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 Cannon Street hotel.
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 hill of Cannon Street" with "flying feet."

Twit twit twit twit twit twit twit
Tereu tereu
So rudely forc'd.
Unreal City, (I have seen and see)
Under the brown fog of your winter noon
Mr. Eugenides, the Smyrna merchant
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 Strand, and up the ghastly hill of Cannon Street,
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 Cannon Street lines. Also note that, after the typist rape story, Cannon Street is now somehow "ghastly."

I think the poetic implication of all this is fairly clear, namely, Eugenides raped the narrator at the Cannon Street hotel. While this has been heavily diluted in the final TWL published version of the poem, enough is still there to draw out this implication.

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 --

Date: Mon, 26 Aug 2013 08:15:48 -0400
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: The Waste Land - a Tarot reading
To: [log in to unmask]


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 --

Date: Sun, 25 Aug 2013 17:47:44 -0400
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: The Waste Land - a Tarot reading
To: [log in to unmask]

It's recorded somewhere, possibly in the Facsimile, that this encounter is one that actually happened; some man did say something like this to Eliot according to the report, and I think it was Eliot who said it. I'm not at home, so I can't check. In any case, Eliot knew Russell extremely well (too well in some respects), and there is nothing in Mr. Eugenides like Russell, who was a Lord, not a merchant, had no base in Smyrna, and was not gay. And at that point Eliot knew about the Russell/Viv affair. So he would hardly make Russell into a man suggesting a night together.

There are, in fact, some parts of TWL for which Eliot's source is known because he told about them. For example, he actually met and talked with Marie Larisch.

>>> Tom Colket 08/25/13 5:35 PM >>>

I basically agree with you, both with your thought that Eliot turned people/events from his life into art, and with many of the specific images you identify in TWL.

The one I disagree with is your identification of Mr. Eugenides with Bertrand Russell. In TWL, Mr. Eugenides invites the narrator to lunch at the Cannon Street Hotel followed by a weekend at the Metropole. This is understood to be "code" for a homosexual proposition, Bertrand Russell was a lady's man who had numerous affairs, including one with Eliot's wife Vivienne. It's doubtful that Russell inspired the Mr. Eugenides character.

On the topic of Mr. Eugenides, a big question to answer in TWL is why he appears as one of only a handful of images specifically called out by Madame Sosostris as the narrator's fortune is being (accurately) told. This elevates him to an importance not accorded other figures in the poem who are left out of the told fortune. For example, consider the characters _not_ mentioned by Sosostris, such as Marie, Stetson, the Thames daughters, the young man carbuncular, etc. I believe it's important to understand why the Eugenides character is so prominent in the narrator's "fortune."

-- Tom --

Date: Sat, 24 Aug 2013 11:31:05 -0700
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: The Waste Land - a Tarot reading
To: [log in to unmask]

what TWL cards remind me of 

"Here is the man with three staves..." 

The poet -- "What might have been . . ."


"Here, said she, is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor."

The poet -- "What has been . . ."  


"Here is Belladonna, The Lady of the Rocks, The lady of situations."

Vivienne, the lady on the 'burnished throne' in A Game of Chess. 

Vis-a-vis her, the poet laments:
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

"And here is the one-eyed merchant..." 

Bertrand Russell, the atheist, who doled out help because it was business for him as usual. 

You who were with me in the ships at Mylae! 
That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,
Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!" 


"I do not find The Hanged Man."

He who was living is now dead  
We who were living are now dying  
With a little patience


"...and here The Wheel..."

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.