Social activity The MEB book club: The waste land by T.S Eliot
This autumn we will read the poem "The waste land" by T.S. Eliot.
Welcome to the book club meeting today!
About the poem
The Waste Land is a poem by T. S. Eliot, widely regarded as one of the most important poems of the 20th century and a central work of modernist poetry. Published 100 years ago, in 1922, the 434-line poem first appeared in the United Kingdom in the October issue of Eliot's The Criterion. Among its famous phrases are "April is the cruellest month", "I will show you fear in a handful of dust", and the Sanskrit mantra "Shantih shantih shantih".
Eliot's poem combines the legend of the Holy Grail and the Fisher King with vignettes of contemporary British society. Eliot employs many literary and cultural allusions from the Western canon such as Ovid's Metamorphoses and Dante's Divine Comedy, as well as Shakespeare, Buddhism, and the Hindu Upanishads. The poem shifts between voices of satire and prophecy featuring abrupt and unannounced changes of speaker, location, and time and conjuring a vast and dissonant range of cultures and literatures.
The poem is divided into five sections. The first, "The Burial of the Dead", introduces the diverse themes of disillusionment and despair. The second, "A Game of Chess", employs alternating narrations, in which vignettes of several characters 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, "Death by Water", which includes a brief lyrical petition, the culminating fifth section, "What the Thunder Said", concludes with an image of judgment.
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