My guess is that Verdenal's death was a major part of the impact of the
War on Eliot. It may even have been at least part of what drove him into
that sudden marriage with Vivien not long after (that is clearly
speculation). But the breakdown was clearly a kind of PTSD. At the time
it was called hysteria, when women showed such symptoms, and
neurasthenia when men did. But the recognition of the source in trauma
was a significant result of the masses of men who came back from the
Front with all the symptoms of "hysteria." They changed the name to
"shell shock" in the belief that there had to be a physical basis. If
you read Vittoz's book (not very good but revealing), you see that he
treated what was then seen as neurasthenia, which was Eliot's diagnosis.
I agree that Eliot's own life had become increasingly traumatic from
many sources.

In any case, in response to Peter--I think you and David are onto
similar lines, and I'm especially interested in the connection about the
absence of very massive discussion of the War. But it is, in fact, there
very often if not at length. That may be because it was the kind of
internal despair Eliot masked, or it could well be because of censorship
during the War. Very little could be written about it. But I think
Eliot's admiration for John Maynard Keynes's The Economic Consequences
of the War and his years working on payments and reparations after the
armistice also could not have been other than very difficult. And all
that would have been government secrets.

So there are several key points where I think the War is "palpable" (I
don't mean there are not many others): 1. the letter he wrote to his
mother about having to get out of Germany when it started and the
unusual emotion he expresses there about seeing a woman wave to a German
soldier leaving on a troop train. He says she must know she will never
see him again. 2. the many passages about how hard it is living during
the War and the lack of understanding (interestingly, soldiers also
frequently said how no one at home could understand). Much of this is
implicit in his constant talk of taking Viv out to the country and
having to take the train and having no time and always being ill. This
is in part, of course, Viv's illnesses, but also London was not safe and
was being bombed even in that war. Food and medicine were hard to get.
So his difficulties and money worries are linked to it as well as to
Viv's condition. 3. the work at the end and the recommendation to his
mother that she read Keynes--and his admiration for Hesse. 

In the poem it is surprising if one notes the parallels in his life. It
starts in Munich with Marie, who is linked to the Archduke Ferdinand
(not the same one but an intensely strong word). It then has a pub scene
about being demobbed and the impact on Lil. Section III originally had a
long passage of allusion to Dido and Aeneas, and Tiresias is connected
to the wars in Sophocles as well as being both sexes. One can see links
between section IV and Verdenal. And Hesse turns up in V. 

So your points about absences and privileged silences, and about
Verdenal seem to me important to follow up.
Thanks for all that,

>>> Peter Dillane 08/11/13 7:16 AM >>>
Not sure we are disagreeing david 
On 11/08/2013, at 8:11 PM, David Boyd wrote:

I have to disagree about the impact of Verdenal's death and indirectly
of the First War: can't recall exactly which Eliot / Verdenal letters we
were studying just recently under some expert guidance in a seminar, but
the closeness of that relationship was obviously immense and was
palpable. On occasions, the two individuals merged into one, and one had
to consult the headers or the footers to distinguish who was the writer
and whom the recipient. 

It must have been an almost-inconceivable-to-we-onlookers personal shock
to Eliot that Verdenal got slaughtered in the Dardanelles: recall we
discussed the 'death by water' etc bits of TWL that fairly-obviously
refer to this (those attempted landings were ptimarily mass-drownings
before the invaders ever reached the shore).

On reflection, might not Eliot's Margate etc breakdown have been rooted
in his Verdenal trauma, compounded by his further ones with Valerie? -
post-traumatic stress disorder and all that? 

On 11 August 2013 10:16, Peter Dillane <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi Nancy, 
I am inclined to believe it is important but I find it difficult to see
the impact in his letters. Do you think this diminished presence
paradoxically might signify its importance. Why does he say so little?
For example what mention is there of Jean Verdenal's death which I would
have thought was a major war event for him ? The joshing Bolo letter to
Conrad Aiken of 10 January 1916 is it as far as I can see which says:
sorry I've been busy, my wife's sick, jean Verdenal died, Martin
Armstrong is missing, my publisher may be conscripted and "* we are very
blue about the war, that living is going up, and that King Bolo's big
black*etc". What is this - whistling in the dark? Or does it suggest
that these matters are given a privileged silence. But I also observe
that his letter to his mother of 22 December 1917 discussed his brother
in law George's enlisting in very unsentimental and calculating terms "I
can't see what good it will do him*no one will give him work for being
patriotic. Five years from now everyone will have forgotten whether he
was in France or not...the motive seems a very trifling one". 

For my part I don't see the "personal and wholly insignificant grouse"
line as anything more than faux modesty or wry provocative talk. Taken
as a whole as it is a contra to the first proposition which is pretty

" Various critics have done me the honour to interpret the poem in terms
of criticism of the contemporary world, have considered it , indeed, as
an important bit of social criticism. To me it was only the relief of a
personal and wholly insignificant grouse against life; it is just a
piece of rhythmical grumbling." 

Oh yeah sure it is. 

The more amusing thing is that it is planted at the start of the
facsimile edition after all the historical introduction and apparatus
detail. It reminds me of an observation often made in my country about
football that people seem to act as if it was about life and death but
in fact it is more important than that.

Cheers Pete

On 11/08/2013, at 1:10 PM, Nancy Gish wrote:

Dear Rick,

I agree that a link or citation is not only valid but useful--if it is
part of a discussion. I do not think a constant stream of one person's
interests with no context is the same as what I wrote. 

I raised this topic because I think it both important and, though
discussed in a few key books and articles, not discussed in the depth of
other topics. So it seems, with the centenary of WWI next year, a
potentially rich idea to consider anew. I am interested in the reactions
of others.
Best wishes,

>>> "Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]> 08/10/13 8:26 PM >>> 
On Sat, 10 Aug 2013 11:29:35 -0400, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>

>This sending of articles one agrees with as if they were somehow proof 
>of an opinion is pointless because the history of Eliot studies is far 
>too extensive and controversial. There are many readings, and unless
>have an argument for specifically why this is somehow "true," it is not

>really relevant to discussion. I rather doubt you would appreciate it
>I sent citations and quotations and statements from my own books and 
>articles and those of others I find compelling. 

Nancy, I don't think this is really fair. It's the same thing that goes
in footnotes all the time. Your previous post actually had something

>One would think, from some of the responses to this topic, that it 
>was some radically unconventional topic thought up by me. I wish I 
>could take credit, but as it happens Paul Fussell in The Great War 
>and Modern Memory showed how frequently it appears in the allusions, 
>and Vincent Sherry, in The Great War and the Languages of Modernism 
>included a long section on Eliot and the War. 

For a discussion list I think a either a link or a citation is valid.
Its a 
way of saying that here is something similar to what I think but I'm
sorry I 
don't have time to write a dozen or so pages about it in an email. 

Rick Parker