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ISBN:0385499930
Author: Carole Seymour-Jones
ISBN13: 978-0385499934
Title: Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife of T. S. Eliot
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Language: English
Category: History and Criticism
Publisher: Anchor (October 14, 2003)
Pages: 736

Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife of T. S. Eliot by Carole Seymour-Jones



Carole Seymour-Jones was born in North Wales. Educated at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and Sussex University, she became the acclaimed biographer of Beatrice Webb, Simone de Beauvoir and Vivienne Eliot, while her most recent book examined the life of Anglo-French SOE agent Pearl Witherington. She cited fellow biographers Richard Holmes and Hermione Lee, plus historian Antony Beevor, among her influe Carole Seymour-Jones was born in North Wales

On first acquaintance it seemed to Eliot that Vivienne came from a social background equivalent to his own in New England, although to an English aristocrat such as Bertrand Russell, Vivienne, only two generations away from her roots in trade, seemed 'a little vulgar'. In Eliot's opinion, Russell undermined his wife's mental health: 'He has done evil,' he wrote to Ottoline Morrell, Russell's former mistress. It became common literary gossip, as Evelyn Waugh recorded in his diary on 21 July 1955, 'that Mrs T. S. Eliot's insanity sprang from her seduction and desertion by Bertrand Russell'. At this stage Eliot knew little of Russell's private life. It is of course possible that the relationship which developed between Vivienne and Bertie was as innocent as Eliot apparently assumed, or that Eliot was a cuckold.

By the time Vivienne Eliot was committed to an asylum for what would be the final nine years of her life, she had been abandoned by her husband . Eliot and shunned by literary London. Yet Vivienne was neither insane nor insignificant. Her distinctive voice can be heard in his poetry. And paradoxically, it was the unhappiness of the Eliots’ marriage that inspired some of the poet’s most distinguished work, from The Family Reunion to The Waste.

by Carole Seymour-Jones. Maurice Haigh-Wood, Vivienne Eliot's brother, shortly before his death. By the time she was committed to an asylum in 1938, five years after T. Eliot deserted her, Vivienne Eliot was a lonely, distraught figure. Shunned by literary London, she was the "neurotic" wife whom Eliot had left behind.

portrait of Vivienne is fair, sympathetic, and well-supported, making her a far more real and vivid figure than in most studies of Eliot. By the time Vivienne Eliot was committed to an asylum for what would be the final nine years of her life, she had been abandoned by her husband . This book contains a lot of information about . Eliot and his first wife, but perhaps too much. 6 people found this helpful.

Carole Seymour-Jones’s biography of Eliot’s first wife adds further notes toward the definition of her mysterious spouse, and explores a fresh cache of bisexual Bloomsbury gossip that amplifies the portrait of him. Viv predeceased Tom by eighteen years, a creatively fallow period also covered by the book but in less detail. Painted Shadow has been denigrated as part of a campaign against Eliot, but the campaign it exposes is the one to ignore his first wife, presented here as his troublesome muse. The new book disagrees on several points with Lyndall Gordon’s semi-authorized life of the poet,1 in which Vivienne has only half the index space given to Emily Hale, Eliot’s Bostonian friend whose in-person connection with him was immeasurably less than that of the tenacious Englishwoman with whom he managed to live for most of the time between their.

The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife of . Eliot, and the Long-Suppressed Truth About Her Influence on His Genius. by Carole Seymour-Jones. Though she relies on indirect evidence and more than a little speculation, and though she goes on much too long, Seymour-Jones makes her case.

The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife. of T. Eliot, and the Long-Suppressed Truth About Her Influence. Seymour-Jones proposes that, until her book, there has been a conspiracy to obliterate, to stigmatize as insane, the woman with whom Eliot lived in marriage from 1915 until 1933, when, returning from a year of lecturing and teaching in America, he left her. The most absorbing pages of ''Painted Shadow'' trace the subsequent years, in which Vivienne tried to re-establish contact with her husband until her brother, Maurice Haigh-Wood, had her committed to an asylum in 1938. Seymour-Jones, whose previous books include a life of Beatrice Webb and a history of the World . does not have the literary equipment to write freshly about such matters. Her dealings with Eliot's poetry are almost always unfortunate.

Bantam, Doubleday, Dell (US) ISBN 0-385-49992-2). This outstanding biography is the first life of Vivienne Eliot. It places her at the centre of T. Eliot's life for almost two decades and is the first full-length portrait of the marriage and its influence on both his emotional state and his work. Carole Seymour-Jones believes that it cannot be understood without reference to his troubled marriage and her book opens the way to a new understanding of Eliot's poetry. In addition she shows, for the first time from Vivienne's point of view, how this spontaneous, loving, but fragile woman was trapped and ultimately destroyed by a disastrous marriage. Carole Seymour-Jones was born in Wales and educated at Oxford University.

By the time Vivienne Eliot was committed to an asylum for what would be the final nine years of her life, she had been abandoned by her husband T.S. Eliot and shunned by literary London. Yet Vivienne was neither insane nor insignificant. She generously collaborated in her husband’s literary efforts, taking dictation, editing his drafts, and writing articles for his magazine, Criterion. Her distinctive voice can be heard in his poetry. And paradoxically, it was the unhappiness of the Eliots’ marriage that inspired some of the poet’s most distinguished work, from The Family Reunion to The Waste Land. This first biography ever written about Vivienne draws on hundreds of previously unpublished papers, journals and letters to portray a spontaneous, loving, but fragile woman who had an important influence on her husband’s work, as well as a great poet whose behavior was hampered by psychological and sexual impulses he could not fully acknowledge. Intriguing and provocative, Painted Shadow gracefully rescues Vivienne Eliot from undeserved obscurity, and is indispensable for anyone wishing to understand T.S. Eliot, Vivienne, or the world in which they traveled.
Reviews: 7
Punind
A fascinating read, revealing the tragic relationship between an adored and celebrated husband and the eclipsed and wasted life of a wife who possessed intelligence and promise. The abuses of a system that allowed "difficult"
spouses to be locked out of sight in asylums will both enrage the reader and make his/her blood run cold.
Jack
This book, with much more detail than I wanted to know, opens up the "secret" life of Eliot as no other writer has done. Vivienne is no sympathetic character here, but she clearly did not deserve the way she was treated by Tom and his buddies. While he needed to keep his homosexuality in the closet for good reasons, it was a criminal offense, he could have managed to contain his hatred of women physically by leaving her soon after the marriage. It does not appear that he used the marriage as camouflage, but he certainly behaved as if he did. I suppose one can defend the oversupply of detail as needed because her subject is still "controversial," why I do not know. The book can also be recommended as a depressing picture of the treatment of mentally ill people at that time. And her portrayal of the social set to which they belonged reminds me of nothing so much as the twitter society of today's teenagers, all gossip and drama queen behavior, floating at a level of pampered imbecility.
Felolune
I was interested in Eliot's first wife so I ordered this book after watching the wonderful film "Tom and Viv".This book contains a lot of information about T.S. Eliot and his first wife, but perhaps too much. It was hard keeping my attention and remembering all the places and personalities, Perhaps this book was written for scholars but for the general reader I would not recommend it.
ndup
Forever changed the way I see T.S. Eliot's life and poetry. Still remains the definitive biography of both Vivenne and T.S.
Raelin
Carole Seymour-Jones has created a ponderous tome without a great deal of innuendo. She has allowed the reader, if willing to slog through the mire, an opportunity to come to their own conclusions about the marriage of Vivienne and Thomas Stearns Eliot. Ample use of largely unedited letters, diaries and detailed sources allow a slowly emerging picture of a completely dysfunctional marriage built on lies and misrepresentations on all sides. Ms. Seymour-Jones clearly has a bias towards Vivienne Eliot, yet I would be naive to believe that Vivienne was an entirely hapless victim in the dreadfully destructive relationship. There is little doubt of T.S. Eliot's homosexual leanings in the excerpted letters to Ezra Pound, and the infidelities that occurred on both sides are obvious. Perhaps the most disturbing picture that emerges was the absolute power of Vivienne's devotion to a man that clearly was not dedicated to her in any way. This inequitable situation eventually led to a schism in her personality that led to frank mental illness. Her plight was also compounded by medical problems that ravaged her from youth, and were untreatable in her lifetime. Her condition was treated with bromide, a poisonous neurotoxin that was a widely used medicine at the time. The constellation of characters (or villains) that made up the British literary intelligentsia, including the Bloomsbury Group is highlighted as well, including Bertrand Russell, Lady Violet Ottoline, Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, and Ford Maddox Ford. Let's just say that after you have read this book, the "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" will never sound as sweet.
ZEr0
I read the book in 2002 while living temporarily in London. I disagree with critics who pan this biography, and say instead that it is a refreshing thing that this woman, long in the grave ( I blame TS Eliot in part), has finally been given a chance to be shown as a real woman, as something other than a footnote of Eliot's fame. What struck a chord with me was, in part, the unveiling of a tricky malfeasance by TS Eliot and Vivienne's brother. If she went insane, it was the two of these men who drove her into the asylum!

The woman was brilliant in her own right as a writer, reviewer, as well as editor and advisor (along with Pound) to TS as he composed the rantings that would become The Wasteland. In fact, I have a hunch that part of the writing is hers, not TS. As a woman who once suffered from early peri-menopause, I can say that Vivienne was likely such a sufferer. In her day, we did not help these women because we chose to lump all such "female complaints" as crazy, hypochondriac ravings, or as manipulative. I think the book shows the pitiable state she was in at the end of her life, and I take her behaviour to be at worst sad and at best brave. Seymour-Jones wrote a masterful biography. Those who moan on and on about its being ponderous or whining are simply WRONG. A biography does not need to be simply scholarly. Sometimes being empathetic is enough.