. It means, I believe, this: The protagonist's acceptance of what is in reality the deepest truth will seem to the present world mere madness. ("And still she cried . . . 'Jug jug' to dirty ears.") Hieronymo in the play, like Hamlet, was "mad" for a purpose. The protagonist is conscious of the interpretation which will be placed on the words which follow--words which will seem to many apparently meaningless babble, but which contain the oldest and most permanent truth of the race:
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
Quotation of the whole context from which the line is taken confirms this interpretation. Hieronymo, asked to write a play for the court's entertainment, replies:
Why then, I'll fit you; say no more.
When I was young, I gave my mind
And plied myself to fruitless poetry;
Which though it profit the professor naught
Yet it is passing pleasing to the world.
He sees that the play will give him the opportunity he has been seeking to avenge his son's murder. Like Hieronymo, the protagonist in the poem has found his theme; what he is about to perform is not "fruitless."
After this repetition of what the thunder said comes the benediction:
Shantih Shantih Shantih
-----
 
 
CR
 
 
From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Friday, September 9, 2011 7:41 PM
Subject: Re: 'The Waste Land' - a recitation (was Re: vis-a-vis 'Four Quartets')

That is an (not "the") interpretation of "Shantih."  But the lines above that are about violence, chaos, and murder. Moreover, Cleo Kearnes has pointed out that the full ending of the Upanishad starts with "Om," and Eliot omits it (though we know he studied them). 
 
So you are free to interpret one line as shaping all the rest, but that interpretation is not "what the lines say": it is one reading of very mixed lines.
Nancy

>>> Chokh Raj 09/09/11 7:20 PM >>>
apropos TWL's ending
 
Peter Montgomery wrote: "They end it with a very positive tone, but then that's what the lines say."
 
A valuable observation, Peter. Thanks.
 
Regards,
 CR
 

From: Peter Montgommery <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Friday, September 9, 2011 2:07 AM
Subject: Re: vis-a-vis 'Four Quartets'

Interesting to see that presentation again.
They end it with a very positive tone, but then that's what the lines say.
I suppose one could render them in an ironic way, but that would seem rather forced.

P.

Quoting Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>:
>  
> THE WASTE LAND - read by Edward Fox, Eileen Atkins, and Michael Gough
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1TXBzw98ng
>