The Waste Land and Other Poems (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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The Waste Land and Other Poems, by T. S. Eliot, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble ...
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The Waste Land and Other Poems (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

The Waste Land and Other Poems, by T. S. Eliot, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Considered the most important poem of the twentieth century, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land is an oblique and fascinating view of the hopelessness and confusion of purpose in modern Western civilization. Published in 1922—the same year as Joyce’s equally monumental UlyssesThe Waste Land is a series of fragmentary dramatic monologues and cultural quotations that crossfade into one another. Eliot believed that this style best represented the fragmentation of society, and his poem portrays a sterile world of panicky fears and barren lusts, and of human beings waiting for some sign or promise of redemption. Mirroring the destruction and disillusionment of World War I, The Waste Land had the effect of a bomb exploded in a genteel drawing room, just as its author intended.

This volume also includes Prufrock and Other Observations (1917) and Poems (1919). Prufrock contains the poem that first put Eliot on the map, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” in which the title character is tormented by the difficulty of articulating his complex feelings. Among other masterpieces, Poems features "Gerontion," a meditative interior monologue in blank verse—a poem like none before it in the English language.

Randy Malamud is Professor of English and Associate Chair of the department at Georgia State University. His specialty is modern literature, and he has written three books and numerous articles about T. S. Eliot.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593082796
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 3/1/2005
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 72,231
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Randy Malamud is Professor of English and Associate Chair of the department at Georgia State University. His specialty is modern literature, and he has written three books and numerous articles about T. S. Eliot.
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Read an Excerpt

From Randy Malamud’s Introduction to The Waste Land and Other Poems

If we regard Eliot’s first two collections as thesis/antithesis, then the synthesis was accompanied by (and probably in many ways facilitated by) a personal breakdown in 1921. The Waste Land is a record of the poet’s collapse, as well as the sign of his recovery. As he traveled back from Switzerland, where he had undergone treatment, to resume his life in England, Eliot left a draft of the poem in Paris for Ezra Pound to edit. The poem records a nervous breakdown, but more importantly it recounts how the poet imposes a sense of order, coherence, and direction on the cacophonous chaos of the breakdown.

Explicitly, the breakdown in The Waste Land is meant to be the breakdown of Europe, but increasingly critics have come to realize that it is also the very personal account of Eliot’s own psychological distress. In part III, for example, he writes, “‘On Margate Sands. / I can connect / Nothing with nothing.’” The beach at Margate was where Eliot had vacationed, following a friend’s advice, in an attempt to avert his breakdown; but the holiday did not ameliorate his situation and prompted him to seek the therapeutic assistance of a Lausanne psychologist, Dr. Henri Vittoz. And when the voice of the poem states (in an unusual first-person address) in line 182, “By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept . . .” Eliot is describing the simple, powerful nadir of his breakdown: Leman is the old name for Lake Geneva, which Lausanne overlooks. Although Eliot always resisted autobiographical readings of art, the poem inescapably invites such readings. In the closing lines, when Eliot writes “These fragments I have shored against my ruins,” it seems impossible not to read that as a description of how Eliot’s embrace and desperate association of the shards that comprise the poem have helped to stave off his psychological “ruins.” The act of assembling these pieces of the European cultural tradition served as a bulwark against the intellectual collapse—in both his public and private worlds—that seemed so imminent.

On the national level, the breakdown Eliot envisioned was a consequence of the state of Europe during and after the Great War. More personally, the poem can be read as an account from the trenches of a poet who, though he didn’t actually fight in that war, fought and survived his own metaphorical war. (Critics have speculated that Virginia Woolf’s Septimus Smith, the shell-shocked poet manqué in Mrs. Dalloway, was at least loosely inspired by her erstwhile friend Tom.)

The Waste Land achieves a synthesis between the free-floating observations of Prufrock and the anguished, surreal pretensions of Poems 1920. The philosophical/intellectual praxis of Eliot’s modern epic is less gratuitous, and more pragmatic, than what he propounded in his previous collection—still difficult and harsh, certainly, but in a way that lent itself (at least for Eliot’s initiates, his devotees) to solving, working through. If Poems 1920 was (and was meant to be) off-putting, The Waste Land was somehow, despite itself, addictively compelling. The themes, the tropes, the images, the aesthetic that Eliot created in that poem are still going strong, inescapably etched into our cultural consciousness nearly a century later. (For example, it is virtually impossible to read any newspaper in any April without a headline recalling that it is “the cruelest month.”) Eliot postulated that the modern landscape looked harsh, hostile, crazy, fragmented, with the monuments of the past tormenting us amid our present unworthiness and inadequacy, and apparently he was right.

A first-time reader confronted with The Waste Land must determine, at the outset, how to read the poem: how to assimilate it and make sense of it. It is, of course, “modern,” so one approaches it with the same understanding of modern aesthetics that one brings to Picasso’s cubism, or Stravinsky’s symphonies, or Diaghilev’s dance. One allows that the apparent chaos of the work, the difficulty, the excess, is in some way mimetic of the dazzling and sometimes incoherent world outside; and also that things will not be presented in a neat, clear narrative structure, because anything too conventional or too easily accessible would be consequently trite—one must work hard to glean important insights from the modern zeitgeist. Modernists believed that the more complex a text is, the more likely it is to do justice to the complexity of the world outside, a world that in the space of one generation is awakening to cinema, telephones, automobiles, airplanes, world war, and so forth.

The poem suggests many schemes or models—probably far too many—that offer aids to comprehension. Some of these come from Eliot’s own critical apparatus: The notes at the end of the poem, for example, promise insights. The endnotes were not included with the first two periodical publications of the poem—in The Criterion (London) in October 1922 and in The Dial (New York) the next month; they appeared only with the first book edition. Eliot once said that the publishers of this edition “wanted a larger volume and the notes were the only available matter,” and in a 1957 lecture he referred to them as a “remarkable exposition of bogus scholarship.” In fact, the notes vary greatly in relevance and usefulness.

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 116 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Astounding modernist poetry!

    One of the smallest of the B&N Classics, The Waste Land and Other Poems nevertheless contains some of the best poetry of the 20th century and, quite frankly, of all time. Eliot's Ezra Pound-inspired style utterly enhances the cold, sterile, occasionally Kafkaesque mood of his early poetry, and this volume contains Eliot's preeminent early work: "Prufrock and Other Observations," "Poems 1920," and, of course, "The Waste Land," a masterpiece of modernist literature. Highly influential even today, Eliot's cynical description of a cold, harsh modern world raises pertinent philisophical questions about the human condition, as well as our world today. Eliot's penetrating observations are enhanced by his brusque and often aloof style of poetry, a style punctuated by significant pauses and characterized by short, fragmented lines, as well as varying rhyme scheme (when applicable) and diverse meter. This little book provides an excellent introduction to T.S. Eliot in general, but "The Waste Land" alone is worth your money. Absolutely influential and simply stunning--oh, and Eliot's vocabulary is masterful!

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    We don't see the like, haven't for years,and probably won't again.

    THIS is poetry, and very little even approaching it has been written in the past several decades. Hard work, years of it, went into the writing, and luckily several good critics have written on Eliot's work and have explicated, amplifying the reader's experience.

    If you're looking for rawness, explicit sex, self-absorbed confessionals, random ambiguity and "It can mean one thing to you and something else to me, that's why it's so great," don't even open the book. Eliot wrote distilled thought in precisely appropriate words and language, and in rhythms in the text as deep as ground waves in the sea.

    Much of the material he uses or refers to in his work is no longer part of anyone's intellectual repertoire today, except academics'. But books about his poetry will fill in those blanks. The work is worth it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2012

    The Poems are GREAT, The Formatting Of The E-Book Is Bad

    I am a big fan of Eliot, but I found the formatting of this book frustrating. I really wanted to have a collection of his works for my Nook, so I thought this would work. After getting it, I have found the formatting of the poems frustrating. I wish someone would fix this.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2001

    the quintessential modern poet

    t.s. eliot was doubtlessly the greatest poet of the twentieth century. with a commanding knowledge of over 8 different languages, more than 6 of which appear in 'the waste land,' his poetry is a testament to his brilliance. only he could allude to 'tristan und isolde' and 'hamlet' and 'london bridge is falling down' in the same poem.....

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2000

    great

    prufrock and the wasteland have to be the finest work produced by eliot, and it is great to see them collected in this inexpensive, short collection.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012

    ????????

    Is this good for 13 year olds??????????????

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A few of the best poems ever written

    By the title itself, this collection contains two poems that every English-speaking poet must read: "The Waste Land" and "Prufrock." Eliot's masterpieces rank him among the best poets of his language.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Good Work

    This is an awesome collection to have in one's own library.

    Everyone should own this work, along with Ohio Blue Tips by Jeanne E. Clark, The Photos In The Closet by Daniel E. Lopez, and works by Alison Townsend.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2008

    A reviewer

    This book encloses some of the most wonderful rhyming poetry you will ever read. From 'The Wasteland', an interesting poem about what the world is like and has become, to a poem written in French about a lazy waiter, every verse in this book deserves to be read by poetry enthusiasts of all kinds.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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