English 1022 Lecture on "The Wasteland"
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Second Lecture on T.S Eliot’s “The Wasteland” March 10, 2011
-Eliot is hiding behind Tarisius
-Dante; suggestion is that the typist and the young man are among the lowest
inhabitants of the wasteland
-Tarisius is a detached observer, someone with knowledge of the past, present and
future. He is blind but capable of insight because of this gift from Job. He can see the
deep structures that are operating here, operating beneath the surface. This links us to
another modernist impulse which we’ve seen in Freud: the idea that all people have the
Oedipus complex. All literature fits into the same patterns we saw with Northrop Frye.
That the fisher King is a universal figure.
-All places have the same kind of myths
-Yes, but let’s step back from that .
-Tarisius experienced the sex life of a woman and a man, but at the end of the day he’s
still a man although it claims that he has a double perspective
-How detached is it from Eliot? Not very. If you think about Eliot you can easily
see that Tarisius is a projection of his anxieties, the way he came to think of
himself as a writer.
-Eliot is purported to have some homosexual experiences; we know that he had
an extremely unhappy marriage to his first wife. He liked to think of himself as
prematurely old. He invented the persona of “old possum” so he liked to think of
himself as a wise old man
-There’s a lot of Eliot we can see in Tarisius, and why Eliot picked this character over
-Modernism was aggressively, openly interested in sexuality. Lawrence is obsessed
with heterosexuality. This was the era still of coersive heterosexuality; if you found that
you had other desires, you did your best to conceal that. E.M Forster and Virginia Woolf
did precisely that.
-Eliot viewed homosexuality as part of the mulez of the Wasteland. Saw it as something
that was infertile at heart and part of the issue of infertility, sterility of the Wasteland.
-How does Eliot go about depicting the sexual mulez that he takes as a symptom of a
larger mulez in society as a whole.
-He does this through Two techniques:
-Focuses on unhappy relationships in the past and present. He puts them into a
montage relationship; asks us to see ‘what’s the connection between that story
and the one told right after it?’
-Tristram and Isolde: Unhappy love story that they both die in the end.
Little snatch of German that translates to “Fresh blows the wind to the
homeland, my Irish child, where are you waiting” song sung by the sailor
taking Isolde and Tristram to meet her betrothed. But it’s about his
girlfriend that he’s leaving behind in Ireland; so there’s another love story
there. The next cut is stitched in here, and we need to see the
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