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Nancy,

  As you said in an earlier post, any lister is free to agree or 
disagree with any other. I would only say that nothing in my message 
below is meant as ad hominem  --  it is meant as observation for 
consideration. In that vein, I stick by it, because I think it's accurate.

Ken A

On 11/8/2011 7:58 PM, Nancy Gish wrote:
>
>
> >>> Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]> 11/08/11 4:02 PM >>>
> On the other hand, the significant emotion of art was what Eliot was
> after, and some points could be raised in defense of his efforts.
> *That is not at stake. I was talking about something else. I think the 
> best work on  Eliot's emotion in art is by Charlie Altieri.*
> He was under no constriction to present emotions other than what he was
> interested in.
> *No one said he was.  The reviewer merely pointed out the limits of 
> his emotional range.  For a contrast, think Shakespeare.*
>  If his plays were not fully successful, there are other
> places to look besides to a deficiency in the poet's appreciation of
> human emotions, the claim of which is at best highly problematic anyhow.
> *That's a fine topic, a different one.*
>
> One large bit of territory to investigate might be what Katherine Anne
> Porter called "the failure of love in the Western world." For the poet
> or artist who perceives that overarching failure, religious ecstasy or
> despair may very well be the proper themes of his poetry/plays.
> *That topic has been explored since the first reviews.  Discussing 
> something else is not a failure to know about it or even agree.*
>  And not assenting to this may well reflect much more on the critic 
> than on the
> poet/playwright. Isn't this something that critics should keep in mind
> and be sensitive to, that there judgments may reveal more about them
> than about their alleged subject?
> *Ad hominem remarks (and ad feminem) are not arguments, just 
> name-calling.*
> Too, Eliot was trying to revive verse
> plays and wrote somewhere (don't remember whether it was about the plays
> or the poetry) about the advantage of having a form delivered developed
> into your poetic hands vs. the difficulties of trying to (re)establish a
> form.
> *Also well known: no one denied it.*
>  I think this is a more promising area in which to look for Eliot's
> difficulties than to his appreciation of human emotion.
> *By all means, look.  Let us know.*
> Accompanying this lack of appreciation in Eliot criticism for these 
> rather large
> factors, and possibly a part of it, is the strain of consumerism it
> exhibits, as if creating satisfactory verse or poetry were rather like
> turning on the hot and cold taps just right to get the most comfortable
> mixture for the bath water.
> *More ad hominem/feminem.*
>  While I suppose just about everyone would
> agree that that is not what creating art is about, I can't help
> wondering why then people persist in talking about it that way.
> *Perhaps careful reading of a great deal more contemporary criticism 
> would be illuminating. I don't find myself wondering.*
> **
> *What I do  not understand is why anyone on this list assumes either 
> that they are experts who can assert truth and others are somehow 
> utterly absurd, or that we cannot have a civil discussion without any 
> personal attacks or constant assertions of personal feeling that lead 
> nowhere.*
> Nancy
>
>
> Ken A
>
> Nancy Gish wrote:
> > That is not what I meant at all, that is not it at all. I wish this
> > discussion could have remained a discussion, but that seems impossible.
> > Nancy
> >
> > >>> Chokh Raj 11/08/11 7:18 AM >>>
> > The significant emotion of art.
> > CR
> >
> > *From:* Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
> > *To:* [log in to unmask]
> > *Sent:* Monday, November 7, 2011 1:55 PM
> > *Subject:* Re: Eliot's 4 English drawing room plays
> >
> > Dear John,
> > I agree with what you say, though as an actor ( English professor who
> > acts for fun in a Shakespeare ensemble), I think one could do a
> > fabulous and exciting performance of /Sweeney Agonistes/. I also saw a
> > brilliant performance of /Murder in the Cathedral/ in the Cathedral at
> > St. Andrews. It was performed all through and around the audience.
> > That seems to affirm what you say about the comedies: //he really had
> > not figured out that there are living humans with a much wider range
> > of emotion than religious ecstasy or despair.// But I wonder why,
> > then, you chose them. Do you think they could be directed and acted in
> > ways that would make them work now?
> > Nancy
> > P. S., of course he seemed much changed by human love when he finally
> > experienced it.
> > >>> John Angell Grant 11/07/11 1:31 PM >>>
> > Hi Nancy,
> > Thanks for the thought. I am a theater person myself, and have talked
> > with other theater folk about the issue. Draw is always an issue. My
> > sense is that Eliot's plays have a smug "I know the secret to life"
> > feel to them, which is alienating and, in my view, paradoxically
> > unchristian--a link to his Puritan heritage. Here's a 1950 review by
> > of the The Cocktail Party, by William Barrett from the Partisan
> > Review, which Jewel Brooker includes in her Contemporary Reviews book,
> > which nails some of it, in my view. Barrett is referring to the 2
> > choices of life offered in The Cocktail Party (2 choices represented
> > by the Chamberlaynes, and Celia):
> >
> > “Here we must remember that Eliot, the last great product of the
> > Puritan mind, has never shown in his poetry any real belief in the
> > possibility of human love. The moment of love is presented always as
> > the moment of withdrawal and renunciation, the awful daring of a
> > moment’s surrender, one of ?the things that other people have
> > desired’; and consequently the beauty of the world is never present
> > in the fullness of joy, but always with that painful clutch at the
> > heart as at something taken away, lost, uncapturable. No doubt,
> > resignation is necessary to get through life at all, and Freud himself
> > stated that the aim of analytic therapy was to enable the neurotic to
> > bear the sufferings inevitable in human life; but this is only half
> > the picture, for the work of the analyst may also be to liberate the
> > patient for the positive joys that life can hold, even perhaps for the
> > possibility of love, and if the neurotic were told that he is to be
> > resigned only for resignation’s sakes, it is very unlikely that he
> > would have the strength to go on.
> > “I was surprised to read that one critic found in the play the
> > gaiety that Stendhal recommends for all art, for it seems to me that
> > at bottom the world of The Cocktail Party is the same empty world of
> > Prufrock, except that 37 years ago Eliot did not disguise his contempt
> > for this emptiness. So I feel at the heart of this play some immense
> > tricherie [cheating], or at least self-deception, for I can’t
> > believe that Eliot takes the Chamberlaynes as serious as he pretends
> > to. Here again, comparison with Sweeney Agonistes becomes instructive,
> > for in this earlier fragment Eliot fully realized all his hatred of
> > human life and really enjoyed himself in the raucous company of Doris,
> > Sweeney, Klipsteins, and Krumpacker—in comparison with whose vulgar
> > vitality the characters at the cocktail party are genteel skeletons.
> > As a writer Eliot has never really given us God’s plenty: the
> > qualities of his genius are not robustness and richness, but
> > precision, terseness, and intensity; and the shadow which haunts these
> > qualities is a certain tendency to thinness and brittleness that here
> > in The Cocktail Party has at last caught up with him.
> >
> > On Mon, Nov 7, 2011 at 9:57 AM, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]
> > <mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
> >
> > Dear John,
> > I would think you could learn more about that from theater people
> > than TSE enthusiasts. You might want to ask some theater faculty
> > or directors.
> > My guess is that they are not only rather outdated for
> > contemporary audiences but are in verse. I imagine directors would
> > doubt that they would draw. That's only a guess based on what is
> > produced.
> > Best,
> > Nancy
> >
> > >>> John Angell Grant 11/07/11 12:48 PM >>>
> >
> > I'm writing a Master's Thesis on Eliot's 4 drawing room plays
> > (Family Reunion, Cocktail Party, Confidential Clerk, Elder
> > Statesman). Does anyone have thoughts about why they are rarely
> > performed these days. I set up Google Alerts for all 4 a few
> > months back, and only one production popped up, and that wa 6
> > rehearsed staged readings of The Cocktail Party by the
> > English-language theater in Abu Dhabi! Donmar did a series a few
> > years back. And there was an NYC production a year or so back.
> >
> >
> >
> >