T.S. Elliot’s “The Wasteland” and Modernism.
Elliot was both influenced by modernism and a reference of it. The dramatic change in form and content in literature (and human beliefs) of the last nineteenth century and the early twentieth century is noticeable in the poem. The Wasteland is also a reflection of the between wars years and also a prophecy for all that were to come. Elliot masters the form in the poem to create a sense of pessimism, decadence and fugacity. It is often said that his form is sometimes difficult to understand, but the wasteland itself is an exercise of uninteligelibility. The relevance of the poem lays in the presentation of the speaker (or speakers) and the development of their thoughts, along with its “exotic” imagery. Although some analogies may be drawn, the wasteland is so ambiguous that everything could mean everything else. This is well depicted by Elliot himself in the phrase that says: “You cannot say or guess, for you only know
A broken heap of pictures [where the sun gleams…]”
So Elliot writes a thought, utterance or writing (by him or everyone else) about how ambiguous is everything, and how little we know about even what we think we know. In this sense, he is pretty much like James Joyce, being his main representative example Ulysses.
The pessimistic view is understandable, the first and second world wars made catastrophic impacts among the population, and a sense of de-humanization and a lack of faith on god provoked what later was called as the “modern” man. The Wasteland only marks the beginning of what was to come, however is also remarkable that Elliot himself was a very pessimistic person, so his own influence reinforce the pessimistic view of the world or “the land” as “the waste land”.
“April is the cruelest month, breeding.”
He not only devalues spring as a subject of art as in classic times, he also laments the fact of the reproduction and the going on of life, so the real big deal in the wasteland is...
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