I've posted about Eugenides a long time ago, so at the risk
of being repetitious:
I think the fuller story of Eugenides was told in earlier drafts of TWL (eventually published in the facsimile edition). For whatever reasons, Eliot removed a lot of the lines that alluded to this larger story (and the reasons for that revised text will be endlessly debated).
Below I have included the earlier draft of the Eugenides story in "The Fire Sermon" section. Note how the story follows this roadmap:
1) The story opens with lines alluding to Tereus, who committed rape in a story told in antiquity.
2) Introduces Eugenides and the
3) Continues with Eugenides making a sexual proposition to the narrator.
4) Continues with a "modern-day rape story" of the typist.
5) Ends with the narrator running away from the "ghastly
Twit twit twit twit twit twit twit
So rudely forc'd.
Under the brown fog of your winter noon
Mr. Eugenides, the
Unshaven, with a pocket full of currants
(C.i.f. London: documents at sight),
Who asked me, in demotic French,
To luncheon at the Cannon Street Hotel,
And perhaps a weekend at the Metropole.
Twit twit twit
Jug jug jug jug jug jug
O swallow swallow
. . .
Tiresias appears and sees the typist sexually assaulted by the young man carbuncular
. . .
When lovely woman stoops to folly and
She moves about her room again, alone,
She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
And puts a record on the gramophone.
'This music crept by me upon the waters'
And along the
Fading at last, behind my flying feet,
There where the tower was traced against the night
Of Michael Paternoster Royal, red and white.
Note how the Eugenides passage is framed (before and after) by the Tereus lines, and then note how the typist assault is framed by the
I think the poetic implication of all this is fairly clear, namely, Eugenides raped the narrator at the
This is why I think Eugenides gets included by Madame Sosostris in her list of major forces in the narrator's life. Belladonna is the wife that's making him miserable, Phlebas is the dead lover that he longs for, and the one-eyed merchant is his rapist. Each "major force" gets their own section of the poem to emphasize this importance. Belladonna gets section 2, Phlebas gets section 4, and the one-eyed merchant gets section 3. Section 5 is about coming to terms with all this misery by reconciling with God (the "hanged man" [Christ] who can't be found yet in the Sosostris fortune telling).
-- Tom --
I think you are referring to this TWL passage from Southam (not from the facsimile edition):
Southam: "A Guide to the Selected Poems of T. S. Eliot"
The events described here actually happened. John Peale Bishop reported: "Mr. Eugenides actually turned up at Lloyds with his pocket full of currants and asked Eliot to spend a weekend with him for no nice reasons. His place in the poem is, I believe, as a projection of Eliot, however. That is, all the men are in some way deprived of their life-giving, generative forces." Years later Eliot told an inquirer that while working in the City he had in fact received such an invitation from an unshaven man from Smyrna with currants in his pockets. The homosexual implications that some interpreters have read into these lines did not, said Eliot, occur to him.
If anyone believes that the homosexual implications of the Eugenides passage "did not occur" to Eliot, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I'd like to sell you.
-- Tom --
Between the idea And the reality Between the motion And the act Falls the Shadow For Thine is the Kingdom Between the conception And the creation Between the emotion And the response Falls the Shadow Life is very long Between the desire And the spasm Between the potency And the existence Between the essence And the descent Falls the Shadow For Thine is the Kingdom