The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

May 28, 2013

May 28, 1888

So much energy has been spent on the mysteries of Eliot's disastrous first marriage, but surely this is not such a puzzle. She had the accomplishments of a Victorian lady. Her father had inherited property and was an artist. Vivienne Haigh-Wood (May 28, 1888 to January  22,1947) was pretty, bold, smart, and a good dancer. Although Eliot could never recall her appeal, later, it is not hard to imagine the ephemeral sexual urges that bring people together were the operant factors in their marriage. They were both young and ignorant of themselves and their bodies. Blame is wasted in these circumstances. We can't even blame T. S. Eliot for blaming Vivienne, for being herself, as he did in these lines from "Whispers of Immortality."

The sleek Brazilian jaguar
Does not in its arboreal gloom
Distil so rank a feline smell
As Grishkin in a drawing-room.

These are not the words of a man who does not care for women, they are the words of a man who is confused by the hormonal realities of the planet. A timid man who with a bit of better luck, might have well-sustained by a woman such as Vivienne.  She was bright enough to find an artistic fellow, smart, like her Dad, attractive. He needed a social crutch, an ornament on his arm, someone to dote on him. What could go wrong with that?

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