Marie, Marie hold on tight

06 Jan 2020 9:54 AM | Frances Dickey (Administrator)

Just briefly: in a letter of March 2, 1931, Eliot alerts Hale to a book of criticism about his poetry by Tom Mac Greevy, which he has sent to her, and which she will see is not entirely correct. (In his interpretation of The Waste Land, Mac Greevy writes that Marie speaks the lines by the Hyacinth girl.) Rather, Eliot explains, Marie von Moritz was a middle-aged  woman who lived in his pension in Munich, and he has transcribed her conversation exactly in the poem.


  • 06 Jan 2020 10:29 AM | Chris Buttram
    Frances, It's been with great gratitude (and scholarly glee) that I've been reading your pieces, which are beautifully written. Thank you!
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  • 06 Jan 2020 10:31 AM | James Matthew Wilson
    Given how annoyed TSE sounds in his response to MacGreevy about the book (annoyed behind an appearance of jest), it surprises but also gratifies me to see that he thought enough of the book to mail it to Hale. I have a section on the episode in my forthcoming book on MacGreevy and his contemporaries.
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    • 06 Jan 2020 10:44 AM | Frances Dickey (Administrator)
      My sense from the context is that he liked to send her things that showed him in a positive light, and he thought she would appreciate McGreevy's misinterpretation of the "Hyacinth girl" passage because she knows that she, in fact, is the girl, and not Marie. He doesn't seem annoyed to me.
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      • 06 Jan 2020 10:57 AM | James Matthew Wilson
        Indeed! In one published letter, he complains about MacGreevy's attacks on other Criterion writers (Mac was one, from time to time) and to MacGreevy himself he makes some subtle Anglo-Catholic insults that are at least intended to be heard as jests. MacGreevy's book does not, really, show TSE in a "positive light," not throughout at any rate. It celebrates two things: The Waste Land and Eliot's conversion to Christianity. It attacks the early poems, begins with a largely indifferent description of Ash-Wednesday, and mocks Anglo-Catholicism after the fashion of an irreverent Newman. But, if Eliot viewed it as "positive," so much the better, because it does do one thing very significant: it makes Eliot into something of a Dantesque and Catholic figure, an interpretation of the work that gained steam in the rest of that decade, as Dawson and others came to view him as an ally.
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