Tags: Geoffrey Hill, St. Louis, T.S. Eliot, First Unitarian Church, Schoenberg, Walker Sweeney, President Eliot, Presentations David Chinitz, Richard Seddon Patricia Sloane, Eliot Society, Patricia Sloane, Sweeney Agonistes, T. S. Eliot, Boston University, Joel Walker Sweeney, Louis Greetings Linda Wyman, Washington University Welcome Shyamal Bagchee, Greenleaf Eliot, Young Sweeney, T.S. Eliot Society, Sweeney Agonistes Eliot, S. Eliot
Number 44
Summer 2001
Published by the T.S. Eliot Society (incorporated in the State of Missouri as a literary non-profit organization), 5007 Waterman Blvd.· St. LouiS, MO 63108
ELECTION RESULTS Board of Directors The following society members have been elected to the Board of Directors for three-year terms: Christie Buttram Michael Coyle Melanie Fathman William Harmon Congratulations to these, and thanks to all who offered to serve the Society as members of the board. THE 2001 ANNUAL MEETING WORDS FROM THE PRESIDENT I first attended these gatherings when the Society was exactly half of its current age, in 1991 at the II ,h Annual Meeting. Since then, ofcourse, I have been drawn back to St. Louis-and to our one special Annual Meeting held in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1999-pretty much evety year. What attracted me most about a dozen years back, and continues to impress me to this day, is the nearly unique combination of rich experiences the Society makes available to its members: of warm fellowship, academic excellence, imaginative and often imptomptu cultural adventures, and an unmistakable impression ofT.S. Eliot's lasting relevance for our times. Here, I have been fortunate to form deep friendships, and profit from generous and invaluable scholarly camaraderie. And I know that myexperience is vety widely shared by others .who come to these meetings-ofren from distant parts of the globe. Close to its quarter-centuty of existence, it will perhaps not be inappropriate to speak of the Society's legacy as its "tradition"; through the many years the various officers of its Board have worked hard to create and nurture that tradition. It needs to be said that none of their actions would have succeeded without the affection, loyalty and wise counsel ofour members, indefatigable volunteers, caring benefactors, and the friendly and helpful citizens-in-
dividual and corporate-ofSt. Louis. Today, as I extend to you all my invitation to join us in the festivities in St. Louis during the last weekend of September, I am reminded of all previous Presidents of this Society who have said similar words of welcome in past years. The only doubtful distinction I can claim for myself as the new occupant of that position is that I will probably travel a greater distance to get to St. Louis than anY oEmy predecessors. Let me invite you warmly, then, to three days ofcongenial and collegial celebrations. Ai; always, the heart of our activities is the Memorial Lecture on Saturday morning; this year we are vety fortunate to be able to listen to Geoffrey Hill giving that special talk. Join us for the academic events, and also for the convivial ones. Please make sure to bring your favourite Eliot passage for Sunday's "Eliot Aloud Ale lowed" at the First Unitarian Church. Please reserve your hotel accommodation early, and send in your registration as soon as possible. I look forward to seeing you in St. Louis. Shyamal Bagchee GEOFFREY HILL TO GIVE 2001 MEMORIAL LECTURE The distinguished poet and critic Geoffrey Hill will be the Society's 22nd Memorial Lecturer. Regarded by many, including Harold Bloom and John Hollander, as the most powerful living English poet, Hill is the author ofsuch cel- ebrated books ofpoems as Mercian Hymns (1971), Tenebrae (1978) and more recently, Canaan (1997), The Triumph of Love (1998) and Speech! Speech! (2000). Hill's critical prose includes the following books: The Lords ofLimit (1984), and The Enemy' Country (1991). Geoffrey Hill is Univer- sity Professor and Professor of Religion and Literature at Boston University. MEETING REGISTRATION FORM IS ENCLOSED WITH THIS NEWSLETTER
Twenty-second Annual Meeting The T.S. Eliot Society St. Louis, MO September 28-30, 2001
Friday, Septembe~ 28 3:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m.
Board of Directors Meeting The Inn at The Park Registration Brown Lounge, Washington University William Charron, Treasurer Opening Session Brown Lounge, Washington University Welcome Shyamal Bagchee, President Presentations David Chinitz, Loyola University, Chicago "Mr. Eliot and the Cheese" Cerena Pondrom, University o/Wisconsin, Madison "Unexpected Synonyms: Eliot's The Waste Land and MarIanne Moore's Marriage" Yisrael Levin, Tel Aviv University "Revisiting Eliot and Swinburne"
Saturday, September 29 9:00 a.m.
Second Session St. Louis Womans Club Greetings BenjaminLockerd Jr., Vice-President Presentations Brad Bucknell, University 0/Alberta "Eliot in Visual Voices: Martin Rowson's Re-make of The Waste Land" Ronald Schuchard, Emory University "Did Eliot Know Hulme? Final Answer" Leon Surette, University o/Western Ontario "Eliot and Sidney Schiff: Account of a Friendship"
T.S. Eliot Society Newsletter
Summer 2001
11:00 a.m. 12:30 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m.
Twenty-second T.S. Eliot Mefllorial Lecture Geoffrey Hill, Boston University Lunch St. Louis Woman" Club (advance registrants only) (Afternoon free for exploring the many attractions in St. Louis) Cash Bar St. Louis Woman" Club Dinner St. Louis Woman" Club
Sunday, September 30 9:45 a.m. 10:30 a.m.
Third Session First Unitarian Churcb ofSt. Louis
Greetings Linda Wyman, Immediate Past President
Eliot Aloud Allowed ·.. and Encouraged! Readings by attendees
Presentations First Unitarian Church ofSt. Louis
Tom Day, University ofWarwick "Geoffrey Hill: Atonement, Betrayal and the Criticism of Four Quartets"
Leonore Gerstein, University ofMichigan
"The Hebrew Bible, Eliot, and Israeli Modernists: Comparing Allusive
Practices" -
Jenny Leden, St. Louis '''Wben thewind blows the water white and black': Enigma and Cosmologi- cal Imagery in Eliot and Bob Dylan"
Henry Laufenber/?, Cascadia Community College "Changes in Eliot s Mytho-poetics from The Waste Land to Four Quartets"
A long-time practice of the Societyis to hold the closing session of its annual meeting at First Unitarian Church, the congregation founded byWiIliam Greenleaf Eliot, the poet's grandfather. First Unitarian has generously given over its "Sunday Forum" hour to the Society for the presentation of papers. Persons making plans to attend the annual meeting are therefore strongly encouraged to stay through the conclusion of the meeting on Sunday, as the sessions at First Unitarian often prove to be highlights of the year's· ,. events. .
T. S. Eliot Society Newsletter
Summer 2001
SWEENEY AMONG THE BANJO-PLAYERS David Chinitz A young American Artist, determined to see what headway he and his banjo could make in the Old World, set sail for London. He opened there with the Sands Great American Circus Company on January 23, 1843. His act delighted the British, and within two years he had given a command performance for Queen Victoria and returned to the United States a wealthy man. His banjo had, if anything, an even greater success: it inspired numerous imitators, helped establish the minstrel show as a major genre ofpopular entertainment in Britain, and launched a banjo craze that lasted into the early twentieth century. This episode, in fact, constitutes the first occasion when U.S. popular culture produced an appreciable effect on the culture of Europe. The name of the American trailblazer was Sweeney. Joel Walker Sweeney (1813-60) has not endured in the annals of American culture as have Dan Emmett and T. "Daddy" Rice; he did not compose "Dixie" or invent Jim Crow. Still, Sweeney was an influential figure. The legend persisted for many years that Sweeney had given the banjo its fifth string-the "thumb string" that gave the instrument its distinctive rhythmic character. Although historians now discount this claim, the notion that Sweeney added the fourth or bass string to the original African-American form of the instrument is still considered viable, and his importance as the first popular virtuoso of the banjo is beyond question, not least because many ofthe key early minstrel performers learned their banjo technique directly from him. Yet Sweeney madehis greatest direct impact in Britain. Dan Emmett's Virginia Minstrels (whose principal banjoist, Billy Whitlock, had studied with Sweeney) landed in England shortly after Sweeney in the spring of 1843. The group's performances in Liverpool that May represented the first organized minstrel show in Europe. The company soon dissolved, only to regroup gradually around Sweeney, who was still in the midst of his British tour. This troupe carried the minstrel show throughout England as well as to Scotland and Ireland. By the time Sweeney returned home in 1845, he had left an indelible mark. The first native English banjoist, Joseph Arnold Cave, who got his start by imitating Sweeney's technique and covering his songs, eve~ performed on a copy of his master's instrument. George Swayne Buckley, a Sweeney pupil who played with the Congo Melodists, a notable troupe of English emigres, was billed for several years as "Young Sweeney"; and so it went. Is "Joe" Sweeney the missing link in the evolution ofT. S. Eliot's Sweeney? Other ancestors have been identified: a
Bosron pugilist; a London pub-keeper; a St. Louis physician; King Suibhne, the mad hero of a Middle-Irish romance; SweeneyTodd, the "demon barber" ofEnglish melodrama; the brute Irish stereotype of the British and American comic stages. Bur onlyJoel Walker Sweeney links Eliot's creation with the prominent minstrel show elements in Sweeney Agonistes, and his audacious assault on fortress England would have made this figure a natural object of Eliot's empathy. By 1919, Eliot was representing himself to his British friends as an American jazz-banjoist, an aesthetic interloper in London drawing rooms (Letters 357). The transformation of Eliot's Sweeney character between 191 iand 1926 has been noted before, e.g. by Carol Smith ("Sweeney" 92). It is clear that by the time he wrote Sweeney Agonistes Eliot had developed a certain affection for Sweeney and even a tendency to identifY with him. One would not have anticipated this from, say, "Sweeney Erect," where Sweeney appears ro illustrate the human beast. But in Sweeney Agonistes, Sweeney has come to speak for Eliot; he is the one character in the play with spiritual insightan insight gained through sin and suffering. According to Eliot's own account, Sweeney's speeches address the "most sensitive and intelligent members ofthe audience" (Use 147). That Sweeney's alleged sin is the murder of a woman, a crime which obsesses Eliot throughout his oeuvre, reinforces their kinship. By April 5, 1933, Eliot could sign a letter to Pound "F. X. Sweeney." And in 1957, Victor Purcell's Sweeniadlampooned Eliot as "Loyola Sweeney," indicating that Sweeney, displacing Prufrock, could now be taken for his creator-a conflation that would have been unthinlrable in 1920. Joel Walker Sweeney, whose history Eliot, as an American with a lingering enthusiasm for minstrelsy, may well have encountered in England, completes the chain that links the callous ape of the "Sweeney poems" of the teens to the musical martyr of the twenties. FOR HELP WITH SOCIETY MATTERS To submit papers for any reading session sponsored by the Society, or to make suggestions or inquiries tegarding the annual meeting or other Society activities, please contact the President: Shyamal Bagchee Department of English, University ofAlberta Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2E5 PH. (780) 492-3258 FAX: (780) 492-8142 email: [email protected] .
T.S. Eliot Society Newsletter
Summer 2001
Ids hard to imagine anyone in the fUture reading ''Ash
Wednesday" without Schuchard's chapter ready to hand.
Eliot's Dark Angel: Intersections ofLift andArt, by
The same goes for the Sweeney quatrains, "those difficult
Ronald Schuchard. Oxford University Press, 1999. 268 stripped-down poems of sexual grotesques" (90), to say
pages, appendix, notes and index.
nothing of the abortive play, Sweeney Agonistes. Schuchard
devotes three chapters ro the stream of influences that fed
The overriding and unifYing concern of these essays is to into Eliot's creation of Sweeney, the fleshly man par excel-
trace how Eliot's affective and devotional life determined lence-Elizabethan drama, with its "controlled horror"
his poetic choices. Ofcourse!, one exclaims, after a few chap- (120); "the ferocious English humor" (90) of Marie Lloyd
ters of Schuchard, that vaunted "impersonality" in Eliot's and the music hall; above all, Baudelaire's anti-romantic
criticism is a red herring. The "objective correlative" de- preoccupation with original sin and the problem ofevil. In
rives not from any "negative capability" such as Keats might his quatrains and Sweeney poems, Schuchard makes pretty
have recognized in Shakespeare (the novelist's ability to enter clear, Eliot attempted the role of "savage comedian."
other skins) but is a projection from an intense subjective
Schuchard devotes one chapter to Eliot's interest in St.
state. This is why Eliot as a reader and commentator of Ignatius of Loyola and Jesuit spirituality. Eliot was not ex-
other poets focused so intently on the poet's sensibility, "the actly won over. He faulted Ignatius, along with St. Teresa
personal emotional tone beneath the surface" (73). His in- of Avila and no doubt the whole Counter-reform and the
terest lay in how "the passions and desires of the creator Baroque movement, for giving roo free a rein to religious
may be satisfied in the work ofart." Freud's essay, "Creative emotion. The charge, as Schuchard phrases it, is "emotional
Writers and Daydreaming," and Matthew Arnold's touch- laxity" (164). What put Eliot off? Was it the urging of
srone method seem much more germane ro him than any Ignatius in the Spiritual Exercises that we pray not so much
principles of the New Criticism.
to realize as ro "feel" (in Spanish, sentir) the truths of the
Talting a cue from Dante's Vita Nuova, Eliot engaged faith and the mysteries of Jesus Christ? Was it "the visual
in self-expression via a formula that skirted autobiography. imaginative method of St. Ignatius" (173), which has long
He never denied that his own life-his "dark angel," or been recognized as distinctive of the Exercises and ro which
thorny and bewildering erotic history-was the key ro his' Eliot alluded in the Clark Lectures?
poems. One can understand why Eliot held on to the key,
The real discrepancy between Eliot and Ignatius may
insisting, for instance, that his brilliant pastiche, The Waste lie in this, that Eliot's experience of the "dark angel" led
Land, can be universalized to the rest of us-"You! hypo- him to a way of detachment and renouncement, to the via
crite lecteurf'
negativa of the mystical life, that emptying of the senses
Eliot expressed some philosophicdoubt about unity of and of the spirit as described by St. John of the Cross.
personality. Was this because so many mental influences Ignatius, on the other hand, though he hopes for the
fed into him? In his opening chapter, Schuchard lays out exercitant to attain complete detachment (see his medita-
the tremendous course of reading Eliot set for himself and tion The Three Degrees of Humility), definitely favored
his hard-pressed students in the London Extension lec- the via affirmativa. One can tell this from his Contempla-
tures, 1915-19. Schuchard does well in gauging the respec- tion for Obtaining Love, the keystone of the Exercises, and
tive magnitudes of many stars in Eliot's constellation of from the kind of daily prayer he favors, that of "finding
authors-the poets of The Yellow Book, Laforgue, Baudelaire, God in all things." Ultimately, to be sure, Ignatius and Eliot
Bergson, Babbitt, Donne, Dante, George Herbert, St. John "are folded in a single party."
of the Cross. Eliot was no random reader; his own burning
Ronald Schuchard, in these "separate chapters ordered
questions pointed him.
not by linear progression but by evenrs of significance and
Inventions of the March Hare includes Eliot's "First intensity in Eliot's life and work" (22), impresses us, first of
Debate between Body and Soul." He did well to call it "first." all, with his mastery of all the quotable but uncollected
Schuchard's thesis and his unfolding story is that this de- Eliot materials. They make his Notes fascinating to read.
bate, this "drama of spiritual consciousness under sensual And he convinces us in that daunting task ofEliot scholar-
assault" (13), went on in successive transformations right ship, the arrangement and assessment of stellar influences;
to the end of "Little Gidding." The specifics of this drama, only Matthew Arnold, as critic, seems ro deserve brighten-
where a sensitive and self-scrutinizing person reaches for ing. These essays, composed "to fill glaring gaps on an in-
moral and religious order, give us a better grasp ofthat major tellectual grid" (22), are anything but scattershot; they ini-
bur elusive concept of Eliot's, "the discipline of the emo- tiate us to a poetic oeuvre colored at each stage by instinct
tl.ons. "
and frayed affectivity. Schuchard's title, Eliot's Dark Angel,
T.S. Eliot Society Newsletter
Summer 2001
not only provides a good epithet for Bertrand Russell and a vivid projection of the shadow side of Eliot, it allows the author to quote, one stanza at the head of each chapter, from Lionel Johnson's remarkable poem, "The Dark Angel." Read as a whole after reading the book as a whole, Johnson's poem can be seen mirroring the psychomachia not of a reluctant h~donist but of a pilgrim with baffled affections drawn to the divine. Rev. James Torrens, S.]. T. S. Eliot~ Orchestra: CriticalEssays on Poetry and Music, edited by John Xiros Cooper. New York: Garland, 2000; $75. If you were to look this book up on "Amazon.corn" and check for rhe consumer's reports rhat Amazon uses to stimulate further sales, you would find rhe following anonymous profession: "Nearly everyone who addresses T. S. Eliot's imaginative and critical work must acknowledge rhe importance of music in thematic and formal terms. This collection oforiginal essays thoroughly explores rhis aspect of his work from a number of perspectives." I confess to personal annoyance at any instance of critical imperative-all future readers must etc.--after all, readers are never compelled to do anything. No writing has that kind ofpower in and of itself. But it's not the imperative alone that here catches me so much as rhe implication that everyone has always known "theimportance of music" in Eliot's poetry. On the contrary, although Eliot's retrospective framing of the celebrated sequence that followed after "Burnt Norton" implicitly encouraged such assumptions, as editor John Xiros Cooper observes in his T. S. Eliot and the Ideology of "Four Quartets" (1995), most Critical Approaches to Eliot "suggest the analogy" but "don't really do very much with it. They go about the business of interpretation in traditional ways that could have very easily proceeded without the drawing out of the musical parallel in the prst place." Incidentally, David Barndollar, one of the contributors to this volume, cites this very passage from Cooper in setting up his own work (181). That he does so is just one example of the critical self-consciousness characteristic of this innovative volume. Cooper's contributors are generally aware that, in order really to do their work, they must treat music as something more than a vague metaphor for poetic textures that could be described or treated in other ways. T. S. Eliot~ Orchestra is not rhe work of a coterie, or even of a "new generation)) of scholars: Cooper's contributors range from new Ph.D.s still without a tenure-stream appointment to long-established experts to emeriti. That
diversity is one of the most cheering things about this volumebecause it suggests a fundamental change in the orientation of Eliot scholarship: an orientation that characteris- tically involves renewing our relation to Eliot's poems by grasping them in historical contexts rhat are often as unfamiliar as they are complex in their socio-cultural dynamics. That there are disagreements among its contributors, especially in Part 1 ("Eliot and Popular Musical Culture") where the body of previous scholarship is still small, strikes me as another of the volume's strengths. Again, Cooper does not purport to lay down any kind of critical orrhodoxy, but there does seem to be a general split between those of his contributors who believe Eliot was out ofhis deprh in treating popular culture or music, and those who think he understood what he was about perfectly well. Thus it is that the groundbreaking work of David Chinitz, who generally celebrates Eliot's attentions to popular music as playful and knowing, continues to serve as a reference point for several of the contributors, at least two ofwhom overtly challenge him. Sometimes these challenges open up discussion by submitting a different perspective, as when Jonna Mackin argues that Eliot's take on Marie Lloyd was "more romanti~ cized than realistic." At several points, however, it seems clear that the aurhors know a great deal more about Eliot than they do about early jazz and the popular culture 19101930. Permit me two examples that I hope will not seem uncharitable: George Harriman (69) was of mixed racenot "black"-and that distinction was no less, important to him than it was, say, to Jean Toomer or Nella Larsen; and the music performed at the Cotton Club was most decid- edly not "directed specifically toward black audiences" (34) for the simple reason that, while rhe entertainment and help at the club was not white, the patrons-almost without exception-were. Without doubt, the kinds of "cultural studies" approaches to canonical texts that we find in this volume raise the bar on what counts as sufficient scholar- ship. But despite individual errors, T. S. Eliot~ Orchestra collects work that is as illuminating as it is diverting. There is no wayeo do justice to a volume as rich and as large as this one in a short review. Let me dwell momentarily on the editor's own contribution: Cooper's "Thinking with Your Ears: Rhapsody, Prelude, Song in Eliot's early Lyrics." This is a splendid essay that offers both historical sweep and theoretical depth. Cooper begins by describing a 1921 concert program of Strauss waltzes organized by Arnold Schoenberg. Cooper describes how Schoenberg found '(an inner structure of dissonances" in Strauss'sprightly composirions--compositions that contemporaneous Viennese audiences would inevitably have associated with the imperial splendor of their recent, but vanished forevet, Hapsburg past. Setting up an analogy for what he
T S. Eliot Society Newsletter
Summer 2001
hears happening in Eliot's early lyrics, Cooper surmises that Schoenberg must have captured the mood of a Vienna that could not forget the past, yet needed ro hear the brave new tone-world of the future as well. Schoenberg discovers in the luscious melodies the coming clatter of modernity; it is as if the grandiose Vienna of the past already contained within it the noise of its own final, fizzling deflation. If one listens attentively enough, one can hear the future in embryo, but muted in Strauss's originals by the ravishing sonority of Empire. Only the arrival of the proper external conditions could bring the unborn to life. Schoenberg is, to quote Hugh Kenner's shrewd name for T. S. Eliot, the "invisible poet" of these waltzes. He merely "arranges" the given musical artifact to show that it contains- that it must contain-the ghastly colorings of its photographic negative image. If, in his attempt to represent the quality of Schoenberg's (and so Eliot's) deconstruction of received forms, Cooper here resorts to photographic metaphors, it only goes ro show how difficult it is to write about music in strictly "musical" terms. Other contriburors ro the volume, especially in Part 3 ("Eliot and the Composers") actually reproduce musical notations and attempt ro integrate prosodic and metrical analysis. But what Cooper is after with his Viennese anecdote is what Ezra Pound might have called a "luminous [historical] detail"-an analogy to propose something of the key and tone with which Eliot takes up the historical materials so ineluctably joined into his own poetic texts. The difficulty of making sense of musicexplicirly informs the two essays that make up the volume's unusual second section: "You Are The Music." Here as elsewhere, Cooper's project shows courage and imagination in taking on questions that hitherto have been avoided not just because they might have seemed inappropriate to a "literary" criticism but also because they are quite simply difficult to address-at least in any sense that might be meaningful for many ofEliot's readers. Brad Bucknell accordingly sets aside any discussion ofanalogies between "the 'way' music means, and the 'way' Eliot's poetry means," and takes up instead "the notion of music itself as a cultural signifier" (111). John Adames pursues a "history of ideas" approach in his "Eliot's Ars Musica Poetica: Sources in French Symbolism." In Part 3, various contributors explore the relations be- tween Eliot's work and the work of Tippett, Beethoven, Ives, Britten, Wagner, and Stravinsky; and David Banks explores "Two Ways ofHearing a Poem"-reading aloud and composing. There are other composers (like Alan Rawsthorne) who have set some part of Eliot's oeuvre, but
this is a good sampling, and in any case the volume closes with Brent E. Whitted and Andrew Shenton's checklist of rilUsicai settings of Eliot's work. That checklist strikes me as another example of Cooper's admirable thoroughness. One might close by offering to judge this book by its cover. Cooper's title, "T. S. Eliot's Orchestra" might ordi- narily suggest a body of "serious" musicians, but the cover photo instead offers a picture of King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band (probably from 1923, though the photo credit doesn't say). Halfthe band, includingJoe Oliver himself, is wrapped atound ontO the back cover. On front, we see piano player Lil Hardin (later to be Louis Armstrong's first wife), sitting center stage and showing a well-turned ankle as well as an elaborate coif, into the back ofwhich Oliver aims his muted trumpet; clarinetist Johnny Dodds hams it up atop the piano, making a show of the soles of his shoes and so' performing the transgression that contemporaneous audiences learned to associate with jazz; trombonist Honore Dutrey is on his knees on the floor behind Hardin, his profile to the camera and also the profile of his fully extended "big long sliding thing"; and banjo player Bill Johnson stands behind the piano looking like the designated straight man: a tuxedo-wearing, African American, banjo-playing straight man in a comedy whose conventions we by now only halfremember, and half-understand. The choice of this image is, of course, significant, and explaining its semiotic play on the cover of Cooper's book might make for an interest, ing essay in itself For me, the choice suggests an analogy with Eliot's music almost as rich as the one Cooper draws from Schoenberg's performance of Strauss. That is, our relation to the signifYing in this photo is rather like our relation to Eliot's ideas about popular music, if not about music in general. We miss much by not recognizing the historical drift between our contemporary ideas and those that Eliot developed nearly a century ago. This carefully-considered and imaginative volume does much to remind us of things we've forgotten, and teach us things we never knew. But really that is fun that the book invites us all to claim for ourselves. This is a serious collection of essays on a serious topic, but given how many literary people cherish music as their almost guilty pleasure, I'm fairly confident that Eliot Society readers will also find much in it to enjoy. Michael Coyle Colgate University
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T.S. Eliot Society Newsletter
Summer 2001
T.S. Eliot~ Bleistein Poems: Uses of Literary Allusion in . "Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar" and ''Dirge,'' by Patricia Sloane. London: International Scholars Publications, 1999.400 pages, index.
able, thorough, rational, and logically argued counterbalance to Julius's passion. H Richard Seddon
Patricia Sloane's book is the first of a proposed trilogy of studies concerned with five Eliot poems: "Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar," "Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service," "The Hippopotamus," The Waste Land, and "The Hollow Men." She intends to look at the poems from the telatively tare vantage ofeach as an absurdist fable and suggests that there might be a greater absurdist fable that they are alll'arty to. With "Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar" in the opening volume the reader is immediately curious as to how she will handle and react to Anthony Julius's much-read book, T.S. Eliot, Anti-Semitism and Literary Form. Such a curiosity is well met by Sloane's book. Her intention with the book is not a defense ofEliot ftom charges ofanti-Semitism but rather an exegesis ofthe poems from a very deep study of their sources and of their allusions. Even though much of Julius's argument is destroyed en passant, the question of Eliot's alleged antiSemitism is left open to the reader, who is now a reader much more conversant with the context of Eliot's references to Jews. Central to Sloane's understanding ofEliot are three literary aspects ofhis personality. He was, according to Sloane, a satirist who loved to make words play one with another, and he was an untepentant punner. Using this as her foundation, she looks at many of the passages routinely labeled anti-Semitic and demonstrates how a deep understanding of the sources and allusions that Eliot uses can point to a much different and, by the way, more interesting reading of his poems. Sloane reveals Eliot's major sources for "Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar" and "Dirge" to be Dante's Inferno, Joyce's Ulysses, Shakespeare, John Ruskin and the Bible. The final two chapters of the book are dedicated to an extremely fine and detailed analysis of the title poem's debt to Dante. This discussion and her other numerous references to Dante reveal Sloane to have a scholarly apprecitation of Dante and, most interestingly, Eliot's understanding of Dante, which gives a refreshing dimension to the study of his poems. Sloane's book is an immense treasure trove of the most detailed information on Eliot's sources and how he used them. No detail is so small that it is not thoroughly investigated and pondered. Word and line Counts reveal texture in the poems hidden prior to Sloane's analysis. It belongs in every Eliot library, public and private, but it especially belongs alongside Julius's book where it will provide a valu-
ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS AMERICAN LITERATURE ASSOCIATION MAY 2001 Shyamal Bagchee "Habeas Corpus: 'The Indigestible Portions': The Reader and the Necessary Abject in Eliot's Poetry" In this paper I attempt to formulate a poststtuctural reading strategy involving the selves and consciousnesses~and, therefore, the choices or the relinquishment ofchoices--of the poet and the reader of the Modernist lyric. I take T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) as my logical and primary subject. The early poems of Eliot are remarkable for their often strident and direct address to the reader, and for extending an invitation to him or her to accompany the shifting narratorial/ authorial persona through vivid and disgust-evoking terrains. Beyond, say, the "you and I" in the opening line of the trend-setring "Prufrock" (1915), Eliot's speaker in his pivotal work, The Waste Land (1922), labels the readervia a line· from Mallarme-as "You! hypocrite lecteur!mon semblable,~mon frere!" thereby implicating the act of reading and writing into a complex, overlapping and untrustworthy yet cross-creative relationship. At a later point in his career Eliot sought to move away from this Modernist mode into.a mystical one. Especially in his post-conversion poem '~sh Wednesday"(1930), he decides to journey it alone-note the five repetitions of "I" in the brief opening stanza-preferring to describe the earlier perambulations as the necessary traversing of Inferno. Although the salvation-seeking speaker invites mystical "white leopards" to "feed to satiety/ On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been contained/ In the hollow round of my skull," not all can be consumed even by these supernatural partakers, and the speaker/poet is left with the awkward task of accounting for "My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions/ Which the leopards reject." I propose that having earlier imbricated his self into a composite with that ofhis reader, and thereby produced a communal whole, the speaker cannot now have enough ownership of his self to dissolve it all. This forces him to recognize the "indigestible portions" of the self, which he cannot totally disown as the Other. Adapting the notion of the abject, defined byJulia Kristeva and refined by other feminist theorists, I suggest that neither the reader nor the whole selfcan
T.S. Eliot Society Newsletter
Summer 2001
be discarded by the poet either as the Other, or as the dis- regulated industrialism, and to the exhaustion of natural
solved self, for each inhabits the boundary of the writerly resources." Rightfully aware that environmental preserva-
self-as its non-self, though not as any knowable Other. tion requires more than a concern for the biological, he
The power that might accrue from the salvationist impulse presents a "social-religious-artistic complex" that would ef-
cannot be enacted in the absence of this knowledge. The fect a more substantial change in environmental practices.
poet's reader-implicated self cannot be othered.
The rejection of a materialistic ethic is necessaty. For Eliot,
"a wrong attitude towards nature implies, somewhere, a
wrong attitude towards God."
Mary Grabar "T.S. Eliot: Environmentalist"
The outlook is also evidenced in his poetry, which evolves from the cynical perspective of an agnostic spealter
in a harsh urban environment, or from the presentation of The 1966 paper, "The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic a clerk and a typist who join as twO "pleasure machines"- Crisis," in which Lynn White, Jr., claimed that modern to science and technology are "permeated with Christian ar- is a sacrament of two connected to God, earth, commu-
rogance towards nature," is frequently cited as marking the nity, and future generations. beginning of the environmental movement, when a "revo-
lution in consciousness" from one of anthropomorphism
to ecocentrism occurred. George Sessions, in an anthology William Harmon
on environmental ethics, presents the standard fare of "T. S. Eliot's Poetry and Nineteenth-Centuty Prose"
ecocenrricism--':"ecofeminism," "deep ecology," and animal
rights-and ignores writers like T.S. Eliot, Richard Weaver, In any number ofdetails, Eliot's poetry owes a word here or
and the Southern Agrarians.
a phrase there to prose fiction by Hawthorne, Poe, C.
However, the "ecocentric" position has proven to be Bronte, E. Bronte, Dickens, George Eliot, Lewis Carroll,
detrimental to its own goals. While ecofeminist Carolyn Stevenson, Conrad, Hardy, Kipling, Conan Doyle, and oth-
Merchantasserts that "the conjunction ofconservation and ers. In an uncommonly large and complex number ofcases,
ecology movements with women's rights and liberation has a lineage can be traced back to fantasies by George
moved in the direction of reversing both the subjugation of MacDonald, who originated "heart of light" years before
nature and women," the reality has proven to be different. Conrad's Heart ofDarkness and decades before the appear-
The ideal of cooperation and harmony with nature is in ance of the phrase in both The Wilste Land and "Burnt
conflict with feminist aspirations of independence and Norton," as well as the repeated collocation offire and rose.
material success.
The most engaging exemplar, however, remains Thackeray,
The sexual revolution, which Wendell Berry refers to fQr certain isolated words ("estaminet," "salvolatile"); for a
as an "industrial phenomenon" in ·which the body was woman named "Belladonna" associated with jewelry; and
turned into a kind of "pleasure machine," has culminated for a charade that juxtaposes Agamemnon and Nightingale
in the heralding of such developments as cyborgs and "sex seventy years before "Sweeney Among the Nightingales."
work" as a way to assert female autonomy and power. Ses-
sions wonders that ecofeminist Donna Haraway '(encour-
ages women to reject their organic origins and become 'cy- Ethan Lewis
borgs': a merging of humans with machines and "Eliot and Akhmatova"
megatechnology. "
-mon semblable, -ma soeur
The blindness to this inevitable result arises from a his-
torical short-sightedness and philosophical limitation. A This essay treats the authors mentioned in an effort to con-
philosophy based on materialist premises logically culmi- firm the validity of the dicta in "Tradition and the Indi-
nates in materialist results. The untenable ecocentric view, vidual Talent," concerning reading relationally. Much .of
by abdicating human responsibility or dominion, has paved my text addresses D.M. Thomas' allusion to Four Quartets
the way for domination-by technology.
as Poem Without a Heros "English double." Yet I begin by
A more realistic view is presented by T.5. Eliot in The observing that Eliot's early epochal work likewise resonates
Idea ofa Christian Society. Going back to the spiritual roots· with Poem. In two respects especially, Akhmatova's waste
of the problem, he warns that the "organization of society land of St. Petersburg casts The Waste Land in relief. That on the principle of private profit, as well as public destruc- "all the women are one woman/' all cities one ~'Unreal City,"
tion, is leading both to the deformation of humans by un- is counterposed by spealter and Petersburg in Poem serving
T.S. Eliot Society Newsletter
Summer 2001
as representative figures suffering what so many individuals (people and metropoli) have endured. The horrors of Stalinist collectivism resemble those of"Eliotic meltdown." Yet that resemblance underscores disparate notions of the
post-modern. That Eliot's work contains a play ofdramatic voices has long been well-understood, but critics have not fully recognized that a founding part of the drama is the performance of gender. Indeed, this poet, sometimes fla-
one and many-of, for Eliot, the many in one; for grantly positioned as the epitome of male poetic/sexual hiAkhmatova, the one symbolizing many. But the Poem/Waste erarchy, is one of the first twentieth-century figureS to deLand pairing likewise brings to light Eliot's implicit cri- pict "the ways in which the very thinking of what is pos-
tique-in the "Coriolanus" passage and occasionally inti- sible in gendered life is foreclosed by certain habitual and
mated elsewhere in the work--of congenital isolation.
violent presumptions." To illustrate the way Eliot uncovers
As perceiving Eliot through Akhmatova helps us gage these structures of the self as performances and as socially
his difficult pilgrimage closing in Four Quartets, wherein constructed in discourse, I reexamine two crucial emotional
he genuinely corresponds with others ro form part of a scenes from The Waste Land: othe Hyacinth girl, and the greater whole, so Quartets underscores Akhmatova's only first conversation in ''A Game of Chess," and allude to a limited success in Poem at discerning meaning from experi- third, the silent confession to the friend in "What theThun-
ence. At the outset of their crowning works, both artists der Said." Each of these scenes is drawn, I believe, from
despair of redemption. By "Little Gidding," however, in- memories of intense moments from Elior's personal life, tricate patterns of meditation and recollection have, struc- ~ith three different persons with whom his relationship
turally as well as semantically, contended for a viable unity was deeply personal. Though such attributions may never
wherein history plays an important role. Yet Poem Without fully escape from the speculative, recently published docua Hero can never mine from history this otherworldly per- mentary evidence maltes somewhat less arbitrary the asso-
manence. History at worst bars any vision beyond the ciation of the first of these scenes with Emily Hale, the
present; at best, charts a convoluted path to an uncertain second with Vivienne Eliot, and the third (though a more
future. Like Eliot's, Akhmatova's message is inscribed within contested one) with Jean Verdenal. It is not insignificant
her structure. But-consistent with the paradoxical rela- that each of these scenes involves markedly different per-
tionship 'twixt doubles"'--this similarity highlights differ, formances of gender and social situations in which expecence: in this case, between Quartets' "all shall be well" °and tations ofperformance are clearly, sometimes traumatically,
Poems indeterminacy.
imposed. In understanding the full ramifications ofthese
scenes, the biographical allusion is enriching; in the lan-
guage of Butler's later book, they are Bodies That Matter.
Cyrena N. Pondrom
Moreover, recognizing the performative elements of
"Sex, Gender and The Waste Land, Or T.S. Eliot and the Eliot's understanding of gender can help us get past some
Performativity of Gender"
disputes in Eliot criticism and perhaps help us malte sense--
possibly only for our own satisfaction--of some of Eliot's
One of the most influential ideas developed as American more abrupt decisions in his personal life. Both the first
feminist theory and women's studies grew into disciplines and last of the three examples are contested sites among
is the assertion that gender is socially constructed. This theo- those who wish to claim Eliot exclusively for worlds in which
retical position may be located in a context of post-struc- gender is clear and unambiguous. Significantly, each con-
turalist theory that sees meaning constructed and deferred tains textual qualities which foster gender ambiguity. Such
in language, and the speaking subject itself as constructed underdetermination forces a construction of gender in dis-
in discourse-positions variously elaborated by Lacan, course even to read the poem or spealt about it. Moreover, 0 Derrida, Foucault, Kristeva. At the beginning of the last recognizing Eliot's understanding ofgender as performative
decade this idea received a powerful re-interpretation in highlights the extent to which competing critical claims to
the work of Judith Butier, who argued that gender is assign Eliot's own gender, through these scenes, are them-
performative, asserting that "the performativity of gender selves ultimately a refusal ofthe very pomait Eliot offe.rs of
revolves around ... the way in which the anticipation of a the selfas a performance actualizing some among its many
gendered essence produces that which it posits as outside fluid possibilities. Ever the creator in words, Eliot under-
itself" and that "performativity is not a singular act, but a stood life itself as performance.
repetition and a ritual, which achieves its effects through
its naturalization in the context of a body ...." And it is here that one can see T. S. Eliot profoundly anticipate what was to be a fundamental cluster of concepts talten, for much ofthe latter part of the century, to be
T.S. Eliot Society Newsletter
Summer 2001
T. S. ELIOT BIBLIOGRAPHY 2000 prepared by Nancy Goldforb BOOKS Cooper, John Xiros, ed. T. S. Eliot; Orchestra: Critical Essays on Poetry and Music. New York: Garland, 2000. Cuddy, Lois A. T. S. Eliot and the Poetics ofEvolution: Sub/ ~r.rions ofClassicism, Culture, and Progress. Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 2000. Donoghue, Denis. Wtmir Alone: The Poet, T. S. Eliot. New Haven: Yale UP, 2000. Eliot, T. S. Selected Poems. Note by Michael Herbert. Harlow: Longman, 2000. Gordon, LyndalL T. S. Eliot: An Imperfect Life. New York: Norton, 2000. Hastings, Michael. Tom.and Vivo London: Oberon, 2000. Mclaughlin, Joseph. Writing the Urban Jungle: Reading Empire in Lomlon from Doyle to Eliot. Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 2000. Pirani, Alix. The Four Quartets: T.S. Eliot and the 20th Century Psyche. London: Guild of Pastoral Psychology, 2000. Raine, Craig. In Defence ofT. S. Eliot. London: Picador, 2000. Ridler, Anne. Workingfor T. S. Eliot: A Personal Reminiscence. London: Enitharmon, 2000. Roefl'aers, Hugo. Eliot; Early Criticism: Philosophical explorations into The Sacred Wood: A Reconsideration. Frankfurt am Main; New York: P. Lang, 2000. Rosaye, Jean-Paul. T.S. Eliot, Poete-Philosophe: Essai de TJpologie
Freed, l,ewis. "T. S. Eliot, Heidegger, Stanley Fish, et al." Yeats Eliot Review 16:3 (Spring 2000): 2-19. Gold, Matthew K. "The Expert Hand and the Obedient Heart: Dr. Vittoz, T.S.Eliot, and the Therapeutic Possibilities of The Waste Land." Journal ofModern Literature 23:3 (Summer, 2000): 519. Harvie, Christopher. "The Moment of British Nationalism, 1939-1970." Political Quarterly 71:3 (July-Sept 2000): 328-41. Ingelbien, Raphael. "The Uses of Symbolism: Larkin and Eliot." New Larkins for the Old: Critical Essays. Ed. James Booth. Houndmills, Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan: New York: St. Martin's, 2000. 130-43. Kirby-Smith, H.T. "In Search of a Foot." Southern Review 36:3 (Summer 2000): 648. Matthews, S. '~Yeats's 'passionate improvisations': Grierson, Eliot and the Byronic Integrations ofYeats's Later Poetry." English 49:194 (Summer 2000): 127-41. Miller, Andrew John. '''Compassing Meterial Ends': T. S. Eliot, Christian Pluralism, and the Nation-State." ELH67:1 (Spring 2000): 229-55. Paglia, Luigi. "I 'Preludes' di T. S. Eliot: I:eclissi del tempo solare." Strumenti Critici: Rivista Quadrimestrale di CultUra e Critica Letteraria (SCr) 15:1 (Jan 2000): 133-50. Parlato, Carmela. jlUn confronto agrandi Hnee: MontaleEliot-Silarus." Rossegna Bimestrale di Cultura,_ (Salerno) 40:207 (Jan-Feb 2000): 55-57. Rosaye,lean -Paul. "Persistance et rejet du victorianisme chez T. S. Eliot." Cahiers Victoriem et Ednuardiem: Revue du Centre d'Etudes it de Recherches Victoriennes et
Genttique. Villeneuve d'Ascq (Nord): Presses Universitaires
Edouardiennes de I'Universite Paul VaMry 51 (April 2000):
du Septentrion, 2000. Sloane, Patricia. T. S. Eliot; BMstein Poems: Uses ofLiterary Allusion in 'Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar' and 'Dirge.' Introduction by Shyamal Bagchee. Lanham, MD: International Scholars, 2000. This is the first of three volumes on allusion in Eliot's early poems, collectively titled Pun and Games. Takeda, Noriko. A Flowering Word.' The Modernist Expression in Stephane Mal14rmtf, T. S. Eliot, and Yusano Akiko. New York: Peter Lang, 2000. Tamplin, Ronald. A Preface to T.S. Eliot. Harlow: Longman, 2000. CRITICAL ESSAYS
103-13. Rowland, Dominic. "T. S. Eliot and the French Intelligence: ReadingJulien Benda." ANQ 13:4 (Fall 2000): 26-37. Saunders, Judith P. "The Love Song of Satin-Legs Smith: Gwendolyn Brooks Revisits Prufrock's Hell." Papers on Language & Literature 36:1 (Winter 2000): 3-18. Schaum, Melita. '''Just Looking': Class, Desire, and the Consuming Vision in T.S. Eliot's 'In the Department Store.'" Journal ofModern Literature 23:2 (Winter 1999): 335. Sloane, Patricia. j'Pun and Games: A New Approach to Five Early Poems byT. S. Eliot." Yeats Eliot Review 16:1 (Summer 1999): 2-20. - - - . "Searching for a Statue of a Girl: Freud's Delusion and Dream and T. S. Eliot's 'La Figlia che Piange.''' The
Chinitz, David. "T.S. Eliot's Blue Verses and Their Sources in the Folk Tradition." Journal ofModern Literature 23:2 (Winter 1999): 329. Daniel, Anne Margaret. u:The Prophets': Auden 0,11 Yeats and Eliot." Yea" Eliot Review. 16:3 (Spring 2000): 31-44. Donoghue, Denis. "Teaching Literature: The Force of Form." New Literary History 30: 1 (Winter 1999): 5,25. - - - . "T.S. Eliot and the Poem Itself." Partisan Review, 67: 1 (Winter 2000):10-12 . Douglass, Paul. Eliot's Hulme--Modern Schoolman: A Quarterly Journal ofPhilosophy 75:3 (March 1998): 237-50. Smith, Grover. "The T. S. Eliot Society: Celebration and Scholarship 1980-1999: Dictionary ofLiterary Biography Yearbook 1999. Gale Research 2000. 342-44. - - - . "Charnel and Carnal in 'Whispers ofimmortality.''' T. S. Eliot Society Newsletter 40 (Spring 2000): 2-4. Stevens, Michael R. "The Bones in Mr. Eliot's Closet: Books. & Culture 6:6 (Nov 2000): 36. - - - . "T. S. Eliot's Neo-Medieval Economics." Journal of Markets and Morality 2:2 (1999).
T.S. Eliot Society Newsletter
Summer 2001
Weiss. Theodore. "Soiled in the Working: Hamlet and Eliot." American Poetry Review, 29:6 (Nov 2000): 15. White, Kimberly Kennedy. "The Wmte Land: Eliot, Tradition, and the Mythic Method." The Image ofthe Twentieth Century in Literature, Media, and Society. Eds. Will Wright and Steven Kaplan. Pueblo, CO: Sociery for the Interdisciplinary Study of Social Imagery, 2000. 474-78.
library journal 125: 17 (15 Oct 2000): 68. Wassenaar, Ingrid. "Deviant Modernism: Sexual and Textual Errancy in T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Marcel Proust." French Studies 54:3 Guly 2000): 393-95. "Words Alone: The PoetT. S. Eliot." Publishers Weekly 247:42 (16 Oct 2000): 62.
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Bernstein, Richard. "Pqrtrait of a visionary in a heap of broken
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Brooker, Jewel Spears. "The Two Eliots." Books & Culture 6:6
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Cooper, John Xiros. "T. S. Eliot and American Poetry." T. S.
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Demoor, Marysa FWO, "A Critical Difference:T.S. Eliot and
John Middleton Murry in English Literary Criticism.
1919-1928." English Studies 81:2 (April 2000): 171-73-
Goldfarb, Nancy. "T. S. Eliot: Mystic, Son, and Lover." T. S.
Eliot Society Newsletter 37 (Spring 1999): 4-5.
Harding, Jason. "Doubting Thomist: T.S. Eliot and John
Middleton Murry." Cambridge Quarterly 29:2 Gune
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Isherwood, Charles, "The Family Reunion." Variety 378:13
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Kirsch, Adam. "So Elegant, So Intelligent: Denis Donoghue
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York Times Book Reviewl 05:48 (26 Nov 2000): 17+.
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David Nordloh. Durham: Duke Universiry Press, 2000.
McDonald, Peter. ''A Critical Difference: T.S. Eliot and John
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Nourie, A.R. "The Early T.S. Eliot and Western philosophy."
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Smith, Sarah Harrison. "T.S. Eliot: An Imperfect Life." New
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Bernstein, Kimberly Jane. Modernism Goes to the Movies: T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein and H. D. Diss. Temple U, 1999. Ann Arbor: UMI,2000. A9938644. Kinnison, William Errett. T. S. EliotS Comic Visions: 'Four Quartets' and the Comic Structure oft&e Late Plays. Ohio State U, 2000. Ann Asbor: UM!, 2000. DA9962413.· Milstead, Claudia. The Zen ofModern Poetry: Reading Eliot, Stevens, and Williams in a Zen Context; U ofTennesse~, 1998. Anri Asbor: UMI, 2000. DA9936285. Ramsey, Leigh. "The 'Intolerable WrestlelWith Words and . Meanings': T. S. Eliot's Concept of Language." M. A. Thesis. Southern Illinois Universiry Edwardsville, 2000. Rapp, Eric. Against Idem ofOrder: William Carks Williams' Reactions to Wallace Sfevens and T. S. Eliot. U ofToledo, 2000. Ann Asbor: UMI, 2000. DA9965024. Wilkins, Christopher Ian. T. S. Eliot} Theokg) ofStyle. Boston U, 2000. Ann Asbor: UM!, 2000. DA9962648. NEWSPAPER ARTICLES Honan, William H. "DonGrand Rapids, MJ. 49506 PH. (616) 452-0478
T.s. Eliot Society Newsletter
Summer 2001

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