Carving: Hulme, Pound, Stokes and Sweeney

  • Tony Pinkney
Part of the Macmillan Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature book series

Abstract

Ezra Pound was Eliot’s first literary contact after his arrival in England in August 1914, and may well have been decisive in prompting Eliot away from the academic career he was contemplating during his dreary residence at Oxford and towards close involvement with the artistic avant-garde in London. The story of Pound’s tireless propagandising on behalf of Eliot’s work is well known, but his benevolence veered alarmingly close to a domineering patronage. While under the older poet’s tutelage, Eliot suppressed his own religious poetry and embarked on the series of Sweeney poems in which violence against women eventually achieves maximum explicitness, and that violence is continuous with his early letters to Pound, littered as they are with bitterly anti-feminist remarks. Pound adumbrated his own Winnicottian diagnosis of this element in himself and Eliot when he remarked that they both suffered a ‘blood poison’ from America; Eliot had the disease ‘perhaps worse than I have — poor devil — the thin milk of … New England from the pap’.1 His involvement with Pound, T. E. Hulme and Wyndham Lewis during the years of Vorticism points to Eliot’s penchant for a cult of machismo, which entails a rejection of paranoid-schizoid affects, a virulent anti-feminism and an authoritarian politics that ultimately found its embodiment, at least for Pound, in Benito Mussolini.

Keywords

Fatigue Vortex Explosive Straw Bark 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Richard Cork, Vorticism and Abstract Art in the First Machine Age, 2 vols (London: Gordon Fraser, 1976).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    See Stephen Heath, ‘Difference’, Screen, no. 19 (Autumn 1978) pp. 84–5.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology, trs. Hazel E. Barnes (London: Methuen, 1958), p. 609.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Michèle le Doeuf, ‘Operative Philosophy: Simone de Beauvoir and Existentialism’, Ideology & Consciousness. no. 6 (Autumn 1979) p. 51.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Frank Kermode, Romantic Image (London: Fontana, 1971) p. 135.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Cited in The Modern Tradition, Backgrounds of Modern Literature, ed. Richard Ellmann and Charles Feidelson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965) p. 146; and p. 174.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Donald Davie, Ezra Pound: Poet as Sculptor (London: Routledge &;amp; Kegan Paul. 1965) p. 127.Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    Grover Smith, T. S. Eliot’s Poetry and Plays: A Study in Sources and Meaning, 2nd edn (Chicago University Press, 1974) p. 34.Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    Robert Browning, Poetical Works 1833–1864, ed. Ian Jack (London: Oxford University Press, 1970) pp. 367–9, 3.Google Scholar
  10. 15.
    It has been suggested that Eliot’s allowing his wife to make a rather flagrantly adulterous trip to Brighton with Russell represents an Oedipal need to placate a sexually aggressive father figure. See Harry Trosman, ‘T. S. Eliot and The Waste Land: Psychopathological Antecedents and Transformations’, Archives of General Psychiatry, no. 30 (May 1974).Google Scholar
  11. 19.
    See Freud, Civilisation and its Discontents, in The Standard Edition of the Complete Works of Sigmund Freud, trs. James Strachey, vol. XXI (London: Hogarth, 1961) ch. 4.Google Scholar
  12. 20.
    For a related literary discussion of these issues to which I am much indebted, see Terry Eagleton, The Rape of Clarissa (Oxford: Blackwell, 1982).Google Scholar
  13. 22.
    See Freud, ‘On Narcissism: an Introduction’, The Standard Edition of the Complete Works of Sigmund Freud, trs. James Strachey, vol. XIV (London: Hogarth, 1957) pp. 69–102.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Tony Pinkney 1984

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  • Tony Pinkney

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