Well that was a long title but I have multiple literature and academic news. I finished To Kill a Mockingbird in a pitch black garden on a damp bench. Foxes circled in the dark. As the story reached its climax with Scout and Jem being followed as they crossed the school yard alone, I too became spooked by paws padding the grass and rustlings in the oak tree above me. The neighbours were shouting in there phones again of bed bugs and daily itineraries. Not even the garden gives peace from bland, thought draining noises of the tenants around me.
The day before I sat on that bench in pouring rain and heard childrens squeals, a wet goose flying away. I read The Waste Land aloud to drown neighbour’s out. Tom said not even the mountains had silence or solitude (lines I shouted above the music of a mad neighbour. She shoves me into washing machines although she is not fully blind it is her excuse and once, I am told, threw her microwave out of the window in a rage. And I suspect it is her leaving shards of glass on my patch of soil I tiol to grow tea plants).
In the dark I read out loud too and was so overcome with wanting to be away from this, back in the stix, the words could only splutter down my fur coat describing Scout Finch dressed as a ham.
‘I read much of the night and go South in the Winter….’
So farewell to the Finches. It has dissapointed me a little that Go Set a Watchman is written in the third person so that it is now a narrative not the reality Mockingbird created. My only hope is there is moreof Boo Radley; if there were ever a character I wished I could make smile….
But from the stix of both fiction and my own life, I turn back to university. Tomorrow I visit the Bodleian Library at Oxford on the hunt of threads of poetry by Vivienne Eliot. The first wife of T S Eliot has been resigned to the wayside of the mad muse. And maybe my soft spot for Nadja led to a curiosity in the vivacious flapper that died in an asylum.
I was meant to be researching the theories of decadence in The Waste Land for my dissertation but while reading Eliot’s letters was intrigued by a letter from Vivienne to Virginia Woolf asking to visit while she was alone and ill. I started thinking how both were literary wives, writers themselves, both suffered with mental health problems and were left alone to recover. Unfortunately Virginia’s reply is not published. Considering she described Vivienne as a bag full of feerets around Tom’s neck I would be amused to read a response if any.
There was a worry that my dissertation was becoming a version of Jeremy Kyle goes to Bloomsbury. But I got wind that Vivienne wrote poetry. I begun to wonder if The Waste Land was actually more of a carcophony of personal anguishes than the reflection on post war London I initially read.
The more I read on Vivienne, mostly from Painted Shadow by Carol Seymour Jones, triggered fragments of the poem in my mind. It seemed to easily linked though. Too obviously implied.
Why is this poem from the 1920’s that can not be deciphered striking such a chord in me that also can’t be described in my lack of vocabulary? And what is the importance of Vivienne? I cringe at any sugguestions of muses. I actually regard her more of an anti-muse.She was suppressed, shut away, deemed as mad and yet revealing her this century as important is only highlighting the same points.
And yet she did write while married to Tom. I still feel she is in the Waste Land as much as Jean Verdenal, Eliots dearest relationship, ended by war. I still think she was a link to the writers of that era we forget or don’t bother with.
I don’t know….
Maybe her poetry was as god-awful as my essays but why ‘ suppress all that is suppressable even if that was a living being?
I hope visiting the Bod tomorrow (most likely on two hours sleep) will give me some answers on Vivienne the writer not the mad wife.