It's hardly news, as it is written about in books and articles
for--oh--maybe 40 years or more. 

>>> Chanan Mittal  04/23/14 1:01 PM >>>
Carrol wrote: "no reader will come close to understanding Eliot’s work
by ignoring the fear of women, especially of women who dare to think"

Eliot's fear of women who dare to think? - Wow! That's news!


On Wednesday, April 23, 2014, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
[Preceding post sent by accident.]

"The PRUFROCK line obviously refers to a certain class/type of women


This is ahistorical nonsense. Consider the final reference to Mrs.
Jellyby in Bleak House: One _could_ say that it referred to "certain
class/type of women only," but to advance that as a "defense" of Dickens
would not only be nonsense but in fact an insult to Dickens and a
profound misinterpretation of a very great novel. That passage is in
fact a terribly wrong attack on _all_ women, and to say otherwise is
illiterate and shows a failure to understand history even in a rough
way. Darwin was a racist: that does not affect the great significance of
his theoretical work: it merely recognizes a fact. Eliot was _also_
racist, 'sexist,' and (perhaps) aggressively misogynous. (The last
appears elsewhere than Prufrock; that is, I don't think Prufrock
exhibits misogyny but it does exhibit serious contempt for women who
pretend to be intellectuals. And the subject line for this thread _also_
is contemptible in and of itself; the subject of debate is Eliot's
poetry: or at least that should be the subject but whoever coined this
subject line let the cat out of the bag as it were: it was an attempt to
poison the wells of discourse by shifting from the subject (Eliot’s
poetry) to the character of the critic.

Bleak House is a great novel, Prufrock a fascinating poem: it is an
insult to both to ignore their grounding in gender attitudes specific to
their age. One honors a writer by attempting to understand his work: no
reader will come close to understanding Eliot’s work by ignoring the
fear of women, especially of women who dare to think, that winds through
his work.

The line from Prufrock (quite aside from Eliot’s personal problems with
women) echoes similar perspectives in James, Pound, Frost,  Yeats,
Faulkner, Ford, among many others. Women were to be Muses, not poets.
(To see this in its most naked from, look up a best seller of the 1940s,
Phillip Wylie, Generation of Vipers; also see an essay by two
psychoanalysts, one a woman, included in the Norton edition of
Wollstonecraft – I forget their names.)

I disagree with some of the points Kaveney  raises, but to focus on her
gender & quote Prufrock against her is simply contemptible.