Thursday, September 18, 2008

Domestic strife ...

... Where Have You Gone, T.S. Eliot?.

Virginia Woolf, who knew a thing or two about mental illness, noted in her diary: "Vivienne! Was there ever such torture since life began! — to bear her on one's shoulders, biting, wriggling, raving, scratching, unwholesome, powdered, insane, yet sane to the point of insanity."

A quibble: Eliot (like C.S. Lewis) converted to Anglo-Catholicism, not Roman Catholicism. When I was in grade school we used to pray that Lewis would take the further step.


  1. Oops, I'll correct it on my copy. Thanks for pointing that out!

  2. Thought you really outdid yourself on this posting, Bill, when I read it yesterday. Great piece on a difficult duo. Utterly absorbing reading. Made my day. Reminded me of the condition he believed he had (and for which Vittoz seems to have treated him, "neurasthenia").


  3. Of course, for accuracy's sake, I should add that Eliot later decided it wasn't neurasthenia at all; rather, he concluded, he'd been hit with "aboulia" (from the French, aboulie). Thus, "on the advice of Ottoline Morrell and Julian Huxley," the sorta hypochondriac — to sway the least — returned to Dr. Roger Vittoz's clinic in Lausanne for further treatment.

    Source? Peter Akroyd, T. S. Eliot (1984).

    All things considered, if my parents had given me a name that spelled "toilet" backwards sans "s," I might be a little on the wonky side meself; it was Marshall McLuhan (a huge EliotiCan fan), after all, who noted, paraphrastically, in Understanding Media, "For the name of a man is a numbing blow from which he never recovers." (It was either MM or JJ, at any rate; should you require further accuracy or clarification on this point concerning my source/s, I shall happily supply same.)