Bruce's Reviews > The Waste Land and Other Poems

The Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. Eliot
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's review
Aug 17, 2010

it was amazing
Read in August, 2010

Although I have read “The Waste Land” a number of times, it has been a long time since I read it last, and I have never studied it very thoroughly, having become entranced with “Four Quartets” and devoted most of my time and attention to that magnificent poem. Reading TWL again now, I am once again impressed, however, with its imagery and wealth of allusions. Some of these allusions are ones I recognize, although many I do not. Nonetheless, I am impressed with its modernist mood of enervation and disenchantment, its sense of emotional exhaustion and existential dislocation. Reading it makes me want to study it in depth more carefully and to mine its implications. I shall.

Now, on December 20, 2010, I want to update this review, having just reread this book:

"I find it good from time to time to reread Eliot’s poetry. He is the spokesman for High Modernism and, although neither currently politically correct nor much in favor in the academy, he articulated a vision of the chaos and disintegration of the modern era and presented a startlingly original kind of poetry that inevitably influenced subsequent literature. I have many “favorites” among his poems; how can one not be captivated by “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, for example? “The Waste Land” is clearly considered by most people as his most important achievement, although it is not the verse that most appeals to me. But I am enchanted by Eliot’s allusiveness, by his erudition, by his understanding of culture as both fragmentary and pervasive. I return again and again to this seminal poem, always understanding more of it, always awed by its insights and comprehensiveness. Without knowing this poem, one cannot hope to fully appreciate what to me is his greatest achievement, the lovely and profound “Four Quartets” (not included in this present volume). This latter is one of my very favorite works in English literature – I have audio recordings of it by both Ted Hughes and Alec Guinness, each providing differing and intriguing perspectives – and I reread it or listen to it again at least every year. Eliot is a poet who can be and is both loved and loathed – he is politically conservative, religiously orthodox, elitist, and insufficiently appreciative, for many people, to cultural contributions outside the “dead white male” European tradition - but for anyone interested in literary theory or literary history, he cannot be ignored. I find his work intriguing and perennially compelling, always provocative and challenging, endlessly invigorating."
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04/06/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Trevor Another wonderful review. Someone once said in a class I was in that reading The Waste Land for the first time was like standing in front of a forty foot canvas with your nose up against the paint. You're too close to really 'see' anything, but even so you still know it is beautiful. I've heard both Hughes and Guinness reading The Waste Land, but not the Quartets - must track them down. Guinness's Waste Land is like listening to a symphony - what a remarkable talent he had.


Bruce I didn't know that Hughes and Guinness had readings available of The Waste Land and will try to find them. Thanks.


message 3: by Brit (new) - added it

Brit Cheung enchanted


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