So, I’ve been sitting on this TS Eliot thing with his creepy response to finding out he might have to pay something in reputation for his unwanted romantic attentions, wondering how best to phrase it in a climate where men (in our own literary community) are being outed on a monthly basis for toxic (and sometimes violent) behaviour towards women. That headline was the best I could come up with.
The sins of misogynistic poets past must not be so easily forgiven. The gift of verse should not, as it has for so long, deliver undeserved immunity to the estimation of character and its shortcomings.
In the Eliot-Hale case, Eliot’s statement exposes how his estimation of a woman he loved tanks precipitously when he learns she is about to release correspondence he would rather not have released. “You have made me perfectly happy: that is, happier than I have ever been in my life” writes Eliot in one of the 1,131 letters to Hale. Petulant and sulky in his statement by contrast, he alleges instead that “he and Emily had very little in common.” Had he stayed with her, he tells us, he would have ended up not as the author of “The Waste Land” but as a “mediocre professor of philosophy.”