Eeldrop and Appleplex – A Short Story by T S Eliot
I first studied T S Eliot when I was in primary school, namely his poetry on cats from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Much much later, while in university, came the study of The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, The Wasteland, and the Four Quartet. Personally, I never really took to Eliot (save for his cat poems – they’re a joy to read!), but this was mostly because I didn’t care for the dried-up philosophy that was prominant among the moderns. As indiviual pieces these poems were fun to pick apart in order to discover the layers of meaning that the poet intended. However, it wasn’t until fairly recently, when looking for something new to read for THE LOST GENERATION tour held by the Classic Circuit, that I came across the only short story ever written by T S Eliot – Eeldrop and Appleplex.
When first I read this title I thought of something fantastical, but then it struck me that that would be quite unlike Eliot. A brief reading of another person’s review had me approaching the short story rather warily when it claimed to know why it was the only short story Eliot ever wrote – simply because he didn’t know how to write one! Did I think so too? In short, yes. In long, here goes…
The story is this; two men from different fields of academics, though from the same social background, take up an apartment together in a rather seedy yet quiet section of London. An incident of a man being taken to a nearby police station triggers off a conversation that dwells on social classes and stereotypes. End of story. You can see why it doesn’t do well as a short story! I kept wondering why Eliot simply didn’t write and essay of his thoughts and ideas on social class. All he did was use the short story as a platform and he didn’t do it at all well.
The ideas are not uncommon to the times. While I have to admit that my mind was half asleep while I read this story, it did impress upon me the decadent coversations that must have thrived in drawing rooms such as Eeldrop and Appleplex’s, in the early twentieth century, with each one trying to up the other with their intellectually charged statements on anything and everthing considered a good topic for a learned gentleman to converse in.
I cannot recommend or not recommend this short story. If you love Eliot you mind find this something look into. If you’re not particularly a fan, you’re not really missing much. However, if you have never tried Eliot before I would suggest you read his poems on cats, and then, of course, Alfred Prufrock and The Wasteland.
An online text on Eeldrop and Appleplex can be found here.
As part of THE LOST GENERATION Classic Circuit, allow me to point you in the direction of today’s fellow-posters – Nonsuch Book (on The Beautiful and Damned by F Scott Fitzgerald) and bibliographing (on Lucy Church Amiably by Gertrude Steine) and the main event itself.
Thank you for stopping by!