Print

Print


Just a clarification, if you like.

That remark about going overboard was only made vis-a-vis "editor's art."

Thanks,
CR

On Tuesday, October 27, 2015, Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Thanks for your most precious inputs, Tim.
> In appreciating good work one tends to go overboard, I suppose.
> I thought it was an Indian habit :))
>
> Regards,
> CR
>
> On Monday, October 26, 2015, P <[log in to unmask]
> <javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml',[log in to unmask]);>> wrote:
>
>> Thanks for clarifying the boo-boo missive Tim.  Don't you just hate it
>> when you do that!
>> Your comments on the notes are real eye-openers. The editor's art leaves
>> much to be desired.
>> P.
>> On 26 Oct 2015 10:34 am, "Materer, Timothy J." <[log in to unmask]>
>> wrote:
>>
>> First, I apologize for sending a personal email to the entire list about
>> better communication between the two Eliot listservs.
>>
>> I finally read the Seamus Perry review, which includes comments on V. 5
>> of the Letters, and would like to vent a little. I’m really tired of
>> reading comments such as: "The publication of The Letters is an
>> unfolding masterpiece of the editor’s art.”
>>
>> All reviewers praise the editing without giving any specific reasons for
>> doing so. They comment only on the letters themselves. It is fair to praise
>> the editors for giving us so many letters and for the information in some
>> of the notes. Let’s also believe on faith, as I do, that the texts are
>> accurate.
>>
>>
>> However, below, I want to give some of my evidence that the notes are
>> often  inadequate. These are pasted-in excerpts from my reviews of the
>> volumes in Time Present (U.S. TSE Society).
>>
>> Review of Vol. 4
>>
>>  The length of this volume, and of the previous three, might not be a
>> distraction if the notes were more relevant. In Volume 3, to cite an
>> egregious example, Eliot mentions in a letter to Ezra Pound that he has met
>> Derek Patmore. Note 2 to the letter quotes Patmore’s unpublished memoir in
>> which he expresses “a secret suspicion which I have always believed
>> irrelevant to the actual letter could hardly be imagined since Eliot merely
>> wrote: “Have seen the boy and quite like him”(123).
>>
>> In Volume 4 there are many such irrelevant editorial opinions; for
>> example, that John Crow Ransom was a
>>
>> “reputable poet in his early career” (104) and that G. B. Shaw was a
>> “philanderer and pro-feminist” (709). The most
>>
>> tendentious of the notes takes Geoffrey Hill to task because in 2001 he
>> “deplored” the epigram from Charles Maurras
>>
>> that Eliot used in his Dante, and then quotes Christopher  Ricks’s
>> refutation in 2003 of Hill’s opinion (582). Since
>>
>> Eliot’s letter to Maurras merely refers to the passage, nothing in the
>> letter is illuminated by controverting Hill.
>>
>> In some letters the lengthy footnotes apparently leave no room for more
>> important annotations. For example,
>>
>>  when Eliot discusses Granville Hicks’s Time and Tide article on literary
>> obscenity, the editors’ half-page footnote
>>
>> quotes a passage from Hicks’s article; but they do not annotate Eliot’s
>> references to Matthew Arnold’s Culture
>>
>> and Anarchy  and Aldous Huxley’s Antic Hay in the same letter (321–22).
>> Shorter footnotes elsewhere might have
>>
>>  provided room for annotations to explain the significance of “the
>> Lobster God” (30), “Sainte-Sulpicerie” (351),
>>
>> “red Ribbon” (499), “quarter day” (505, 506), and the  allusion to Ezra
>> Pound’s poem “Ancient Music” in Eliot’s
>>
>> dating of a December 1928 letter as “this last day of the Old Year
>> Goddam” (370). A reference to the “question
>>
>> of Reservation” (30) is not annotated, even though the practice of
>> “reserving” a consecrated host after a service
>>
>> for adoration in a church tabernacle was controversial. Eliot considered
>> Reservation so essential to devotional
>>
>> practices that he claims he would be forced to leave the Established
>> Church “if it came to an issue on the question” (30).
>>
>> The reference to “The Immaculate Conception,” which Eliot says he “cannot
>> swallow” (351), should also have been annotated. (Later Eliot accepted the
>> doctrine.)
>>
>>
>>
>> Review of Volume 3
>>
>>
>>
>> His brother and his brother’s new wife, Theresa, see the Dostoevskian
>> elements of Eliot’s marriage when Tom and Vivien join them for their
>> honeymoon trip to Rome in April 1926. At this time, Vivien is beginning to
>> suffer the breakdown that would lead to threats of suicide and treatment in
>> a French sanatorium.
>>
>>
>>
>>             The details surrounding this crisis—a moment of significant
>> biographical interest—are regrettably more obscured than elucidated by
>> editorial commentary. The first indication of this crisis appears in
>> Vivien’s letter to Ottoline Morrell from London on April 16, 1926: “I am in
>> great trouble, do not know what to do. In great fear” (145). The footnote
>> to the letter merely states, “See TSE’s letter to Osbert Sitwell, 13 Oct.
>> 1927.” Some six hundred pages later the reader finds a three-page footnote
>> that tells virtually nothing about Vivien’s letter to Morrell. Eliot’s
>> letter states that he was upset with Sitwell because Vivien had written to
>> him “over a year ago from Rome, and . . . you did not reply” (749). In
>> footnote three to Eliot’s letter, we learn from Sitwell’s unpublished
>> memoir (1950) that Vivien’s letters to him and his sister Edith “declared
>> that we should have inevitably heard of the scandal to which she was
>> referring, and in which she was involved. We should be aware, however, that
>> if she returned to Tom, it would inevitably bring disgrace upon him. . . .”
>> (749). The Sitwells had heard of no scandal. The footnotes do not explain
>> from where or whom Vivien might return to Tom. The only context for this
>> incident appears in the Biographical Commentary:
>>
>>
>>
>> At some point during this period, Vivien writes to Osbert Sitwell, and
>> separately to Edith Sitwell, saying that she has been involved in some sort
>> of scandal and asking for their imperative help. The “scandal” presumably
>> refers to her attempted suicide in Paris: there is no evidence that she
>> became involved in any other form of scandal. (xvii)
>>
>>
>>
>>             If the scandal concerned this suicide attempt, why is Vivien
>> writing to Sitwell from Rome rather than from Paris? The footnote to her
>> April 16 letter connects the two letters to Morrell and Sitwell with the
>> attempted suicide in Paris. However, the dates of the letters show that
>> there is no connection. Footnote three quotes Sitwell’s reply to Eliot that
>> he received Vivien’s letter on “the first day of the General Strike.” The
>> note does not explain that England’s General Strike of 1926 began on May
>> 3—more than two weeks after Vivien’s letter to Morrell. The commentary
>> claims that Vivien wrote to Sitwell at “some point during this period,”
>> which is the period in May just before Vivien entered the sanatorium; this
>> is highly misleading because of the April date of the letter to Morrell.
>>
>>
>>
>>             The editors might have given supporting evidence that there
>> was no other “form of scandal” in the spring of 1926. Their statement
>> contradicts Carole Seymour-Jones’s claim in *Painted Shadow* (441–43)
>> that Vivien was infatuated with another man and while in Rome was planning
>> to leave her husband. Seymour-Jones’s information is suspect because she
>> gives the name of the man (basing her identification on a secondhand
>> reference to Morrell’s diary) incorrectly as Haden Guest rather than
>> Stephen Haden-Guest, and she incorrectly claims that Vivien’s April 16
>> letter was sent from Rome. However, Vivien’s infatuation is also referred
>> to in *The Selected Letters of Bertrand Russell *(ed. Nicholas Griffin).
>> Russell wrote on March 20, 1926 that Eliot was “sending express letter
>> about Guest’s sins.” The note to the letter reads, “Vivien Eliot had become
>> infatuated either with Dr Leslie Haden-Guest . . . or with his son,
>> Stephen” (Russell 1, 254). Writing to his brother from Rome at the time of
>> this crisis (May 12, 1926), Eliot says that he is leaving for Germany (“*do
>> not mention that we are going to Germany*,” 151); but the sketchy
>> footnotes to the letter require the reader to depend upon the commentary to
>> learn of the trip “from Rome to Freiberg in Germany—to consult with Dr Karl
>> Martin” (xvii). The footnotes, generally so comprehensive, might have
>> clarified the “scandal” that occurred in Rome and apparently motivated the
>> trip to Freiberg. Instead, the reader is sent into an editorial maze.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>