Sunday, December 04, 2005

Brief Take

Brief Take On Some Difficulties
Of A Biographical Approach To Literary Criticism

(with thanks to Paige Mitchell, who suggested I write to Mrs. Eliot and who encouraged me to approach Bunting)

In Earl's Court, London, Basil Bunting confided to me that Pound's insistence that the "hyacinth girl" in The Waste Land was not Marianne Moore (1) was perhaps because by the time he was pressed upon the point by Valerie Eliot (2) Pound's memories of those years were somewhat "clouded" (3).

(1) He, Bunting, had always thought of Marianne as the hyacinth girl, he said.

(2) She pressed Pound on this point, she wrote in a letter to me, because she too had come to believe Marianne was the hyacinth girl. See her edition of The Waste Land and her note on this point.

(3) Bunting may have said "cloudy"

Republished from Branch Redd 6 (2002).

Of course, those who have read Carole Seymour-Jones's excellent biography of TSE's first wife, Vivienne, (PAINTED SHADOW (Anchor Books, 2003), could just as easily speculate that the hyacinth girl was a projection of Eliot himself and/or Jean Verdenal, the young medical officer who died at Gallipoli in 1915 and with whom Eliot was in love. (see chapter 13, "The Waste Land" pp. 290 - 315.)