Recall discussing offlist with Pat begore she left us the connotations of the name Bleistein - literally 'lead ore' or similar in German ?

On 4 October 2011 07:03, Peter Dillane <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Hi Carrol,

ok leaving aside that equitone is closer to pig latin than a challenging anagram and I wonder if Eliot talked that parle ( Americans on the list will have to enlighten me whether that seems likely ) more to the point. If we say hidden meanings are irrelevant  to the readingness what do you think about Ricks' extended analysis of the name Mrs Equitone in terms of tone as it reflects national identity, foreignness and so on. Is that similarly not helpful? and for the same reasons?

Cheers Pete

----- Original Message ----- From: "Carrol Cox" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 4:09 PM

Subject: Re: Patricia Sloane's Bleistein book (was Re: Patricia Sloane's Key to 'The Waste Land')

Finding anagrams sounds as off the wall as numerological studies of Milton. I was never much of an admirer of Douglas Bush, but he had a great title for a review of one of those books: "Calculus Wracked Him." Since for three years a was a cryptanalyst for NSA, I picked up some rigorous criteria for accepting any decipherment. The main one is tht there must be a c  control . You demonstrate in just a few sentences that there is no possible control for any finding of "hidden meanings" in anarams in Eliot. The problem with all dicoveries of "hidden meanings in any work is  their irrelevancy to reading the work. There's a person on the Austen list who has, apparently,written a book showing that each of Austen's novels  is really a private code telling a completely different story from the "visible" story. Dull. Dull. Dull. In the same category are those conspiracy theories that see 9/11 as being a secret plot by Bush or the CIA or Little  Orphan Annie. And the plot always grows bigger and bigger. Now it has to include Obama & Clinton, since they must have foundout about it but are keeping the secret for dark and hidden reasons. Wonderful!


On 10/3/2011 1:38 PM, Tom Colket wrote:

I got Pat's book and read it when it first came out in 2001.

I am very reluctant to say much about the book for three main reasons:

   a) She is no longer here to defend her work.

   b) Because Pat passed away after publishing only one of three volumes, it seems unfair to criticize arguments that may have been more fully developed in the two volumes she did not live long enough to produce.

   c) Pat had a loyal following on the List, and I have no interest in starting a flame war.

That said, I will mention that, while I saw merit in individual items she talked about, I found her overall thesis unconvincing and not helpful in my Eliot studies. Her main thesis is that five of Eliot's early poems (and a later one) "form an organic sequence, and provide a comic or absurdist improvisation on Dante's Commedia". The poems that Pat identifies in this highly unexpected claim are 'Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar', 'Dirge', 'Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service', 'The Hippopotamus', 'The Hollow Men', and 'The Waste Land'. For more details, see "Table 1" below, taken from the preface to her book.

Her second thesis that I found unconvincing was her assertion the Eliot used anagrams to put hidden messages in the poems. For example, in her essay, "Notes and Observations on T. S. Eliot's Early Poems", she writes, concerning Mrs. Equitone from The Waste Land, that "The letters in her name, rearranged, spell 'quiet one' ". While that is factually true, I see no reason to assume that Eliot chose the name 'Equitone' to produce this anagram. You could also note that the name "Equitone" can be anagrammed into "Queen to I": Is that Eliot saying Mrs. Equitone is actually his wife Vivienne (his queen)?? And once you start looking at text as anagrams, there is no end to it. Listers back then noted that the letters in "The Waste Land" could be anagrammed into "The Lewd Satan", but this doesn't mean that the poem is actually about the devil.

Anyway, if there is any interest in discussion of her Burbank book, I will try to contribute.

-- Tom --

(From the preface to the first book)

This book is the first of three volumes that deal with T. S. Eliot's use of literary sources in the five early poems listed in Table 1 (page 3). My thesis is that the poems form an organic sequence, and provide a comic or absurdist improvisation on Dante's Commedia. A protagonist, who may finally prove to be the reader, makes two consecutive journeys through hell, purgatory, and heaven, Dante's three kingdoms of death.

Eliot's poems have long been characterized as formless but compelling collages made largely or entirely of quotations, adapted quotations, and paraphrases borrowed from the works of other authors. The absurdist or Dadaist "narrative" that we shall review in this and the following volumes has been overlooked primarily because Eliot constructs it largely from puns and witticisms that turn on details in his "source" works. Contrary to received wisdom, we may need to read the poems and their literary sources with equal care, not merely the sources cited in the notes to The Waste Land but the many more that over the years were either recognized by readers or pointed out by Eliot himself.
The net result of Eliot's idiosyncratic methodology is that each of the five poems is actually a double poem, a form we had not expected to find and which may never be imitated. We can continue to read the poems as we have always read them, feeling no particular compulsion to dip into the little library of great books that we know lies behind each of them. These fragment-poems charm, they suggest. They enchanted generations of readers, and brought to T.S. Eliot almost every literary honor any committee had the power to bestow. Here, we shall see the other side of the picture, the side that emerges if we give the necessary and sufficient weight to the source works, reading many or most in their entirety. Thus properly framed, the picture shifts and changes. Fragmented passages that previously seemed vaguely meaningful, suggestive, tragic, reform in an instant as something else entirely: a coherent, comic narrative that tells a familiar story.

This turn-around may not be as surprising as it seems. For a poet to consciously or unconsciously borrow a few words from another because the words "sound nice" is a fairly common occurrence. To make so slight a criterion the backbone of a style, however, might be witless, and Christopher Ricks wisely distinguishes between an allusion and a source ("An allusion predicates a source, but not vice versa"). An allusion "calls" (to mind) some aspect of the source work, which in turn becomes an integral part of the work from which it is being called. It need hardly be added that we are in no position to understand what, if anything, is being "called" from a source work if we have only a limited familiarity with that source work. I have no quarrel with the familiar insistence, encouraged by Eliot, that the notes to The Waste Land are a joke. The question is whether we make too many assumptions, and the wrong assumptions, on what the joke is supposed to be about, and on whom.

Table 1:
Vol 1: 'Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar' (Inferno)
Vol 1: 'Dirge' (Inferno)

Vol 2: 'Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service' (Purgatorio)
Vol 2: 'The Hippopotamus' (Paradiso)

Vol 3: 'The Hollow Men' (Purgatorio)
Vol 3: 'The Waste Land' (Inferno)

Table 1 lists the Cantica to which each of Eliot's five poems corresponds, and the volume in which each is reviewed. Note that the second "pilgrimage" (The Waste Land as Inferno, The Hollow Men as Purgatorio) has no Paradiso, an omission open to at least two understandings. Perhaps Eliot's second Paradiso is so exquisitely ephemeral that it does not exist, a farcical possibility less far-fetched than it may seem. Built into all five poems, but especially Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service, is insistent "philosophical" wit (or Harvard humor) about that over-debated dog of an abstruse question from undergraduate philosophy classes: whether nothing should be regarded as "something."
Although the nothing-something issue can be entertaining, I suggest we take the alternate route by looking more closely at Dante's Paradiso, especially cantos 20, 32, and 33. Although we all learned to read the Commedia as an allegory about Christians and pagans, I believe Eliot noticed it may read more coherently as an allegory about Christians, pagans, and Jews. If Eliot's elaborate improvisations implement a dominant purpose, it may be to encourage the reader to notice the same thing. Given that Eliot's readers by and large are not Dante scholars, this is a formidable authorial undertaking, addressed by a simple methodology. Eliot read the Temple Classics edition of the Commedia (which I have also used) and the annotation, by Wicksteed and Oelsner, is uneven. Many or most of our poet's borrowings are from passages in which the annotators miss the point, an effective way of singling out those very passages for the reader's further consideration. Eliot may have noticed th
e insufficiencies of the annotators, and made a game of playing with what they overlooked. It is a symmetrical but intricate game, and many of Eliot's borrowings are indirect. For example, Cleopatra, or her barge, are invoked in borrowings from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra that appear in both Burbank (11-12) and The Waste Land (77). One might not notice immediately that Cleopatra also appears in the Commedia. What is being allusively "called" is both the secondary work and the Commedia as a primary source.

Date: Sun, 2 Oct 2011 21:24:23 -0600
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Patricia Sloane's Bleistein book (was Re: Patricia Sloane's Key to 'The Waste Land')
To: [log in to unmask]


I did not mean to offend but could not sit still and let Dr. Sloane’s work be summarily dismissed.

BTW, in my reading of her book I found some of her positions to be convincing and others not so.  Again, I would encourage all to read the book.  If possible the reading should be done with Julius close at hand.

Rick Seddon
Portales, NM

From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Nancy Gish
Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2011 7:41 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Patricia Sloane's Bleistein book (was Re: Patricia Sloane's Key to 'The Waste Land')

I suggest that whatever I wrote was based in scholarly analysis and valid argument, and I have no reason whatever to "recuse" myself. Scholarly debate is not a legal structure, but it does depend on evidence and knowledge.  To suggest that I had any personal animosity toward a person I never met and had no opinion about personally whatever is outrageous. So, too, is the idea that my disagreements with her way of reading is in any way whatever outside appropriate debate. Neither I nor anyone on this list has any obligation to assent to, agree with, or even take seriously the claims of any other.  This is a list for discussion, and for me that means a basis in scholarship.

This is deeply offensive, Rick, and I'm sorry to see it from you.

Richard Seddon 10/02/11 9:34 PM>>>
Dear List

I have read Pat Sloane?s book and found it a refreshing exception to the morass of unthinking, unsubstantiated and undocumented use of the poems in worshipful adoration of Julius?s single minded crusade of showing TSE as the ultimate intellectual anti-Semitic.

Pat Sloane presented her ideas in an extremely well documented and well sourced book.  To read it and Julius?s book is to be struck immediately by the immense scholarly effort that Pat brought to her book.  Julius?s book does not fair well at all in the comparison.

I would suggest that a scholarly critique of Sloane?s book is badly needed and If that critique results in her book being dismissed so be it, but, to dismiss it without that critique is the anti-thesis of scholarship.

Until that critique is forthcoming I would encourage all members of this list to read the book and form their own opinions.

Nancy and Pat?s animus was a continuing soap opera on this list.  Having read through those blistering posts for several years I would suggest that Nancy recluse herself from offering expert opinion on Pat Sloane?s work.

Rick Seddon
Portales, NM

From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2011 6:11 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Patricia Sloane's Bleistein book (was Re: Patricia Sloane's Key to 'The Waste Land')

If Nancy is alluding to the review by William Logan in the NY Times, I would only add that it is both amusing and distressing to see so much attention now directed toward the poetry in the context of the life of the poet instead of his writings as a separation from the life.  I assume that a collection of letters would naturally veer towards the biographical but this new frenzied attention to the man instead of the works is somewhat offensive; though Logan, whose criticism of contemporary poetry is usually quite piercing and astute, does seem like less of a voyeur than other reviewers I have read.  Perhaps, in this celebrity-besotted age, one can expect no less of the Times or its readers.

Eugene Schlanger

-----Original Message-----
From: Nancy Gish<[log in to unmask]>
To: TSE<[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sun, Oct 2, 2011 1:54 pm
Subject: Re: Patricia Sloane's Bleistein book (was Re: Patricia Sloane's Key to 'The Waste Land')

I read Pat's posts and excerpts for years.  I did not feel the book would clarify anything. So I am seriously interested in whether there were any reviews by Eliot scholars--if anyone wants to check. Had I seen any in journals, I would probably have read them.

I agree with much of your previous post, but I think the confusion may well be a valid response to what--in all those posts and excerpts--was genuinely confusing--a morass of speculation.

Meanwhile, the NYTimes Book Review has another review today of the Letters. I am reading student essays, so it's sitting here.  But it is interesting that all of a sudden there are so many.  I have found Louis Menand's the most interesting so far.


Ken Armstrong<kennenathens@FRONTIER.COM>  10/02/11 1:24 PM>>>
Surely you read some when you read the book upon its publication? Any to

Nancy Gish wrote:
The "review" by Scheer is just his blog. Are there any reviews in
modernist or literary journals?

Chokh Raj 10/01/11 3:42 PM>>>
That's what the reviewer says. I've only made it into a heading.

I look forward to reading the book.