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Indeed - my former post was written in haste, perhaps too much !

David


On 11 August 2013 15:12, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> 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,
> Nancy
>
>
> >>> Peter Dillane **08/11/13 7:16 AM >>>
>
> Not sure we are disagreeing david
>
> Pete
>  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 grand
>>
>> *" 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,
>> Nancy
>>
>> >>> "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]>
>> wrote:
>>
>> >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 you
>> >have an argument for specifically why this is somehow "true," it is not
>> >really relevant to discussion. I rather doubt you would appreciate it if
>> >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
>> on
>> in footnotes all the time. Your previous post actually had something
>> similar:
>>
>> >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.
>>
>> Regards,
>> Rick Parker
>>
>>
>>
>
>