‘The Waste Land’ is the early Modernist poem classic. T. S. Eliot was striving to understand a shattered world post WWI and
‘The Waste Land’ is the early Modernist poem classic. T. S. Eliot was striving to understand a shattered world post WWI and how the inherited cultural knowledge could offer direction or solace in a broken, mechanistic world. His use of literary and cultural allusions may feel overwhelming at first, but an open mind and supportive discussion will illuminate this gorgeous poem.
At this moment of Modernism, the urge was to separate from the oppressing past (‘Make it new!’ charged Ezra Pound, Eliot’s mentor) but this becomes a double gesture. The attempt to repress or break free from the past ends up haunting the writers and thinkers of the modern period—until they negotiate a link with the myths and images of the past that threatened. ‘Waste Land’ demonstrates this in the specific allusions to past works and in its melding of characters of the past and the present (Cleopatra becoming a modern working woman in ‘A Game of Chess’ for example) as well as the use of myth to reconnect our lost modern psyche to a past of ritual and meaning.
The experience of ‘The Waste Land’ combines a dig through allusions to a sense of what we hear: the journey is impressionistic. Eliot struggles to rediscover primitive, authentic emotion against the falseness of modern life. He employs the poetic technique of multiplying references (thinking of form of sedimentary rock—the layers evoking ages but holding discordant impressions together).
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
—from The Burial of the Dead
Tuesdays 7:00-9:00; I plan to offer a five meeting study of Four Quartets in this same time slot starting October 29 running until the end of November.
To register, please use the paypal button below to pay £70 for this three meeting study. Upon receipt of payment, I will send you the opening notes, resources and preparation suggestions.
The shorter Salon format is a wonderful way to experience the Salon briefly. As we prepare for the fall course offerings, this study will give participants the opportunity to energise the brain with provocative images and philosophical considerations on the tragedy of humanity in the aftermath of WWI.
If you have any questions about this study, please contact us.