English 1022E Lecture Notes - Eugenius Warming, Fisher King

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16 Nov 2011
First Lecture on T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland
March 8, 2011
-In order to give us a collapsed view of the wasteland and to see the different elements
of the wasteland
-Montage technique used. Where one piece of film is given to us and then a splice that
is very different; we have to see how the two connect.
-Symbolism ; certainly has components of this
-Riddling quality of this story demands that we piece it together
-Self reflexivity: this poem raises questions as to who the narrator is, what is the story
that is being told
-This is the first poem not to have an identifiable speaker. It does not have a
narrator. It’s very impersonal to hear all these random voices.
-Emotional apathy of worship; annoy the middle classes. Eliot is creating a whole
persona for the writer. SOmeone who considers himself superior to ordinary
people. Someone who has special insight, intelligence, education that allows
them to see things ordinary people can’t
-Tone of condescension that often appears in modernist art. We don’t like to be
made to feel stupid. The kind of tone like “you can never really understand this”
this is the sense you get in the wasteland.
-Privileged man with a privileged perspective. Strong component of this in
modernist writing
-line 60: arrogance and condescension of ordinary people
-“Under the brown fog a crowd flowed over London bridge” this is making the
crowd the same status as water that flows under the bridge
-Urban modernity. The masses
-Faceless multitude of stupid people, can not see what is happening to him.
-Boring public working life, private life. Whatever vitality you have is in your
private life.
-Divided into 5 sections
-Sections 2 and 3 focus on the problems of human relationships and sexuality
(Lawrence, sees sexuality as the base for social problems)
-Section 4 “death by water” suggests that a confrontation/negation with death is
necessary if people are to regain their spiritual integrity.
-Final section suggests the nature of a cure. The thunder speaks in sanscrit and It says
that you need charity, love, compassion, self restraint. Those are the values that will
cure the wasteland.
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