It was a question you chose not to answer. So I am answering this
nonetheless. But unless you wish to explain the connection, I have
nothing to discuss.

>>> P 10/27/15 6:32 PM >>>
Then why are you doing it. If you genuinely saw no connection, why not
ignore my statement. Why ask if there was a connection? 

On 27 Oct 2015 3:17 pm, Nancy Gish wrote:

There is no reason to keep this up.

>>> P 10/27/15 6:12 PM >>>
Come now. Stock responses as a form of put down are not particularly

On 27 Oct 2015 2:43 pm, Nancy Gish wrote:

Is this intended to respond in some way to what I wrote? If so, how?

>>> P 10/27/15 4:43 PM >>>
Critical work may provide folks with more to talk about in a classroom
or at symposia, but not everyone does that. Art survives by its appeal
to general audiences, and not so much through its meaning as through its
effects. Some find meaning in those effects and some find satisfaction.
A poem is not an essay, nor is it resolved by deducing a meaning from
it. In fact the meaning rather than the poem becomes the object of
attention at that point, forcing the poem more & more into the
background. A different artifice is thereby produced, but not
necessarily a better one. Eliot's criticism survives while others come &
go, flashes in a pan.
On 27 Oct 2015 12:38 pm, Nancy Gish wrote:

It has nothing to do with a simplified view of "progress." It is
cumulative. Close reading is essential for initial understanding and for
doing anything further. But it is not total.

If Eliot relied on 19th century theories of literature, we might not
read the Metaphysicals--or Eliot. He made very clear that new art called
for new ways of thinking about it. And new knowledge of Eliot transforms
our understanding.

>>> P 10/27/15 1:21 PM >>>
I somehow get here an assumption that newer critical theory is better
than older critical theory, just because it is newer. With such a
assumption I can not agree. Time and quality do not ride the same horse.
Progress is an illusion. 
On 27 Oct 2015 9:29 am, Nancy Gish wrote:

I have been trying to think how one could answer this very personal,
rude, and astonishing direct address informing me by name what I need to
do and how I have failed.

So I have failed again. There is no way to answer it except in kind, and
that is not useful.

But the assumptions behind Ken's theory (it is a theory, not a fact or
set of facts) are simply no longer tenable. As a quick random sample,
read Jayme Stayer's work that CR posted. Or the fascinating sources in
Robert Crawford's bio or Nancy Hargrove's account of Eliot in Paris or
the connections in Däumer and Bagchee's collection of essays on
international Eliot or Anita Patterson's fascinating account of links to
Japan or Louis Rainey's dating of TWL fragments by paper and typewriter
or the many studies of Eliot and Dante or Eliot's own letters or the
writings of his colleagues and friends--read anything other than New
Critical rewrites if you are at all interested in poetry and its
importance. Read any major scholarship in the past several decades, and
you will not find this assumption that a poem, as published, is a thing
in itself with no connection to its author, culture, history,
composition, or anything at all except its meaning "to me"--which many
students imagine is anything at all.

I have no idea what Ken imagines I have been doing for half my life to
be utterly obtuse and incompetent about reading poetry.

>>> Ken Armstrong 10/25/15 10:20 AM >>>

You and I it appears think of "making" differently. In my way of
thinking about it, it is not possible for us to "know a great deal more
about it than Lewis did" -- because Lewis had the poem. We might learn
more about the background to its composition, but either the "making" is
accessible through the poem itself, ie it is a successful poem, or it
isn't. And the degree to which it is or isn't, or a comprehending
rendering of its registry as a poem, whI know what the usual objections to this are, and I know where they go
off track. But communicating that I'm not so good at, because really, to
understand what I'm trying to get at you 'd have to, as Eliot once said,
believe it first. Perhaps "see it first" or "experience it first" would
be less objectionable ways of putting it. The long and short of it is,
you have to work out not what the poem meant for Eliot -- he gave you
all you need to know when he published it -- but what it means for you,
Nancy Gish, for your existence as a human being, i.e. you have to
participate, really participate with your whole being, in the creative
act that is the making of the poem. It can't just be Eliot's life on the
line, it has to be yours, too. Always referring it back to Eliot only
guarantees that the creative act will never be availed to a reader, thus
the whole purpose of having the poem in the first place is defeated. 

As I said, I'm not particularly skilled at presenting this. I offered
the Lewis piece really just because Eliot in it is so un-Prufrock like,
I hoped it might be a wake-up call that shakes someone off that dead-end

Ken A

On 10/23/2015 12:49 PM, Nancy Gish wrote:

I am unable to see here what the "meaning" of the poem ostensibly is.
But if it is about the "making," we know a great deal more than Lewis
did (though the excerpt below says nothing about the "making" of
"Prufrock." In a fascinating seminar led by Cassandra Laity at the TSE
Society, a lot of new information appeared. In my own case, I was
focused on the writing of "Prufrock's Pervigilium," which was inserted
in the Notebook and then removed (See IMH). It offers a quite disturbing
and very different voice. But it is part of what was very much in the

What, for example, is presumed to be the meaning that provides an
absolute significance to "grow old" as literal?
Or did I miss something?

>>> Ken Armstrong 10/23/15 12:30 PM >>>
Some years ago, when my wife's father was stopped going the wrong way on
a one way street in this small town, the officer, well known to Red,
said, "Red, don't you know this is a one way street?" "But Rod," said
Red, "I'm only going one way."

Red, of course, knew he was making a joke with the law. Happily he was
let off with a warning. Carrol, on the other hand, wants us to believe
that a one way street really is a two way street. Well, okay, you pays
your money and you makes your choices. But what you choose doesn't
determine the nature of the street, only the approach you bring to it. 

I don't see any new questions or pressing observations in his post, and
all in all don't believe my certainty exceeds anything Carrol always has
on display. To the degree that "Prufrock" is a successful poem, it's
meaning inheres in its making, which, again, would have been what Pound
so enthusiastically pounced on.

Consider Wyndham Lewis' account of meeting TSE: 

" As I entered the room I discovered an agreeable stranger parked up one
of the sides of the triangle. He softly growled at me, as we shook
hands. American. A graceful neck, I noted, with what elsewhere I have
described as 'a Gioconda smile.' Though not feminine -- besides being
physically large his personality visibly moved within the male pale --
there were dimples in the warm dark skin; undoubtedly he used his eyes a
little like a Leonardo. He was a very attractive fellow then....I liked
him, though I may say not at all connecting him with texts Ezra had
shown me about some fictional character dreadfully troubled with old
age, in which the lines....'I am growing old....'.....I was unable to
make head or tail of.

Ezra now lay flung back in typical posture of aggressive ease...
However, he kept steadily beneath his quizzical but self-satisfied
observation his latest prize, or discovery -- the author of Prufrock.
The new collector's piece went on smiling and growling out melodiously
his apt and bright answers to promptings from the proud figure of his
exhausted captor."
stumbles in the same place Carrol does, but only partly for the same
reason: he can't make sense of the meaning of the "growing old" line for
Prufrock, whereas Carrol's attention is in another dimensionaaaaa,
trying to make it work for Eliot. The answer lies in how Prufrock's
actions and alarms make him what he is and bring him to an end meant to
be perceived as his fall, but moreover, in the first place, meant to be
perceived by the structure and technique and signs in the poem. I think
the telling phrase used to be "follow the lines of force."

Ken A 

PS I am impressed by Carrol's evident respect for "Prufrock." In a post
from him I stumbled upon by virtue of my email client deciding to open
to posts from 2009, he noted that in the long run Eliot would be largely
forgotten by future generations with only two poems, in a minor way,
meeting the test of time. No doubt "Prufrock" is one of them. I suppose
it is only a matter of time until this projection comes to pass, and we
will all be on the Marianne Moore list, discussing as per Carrol those
much richer and more powerful poems.