David Boyd <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Revelatory piece recently published by the UK TS Eliot Society, by Graham Fletcher, who is the 59ish year old nephew of Mrs Valerie Eliot.I had never previously known of this person's existence, but the content is most interesting. Fletcher makes much of Eliot's own pronouncements concerning the extent to which poetry and the poet ought to reveal the personal feelings of the author. Eg, " Poetry .....is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality."(The Sacred Wood).
He goes on to describe his quite close childhood interactions with his aunt and eminent uncle, presenting Eliot as a kind, fun-loving and fair- minded individual, rather than the sterile, dour, antisemitic,or whatever the recent speculations primly accuse him of. He asserts that Eliot cultivated a public image of unapproachability in order to maintain his privacy and to separate his own personality from his work.
But at the same time, he argues strenuously that this doesn't matter a jot - "the personality of the reader is far more germane to the reading of Eliot's poetry than that of the author" he asserts.
All fascinating stuff, despite the fact that I'm not entirely sure he's not rather throwing out the bio with the bathwater.The UK Eliot Society are shortly to hold their two-day annual Eliot Festival at Little Gidding. I'd urge anyone in a position to go there to make a booking via their website - it's a truly worthwhile and deeply-pleasurable event, believe me - details of all this year's planned happenings on website too.