A Baedeker & an Embarrassment

When I lived in England, I used The Waste Land as a sort of Baedeker as I meandered about London; I grew to know the city intimately—especially those churches built in the aftermath of the Great Fire (1666). One of the pieces I’ve included here, “‘Where the Tower Met the Night’: T S Eliot’s Wasted Churches,” developed, in part, from those city wanderings. The paper focuses on the significance of the City churches Eliot wrote of when the buildings were under threat of demolition prior to commercial development. To accompany the essay, I’d compiled, poorly, a series of illustrations of those City churches, then and now.*

I’d arranged to share the paper at a conference seminar. I emailed it to all seminar members well in advance of the due date. I didn’t hear a peep back (not that I expected to). On the day of the seminar, its leader introduced herself to me and handed me a manila envelope. She asked me to not look in the envelope until after the seminar. She asked that I not look because the envelope contained galley proofs of her forthcoming book about literature and heritage. It turned out that some of her research paralleled my own. We had (inadvertently) worked on the same research topic. I was embarrassed, she was gracious (and she later included a note on my seminar presentation in her text). I still think on, and appreciate, her kindness and collegiality.

* I’ve just found that file, so I am reuniting it, here, with the Eliot essay.

FYI: Here are two terrific sites for more info on the City of London churches:
Love’s Guide to the Church Bells of the City of London
The Friends of the City Churches

A T. S. Eliot Assortment

Just wanted to share three T. S. Eliot-related items:

1. Every once in a while, I like to throw a listserv reminder out there:

The T. S. Eliot listserv (TSE) is still going, it’s sponsored by U of Missouri, remains a viable, vibrant online community. Its members include non-academics, poets, students, tenured academics, retirees, and independent scholars. If you’d like to question, challenge, argue, or otherwise “unpack” Eliot’s poetry, plays, or criticism, know that new voices are always appreciated; if you’d like to join the TSE listerv, visit this page.

2. Finally, there is a T.S.Eliot.com!

Faber & Faber (Eliot’s publisher / employer) has created a website devoted to the man. Included on the site: full text/excerpts from his poems and criticism, matters related to his plays, previously unpublished letters, and more. Faber presents a wonderful resource that I imagine anyone reading Eliot would find worthwhile. (I wish I’d have had this kind of resource when I first began reading TSE. But then, no WWW in the 1980s)

3. The International T. S. Eliot Summer School looks great (again)

The annual T. S. Eliot international summer school, hosted by UCL’s Institute of English Studies, has a promising program for 2017 as well as an exciting list of guest speakers. The offerings include poetry readings, trips to sites associated with Eliot, seminars on Eliot’s work, etc. There’s also a walking tour of Eliot’s London (I sigh at this. Twenty years ago I created a just such a walking tour that I “shared” with curious/patient friends and family members).

The IES/UCL introduced the T. S. Eliot Summer School in 2009. For a number of personal and professional reasons, I’ve never attended, which is a shame. It’s certainly on the bucket list (if you will). If you have the time, the cash, and the passion for T.S.E., why not go? Do it for those of us who can’t.

Ovid’s Maenads

An essay that focuses on Bacchantes in three tales of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which   Maenads, or Maenad-like women, typify the potential for feminine madness within and without the bounds of culture. You can find the essay here.

  • “under revision” caveat here

Firenze (a card)

In Florence, you can easily sate your appetite for art and beauty simply walking the streets–the public art and the architecture are wondrous. But are you really, truly going to Florence and not see the Uffizi? The Accademia? Santa Croce? Ad inf.? To be sure, the cost of entry to these, and other, places can add up–unless you have a Firenze Card. The card gives you access to 72 museums in 72 hours for 72 Euros (about $76 as of writing). The card’s biggest benefit? No queuing or reservations–and that priority access itself is worth the price of the card. To be honest, I generally avoid buying visitor cards like this as it makes me feel restricted and rushed. My dad actually talked me into getting the card on my last visit, and I certainly do not regret it. So, if you’re heading for Florence in the near future, and if you feel that the public displays and the building facades don’t quite quench your desire, I absolutely recommend the Firenze Card.



Here’s my traveling companion, by the way, measuring up my own card.



Note: My endorsement is totally voluntary and it’s intended as advice only.