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Portrayals in Eliot, that is.

CR

On Sat, Nov 18, 2017 at 11:17 AM Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Prejudices or not, these are not implausible, IMHO.
>
> CR
>
> On Sat, Nov 18, 2017 at 9:21 AM Tom Gray <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> In saying that TSE's antisemitism and class prejudice were typical of his
>> time, I did not mean to minimize them.  Here in Canada, Pier 21 in Halifax
>> Nova Scotia was the centre for European immigration  in the first half of
>> the 20th century. A museum dedicated to this immigration has been set up
>> there. Associated with the museum is a memorial with inscription reading
>> "None is too many". This was the reply of a Canadian civil servant when
>> asked what the acceptable level of Jewish immigration to Canada was. This
>> was supported by the prime minister of the time and was official government
>> policy.  Nice inoffensive polite typical Canadians held despicable
>> prejudices. Typical antisemitism of that time was a very ugly thing and was
>> something that nice respectable educated people professed.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Two rapes are presented in “The Waste Land” – that of the typist and that
>> of Philomel. The social contexts and implications of these rapes are
>> strikingly different and to my mind betray a pernicious class prejudice.
>> Philomel’s rape is presented in “A Game of Chess” in a privileged and
>> educated context. It is presented as part of a long classical tradition in
>> a painting in a rich opulent room. Her rape is presented as a horror that
>> brings on savage revenge and the intervention of the gods. She is
>> transformed to the nightingale
>>
>>
>>
>> The typist's rape in “The Fire Sermon is of quite another sort. It is a
>> rape that is not resisted and only slightly understood
>>
>>
>>
>> She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
>>
>> Hardly aware of her departed lover;
>>
>> Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
>>
>> “Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over.”
>>
>> When lovely woman stoops to folly and
>>
>> Paces about her room again, alone,
>>
>> She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
>>
>> And puts a record on the gramophone.
>>
>>
>>
>> Rapes are presented as differing with social class. The rape of the
>> Philomel in the wealthy educated context is a horror. The rape of the
>> typist in the working-class environment is not. The class prejudice shown
>> with the typist and the young man carbuncular manifests itself in a
>> portrayal of these people having little self-awareness and no sense of
>> reality beyond the immediate. The same class prejudice can be seen in “A
>> Game of Chess”. The wealthy characters are shown immersed within a
>> classical tradition full of allusion. The working-class are presented as
>> the typist and her rapist as living only in the eternal immediate. I find
>> it interesting to read “A Waste Land” and interpreting it it based on this
>> subliminal prejudice which influenced it. The same contrast between
>> tradition and the eternal immediate based on class can be seen in "A game
>> of Chess" between the wealthy educated characters and the pub scene
>>
>>
>>
>> This class prejudice was typical of the educated elite of the day and not
>> restricted to Eliot. Bill Bryson’s book “At Home:  A Short History of
>> Private Life”,  contains quotations illustrating it. Edna Saint Vincent
>> Millay wrote: ‘The only people I really hate are servants. They are not
>> really human beings at all”. Virginia Woolf comes quite close to capturing
>> Eliot’s portrayal in describing one servant as: “She is in a state of
>> nature untrained and uneducated … so that one sees a mind wiggling
>> undressed.” Eliot's class prejudice was typical. It is reflected in the
>> "the Waste Land" and hinders a valid portrayal of working-class life. In
>> that, it makes "The Waste Land", the less.
>>
>> On Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 12:47 PM, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
>> wrote:
>>
>>> Dear Tom,
>>>
>>> Well, depending on what you mean by "typical," probably yes. But many
>>> artists and intellectuals *did not* hold anti-Semitic views or
>>> attitudes. The issue is not that some did but that it was clearly
>>> repudiated morally also.
>>>
>>> In the US before the Civil War, it was "typical" of many ('serious")
>>> people--including many religious leaders and their churches--to support
>>> slavery. It was the abolitionists who were not "typical." So are we now to
>>> say it was really quite ok to believe a god made African people inferior
>>> and suited to slavery because that had been inculcated as a "typical"
>>> belief?
>>>
>>> And does the suffering of those who were treated as inferior or
>>> disgusting or even illegal mean those who did not think through the wrong
>>> they perpetuated were to be given a pass.
>>>
>>> Was it, for example, an excuse for the fact that after largely saving
>>> Britain in WWII with the Enigma machine Alan Turing was driven to his death
>>> because homophobia was "typical"? Or that Oscar Wilde was destroyed by that
>>> "typical" belief, even if he made a really great mistake in going to court.
>>>
>>> Eliot had not the excuse of lacking knowledge, intelligence, or cultural
>>> experience. And given the constant insistence that he had Jewish friends
>>> and colleagues, he had every reason to know better regardless of common,
>>> "typical" attitudes.
>>>
>>> As for class prejudice, was that ever excusable either? Is it now?
>>> Consider the brilliant exposés of its effect in Dickens even. And whatever
>>> Woolf may have also said or supported, it is Septimus, I think, who gets
>>> our sympathy even more than Mrs. Dalloway. And WWI literature is full of
>>> the recognition that it meant nothing in the trenches, and making ignorant,
>>> unprepared young elite men officers did not necessarily work out.
>>>
>>> My point is that Eliot had all this context, as did others of his circle
>>> and class.
>>> Best,
>>> Nancy
>>>
>>> On Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 12:20 PM, Tom Gray <[log in to unmask]>
>>> wrote:
>>>
>>>>  TSE's description of the typist and the young man carbuncular displays
>>>> an extreme class prejudice bordering on contempt. Wouldn't this be typical
>>>> of the attitudes of upper class English society in the early part of the
>>>> 20th century just as his antisemitism is?
>>>>
>>>> On Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 11:17 AM, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>> As one who agrees that Eliot's writing has anti-Semitic material (one
>>>>> only need read it), I think the way this is written is a problem. He says
>>>>> "T. S. Eliot out and out hated Jews." I have not seen evidence of such a
>>>>> total claim. It also makes the statement easy to reject.
>>>>>
>>>>> That is not, by the way, what Anthony Julius ever claimed either: he
>>>>> claimed that Eliot's writing included anti-Semitic material (which it does)
>>>>> and that it treated that as normal (which can be the effect). I wondered at
>>>>> the time how many of those who got outraged actually read the whole
>>>>> book--which I did.The response is always the same to any claim of bigotry:
>>>>> "He had Jewish friends and he supported Jewish writers.) That is also the
>>>>> case but not the point. It's the "a lot of my best friends are Black" and
>>>>> "I love women" and "I don't care who is gay but they shouldn't talk about
>>>>> it" response.
>>>>>
>>>>> I think most readers who love literature agree that horrible people
>>>>> wrote some of the best work. But one can separate a judgment of the work
>>>>> and a judgment of the artist and accept both.
>>>>> I think, for example, that some of Eliot's most disturbing images are
>>>>> so powerful because he knew what he was writing about in his own feelings.
>>>>>
>>>>> Nancy
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> On Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 9:35 AM, [log in to unmask] <
>>>>> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>>> I know the author.  I'm not positive it is worth asking the basis for
>>>>>> his short statement about Eliot.  Print and internet media are filled with
>>>>>> unsupported broad and often incoherent declarations.  Witness Lord Donald's
>>>>>> tweets.  I think this NYT entry is just identifying an issue, in a casual
>>>>>> style that may be more accessible to readers.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> More importantly, we have a new dog:  Perceval.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Cheers...
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>>>>>
>>>>>> On Nov 15, 2017, at 4:51 AM, Tom Gray <
>>>>>> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Opinion | He’s a Creep, but Wow, What an Artist!
>>>>>> <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/14/opinion/artists-assault-fans.html?ribbon-ad-idx=13&rref=opinion&module=Ribbon&version=context&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&pgtype=article>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Opinion | He’s a Creep, but Wow, What an Artist!
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Clyde Haberman
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Can we appreciate art even if it was created by someone who behaved
>>>>>> deplorably, like Kevin Spacey or Dustin Hoff...
>>>>>>
>>>>>> <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/14/opinion/artists-assault-fans.html?ribbon-ad-idx=13&rref=opinion&module=Ribbon&version=context&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&pgtype=article>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> An opinion article from the New York Times that discusses the issue
>>>>>> of how the artistic or intellectual work of people who violate ethical
>>>>>> norms should be addressed. It derives from the recent sexual harassment
>>>>>> revelations and puts them in some sort of historical context.  TSE's
>>>>>> antisemitism is noted
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>