I wrote a letter to the Editor of the Statesman Calcutta in response to an article by Naina Dey.
My letter is published in today's Statesman.
Naina Dey has been unduly harsh on T.S. Eliot in her article ‘An unexpected arrival……….. and departure’ in 8th DAY of today’s Statesman. Tom never knew what hit him when he married Vivienne in 1915 after a brief courtship. It was a secretive affair and their parents were not informed about it. Vivienne’s mother had previously cancelled her daughter’s wedding to a gentleman approved by her father, believing her chronically sick daughter was not fit to marry and bear children. Tom was not aware of this and specially her menstrual disorder that made Vivienne surreptitiously take away the bedsheets home to be washed and returned whenever they spent a night at their friend’s.
Virginia Woolf was at her sarcastic best when she speaks of Vivienne as ‘to bear her on one’s shoulders, biting, wriggling, raving, scratching, unwholesome, powdered, insane, yet sane to the point of insanity, reading his letters, thrusting herself on us, coming in wavering, trembling.’ This memorable sentence ends by calling Vivienne ‘bag of ferrets’.
There have been attempts, notably by Seymour-Jones, to blame Eliot’s homosexuality both before and during the marriage as the chief cause of the marital breakdown. But Eliot’s homosexuality has never been proven. It remains a conjecture.
Bertrand Russell’s involvement with Eliot’s has been commented upon quite extensively. He believed he was helping two young people for whom he professed an ever-increasing affection and admiration. He sexually exploited the opportunity and later on was horrified and disgusted with his own behaviour.