T.S. Eliot: Horrible Anti-Semite

That Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard is, how shall we say it, very friendly to one particular Tribe, is quite well established.

After all, as a publication, it has been second to none in it’s promotion of neocon interventionism and, more recently, the #NeverTrump ‘movement’.

In the current issue is an article on T. S. Eliot by (ahem) Marjorie Perloff, a Professor of Humanities at Stanford University. (Jews are approximately 2% of the general population of the U.S., but account for a wildly disproportionate percentage of faculty on U.S. campuses, and more significantly, account for approximately 25% of the student bodies of elite universities. In terms of faculty, I suspect that percentage is higher amongst the humanities and soft sciences.)

Within it is this gem:

Indeed, comparing The Waste Land drafts with the final copy reminds us that when Eliot was good he was very, very good but when he was bad he could be quite horrid. No 20th century poet writing in English has written more memorable, more resonating, and brilliant poems than “Prufrock,” “Gerontion,” and The Waste Land, with “Portrait of a Lady,” “Preludes,” the Ariel Poems, Ash Wednesday, and Four Quartets coming in a close second. But Eliot, as this edition inadvertently makes clear, often compromised his genius by letting his innate snobbery, his schoolboy nastiness, and his inveterate racism hold sway.

In the 1960s, when I was in graduate school, the quatrain poems, especially “A Cooking Egg” and “Sweeney Among the Nightingales,” were widely studied and admired for their condensation and reinvention of so much difficult classical source material. But reading the quatrain poems here with fresh eyes, and noting that those grotesque mechanized humans who look and behave like zoo animals have names like “Apeneck Sweeney,” “Rachel née Rabinovitch,” and “Sir Ferdinand Klein,” I find myself less than enchanted.

Perloff quotes from “Dirge,” a 1921 draft for The Waste Land, the first stanza of which reads:

Full fathom five your Bleistein lies
Under the flatfish and the squids.
Graves’ Disease in a dead jew’s eyes!
When the crabs have eat the lids.
Lower than the wharf rats dive
Though he suffer a sea-change
Still expensive rich and strange.

Such protestations are coming not from Mother Jones or Salon, but from one of the two preeminent ‘conservative’ publications in the U.S.

To which I would reply: Don’t read Eliot then.

G-d forbid a Gentile Christian ‘notice things’ about Jews who have come to live in a Christian country and inhabit that Christian country’s cultural space.

This entry was posted in Jewish, Literature, White Identity. Bookmark the permalink.