“Time for you and time for me, 

And time yet for a hundred indecisions, 

And for a hundred visions and revisions, 

Before the taking of a toast and tea.”



On Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 11:45 PM Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Many poets have dramatized a conversation between two selves of self but that is not a medical condition of hysteria. But yes, when you have a split personality, you are sometimes this person, sometimes that, that is a medical condition. For instance, Eliot’s first wife was found walking the streets in a guise other than her natural self, it was a case of dissociation, a form of hysteria. Who does not have a conversation with his/her own self? That is quite natural and human. 


On Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 11:25 PM Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Your reading of the poem, according to you, sees the "you and I" as "two selves." I do not know what you think "hysteria" means, but it is not popular images of crazed women or mad weeping.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, it was a serious medical diagnosis. And having two selves was one version (there were many, but this was one major one). So your focus on the poem as opening with "two selves" is quite specifically within the definition at the time.

This is simple history of medicine, not an impression of over-emotional behavior. Eliot's interest in this topic is frequent in his writing--consider at least the poem "Hysteria." And he had read a great deal about it.

On Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 10:44 PM, Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question ...
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

No, nothing hysterical about “you and I” here. 
My focus is on this poem only. 


On Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 10:00 PM Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
If you read clinical descriptions of hysteria--in psychiatric texts, for example as well as Janet--from that time, what you call "you and I" would be a form of hysteria. Eliot was very familiar with these definitions because he knew Janet and James.

Also, it appears in "Prufrock's Pervigilium."

On Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 8:54 PM, Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Whatever, there is no sign of hysteria in ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.’ 


On Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 1:39 PM Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Eliot said that himself in a 1962 interview: he said Prufrock was partly himself and partly someone older. But duality is all over Eliot's work. It was also a major psychological issue in the early 20th century, and the most important then (until about 1920) was Pierre Janet. Janet lectured on hysteria at Harvard the year Eliot arrived, and he and Morton Prince and William James were all part of a group who studied and discussed dissociation. At that time, duality/dissociation was clinically listed as a form of hysteria.

His "different take" is illustrated by an earlier claim, to Kristian Smidt, that it was spoken to a male friend. But Eliot often said different things at different times: he did not have any consistent "different take." 

My article in Cassandra's and my book, Gender, Desire, and Sexuality in T. S. Eliot (Cambridge, 2004) traces the psychology sources and the representations in the poetry--if anyone wants facts and sources. The note on the first page also lists many who have discussed duality in the poetry.

Sorry for the ad, but the book has been out for a long time and is cited a lot. So this topic is not simple or just impressionistic. Also, for anyone interested, it should be in many libraries.

On Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 1:17 PM, Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Incidentally, I’ve always subscribed to the “you and I” in the poem as two selves of Prufrock, the poem being Prufrock’s conversation with his own self. So have some critics. Despite Eliot’s different take on it. What do you think? Think. 


On Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 12:23 PM Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

“My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,

My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—“

Look at Eliot’s 1910 picture here:

Interesting pages.