13 August 2005

Drawn In (By) Short G(r)asps

      Recirculated today on the T.S. Eliot discussion list is this three year-old piece from The New Yorker which some of you may find of interest, especially after these opening sentences better matched to the finger-pointing crowd than to serious students of Tom:

T. S. Eliot's sex life.   Do we really want to go there?   It is a sad and desolate place.
Oh, how kind.... It only gets worse-- despite the article being relatively lucid and intelligent-- as it eventually iterates the tired old suggestions about Tom's possible homosexuality and so forth.    Mercifully, the piece is better tempered than my summary might suggest, and I think the author, Louis Menand, strikes the right chord with this redemptive assessment, the nugget of gold about Vivienne and Tom's eventually-estranged relationship:

Her stalking was not aggressive; it was pathetic.   She imagined that her husband had been taken away by people who didn't care for him and would destroy him.   She did not mean to be a harpy, and he did not mean to be a brute.   Those were just the forms their unhappiness had to take.
Sad, fatalistic, and perhaps even a bit apologetic, but I suspect inescapably true, despite-- or in spite of-- those all-too-typical (and extremely dogmatic) pseudo-, proto- and meta- feminist attempts to paint Tom as just another one of those evil dead, white, male misogynists.   Lord help me in dealing with these insipid, intrusive and innuendo-driven posturers, of whom the latest is Piers Read, whose speculations about Sir Alec Guinness are now being reviewed in the American papers.   Glad to see most of the reviewers are sniffing desperation on Read's part; it almost makes me there might be hope for more cautious biographical treatments.   Almost.

      POST-SCRIPT:   Points to anyone who can identify the source for the title of this entry. Google may or may not help you cheat on this one.  

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