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The Waste Land

The Waste Land

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by T. S. Eliot
     
 

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"April is the cruelest month, breeding

lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

memory and desire, stirring

dull roots with spring rain."

--- T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

The Waste Land is a long poem by T. S. Eliot. It is widely regarded as one of the most important poems of the 20th century and a central text in Modernist poetry. Published in 1922,

Overview

"April is the cruelest month, breeding

lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

memory and desire, stirring

dull roots with spring rain."

--- T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

The Waste Land is a long poem by T. S. Eliot. It is widely regarded as one of the most important poems of the 20th century and a central text in Modernist poetry. Published in 1922, the 434-line poem first appeared in the United Kingdom in the October issue of The Criterion and in the United States in the November issue of The Dial. It was published in book form in December 1922. Among its famous phrases are "April is the cruellest month", "I will show you fear in a handful of dust", and the mantra in the Sanskrit language "Shantih shantih shantih".

Eliot's poem loosely follows the legend of the Holy Grail and the Fisher King combined with vignettes of contemporary British society. Eliot employs many literary and cultural allusions from the Western canon, Buddhism and the Hindu Upanishads. Because of this, critics and scholars regard the poem as obscure. The poem shifts between voices of satire and prophecy featuring abrupt and unannounced changes of speaker, location, and time and conjuring of a vast and dissonant range of cultures and literatures.

The poem's structure is divided into five sections. The first section, The Burial of the Dead, introduces the diverse themes of disillusionment and despair. The second, A Game of Chess, employs vignettes of several characters---alternating narrations---that address those themes experientially. The Fire Sermon, the third section, offers a philosophical meditation in relation to the imagery of death and views of self-denial in juxtaposition influenced by Augustine of Hippo and eastern religions. After a fourth section that includes a brief lyrical petition, the culminating fifth section, What the Thunder Said, concludes with an image of judgment.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Written when Eliot was working as a bank clerk and heavily edited by his friend Ezra Pound, 1922's The Waste Land could probably take the prize as the most important English-language poem of the 20th century. This 75th-anniversary edition includes the full text plus notes and an afterword by scholar/editor Christopher Ricks.
Booknews
Prints the first American edition (Boni & Liveright) of Eliot's most important work, accompanied by the editor's detailed annotations. Eliot's own notoriously inscrutable notes, placed at the end, are also annotated. The abundant explanatory material includes background on the poem's sources, composition, and publication history as well as 25 critical reviews and essays. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Times Literary Supplement
“We know of no other modern poet who can more adequately and movingly reveal to us the inextricable tangle of the sordid and the beautiful that make up life.”
Conrad Aiken
The Waste Land is unquestionably important, unquestionably brilliant…The poem must be taken—most invitingly offers itself—as a brilliant and kaleidoscopic confusion; as a series of sharp, discrete, slightly related perceptions and feelings, dramatically and lyrically presented, and violently juxtaposed…It shimmers, it suggests, it gives the desired strangeness…One of the most moving and original poems of our time.”
F. R. Leavis
“[An achievement] of the first importance for English poetry. In it a mind fully alive in the age compels a poetic triumph.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781530518944
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
03/18/2016
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
761,889
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.08(d)

What People are saying about this

Anthony Burgess
The Waste Land remains the best manifesto of modernism in poetry — a triumph of concision, eloquence, colloquialism, symbolism, cinematic cutting, collage of existing literature as well as popular song, all in the service of a kind of purgatorial philosophy, civilization was decaying, man was growing impotent, salvation lay in the injunctions of a Sanskrit Upanishad: "Give, sympathize, control." (Anthony Burgess, from One Man's Chorus)

Meet the Author

T. S. Eliot

Thomas Stearns Eliot OM (26 September 1888 - 4 January 1965) was a British, American-born essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic, and "one of the twentieth century's major poets". He immigrated to England in 1914 at age 25, settling, working and marrying there. He was eventually naturalised as a British subject in 1927 at age 39, renouncing his American citizenship.

Eliot attracted widespread attention for his poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1915), which is seen as a masterpiece of the Modernist movement. It was followed by some of the best-known poems in the English language, including The Waste Land (1922), The Hollow Men (1925), Ash Wednesday (1930), and Four Quartets (1945). He is also known for his seven plays, particularly Murder in the Cathedral (1935). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, "for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry."

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