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Posts Tagged ‘The Waste Land

“These fragments I have shored against my ruins”*…

On its publication in 1922, T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” was not so well received: “so much waste paper,” opined The Guardian. But of course since then it has ascended into the canon. Four writers and scholars– Beci Carver, Jahan Ramazani, Robert Crawford, and David Barnes— explain why now “the poem is such a key landmark that all modern poets know it, whether they swerve around it, crash into it, or attempt to assimilate it.”

Though I do understand why people often see—and hear—“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” as inventing modern poetry in English, I think The Waste Land does so more comprehensively. It’s as if this poem can give anything—a cry, a list of place-names, a snatch of conversation, a Sanskrit word, a nursery rhyme, an echo—an almost infinite and carrying resonance that brings with it unforgettable intensity. Ezra Pound who, prior to editing The Waste Land,  had just been editing an English translation of an avant-garde collage-style French poem by Jean Cocteau, helped give the poem its intensity; but the words were Eliot’s.

… Pound’s editing was highly ethical in that he did not add or substitute words of his own; he just honed what Eliot had written. Eliot had learned from Pound’s bricolage style, but where Pound went on to go on and on and on, Eliot (with Pound’s editorial help) learned as a young poet just when to stop. That’s a great gift. So the poem exemplifies at once the way in which poetry can incorporate all kinds of diverse materials; yet it also constitutes a supreme example of poetic intensity. It’s quite a combination—and one from which innumerable poets (from Auden to Xu Zhimo and from MacDiarmid to Okigbo and beyond) have learned…

Robert Crawford

The appreciation in full at “The Most Important Poem of the 20th Century: On T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ at 100,” in @lithub.

* T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”

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As we muse on modernism, we might recall that it was on this date in 1966 that It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” premiered on CBS. The special, based on Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip and produced/animated by Bill Melendez, pre-empted My Three Sons and tied Bonanza as the top-rated program of the week. It has aired every year since, on network television until 2020, when Apple TV won the exclusive rights to the show.

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Reasons to worry…

F. Scott Fitzgerald with his wife, Zelda and their daughter, "Scottie"

Having headed East with a post featuring Lists of Note, it seems only right to return with one revisiting our old friend, Letters of Note, which features this missve from F. Scott Fitzgerald to his daughter:

La Paix, Rodgers’ Forge
Towson, Maryland

August 8, 1933

Dear Pie:

I feel very strongly about you doing duty. Would you give me a little more documentation about your reading in French? I am glad you are happy — but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed pages, they never really happen to you in life.

All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly. If there is such a volume in the camp library, will you ask Mrs. Tyson to let you look up a sonnet of Shakespeare’s in which the line occurs “Lillies that fester smell far worse than weeds.”

Have had no thoughts today, life seems composed of getting up aSaturday Evening Post story. I think of you, and always pleasantly; but if you call me “Pappy” again I am going to take the White Cat out and beat his bottom hard, six times for every time you are impertinent. Do you react to that?

I will arrange the camp bill.

Halfwit, I will conclude.

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Worry about. . .

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

With dearest love,

Daddy

P.S. My come-back to your calling me Pappy is christening you by the word Egg, which implies that you belong to a very rudimentary state of life and that I could break you up and crack you open at my will and I think it would be a word that would hang on if I ever told it to your contemporaries. “Egg Fitzgerald.” How would you like that to go through life with — “Eggie Fitzgerald” or “Bad Egg Fitzgerald” or any form that might occur to fertile minds? Try it once more and I swear to God I will hang it on you and it will be up to you to shake it off. Why borrow trouble?

Love anyhow.

 

As we wonder if Fitzgerald actually used the lanyard that Scottie wove, we might recall that it was on this date in 1917 that Virginia and Leonard Woolf founded the Hogarth Press, named for their house on Richmond, where they launched the endeavor.  Originally an outlet for their hobby of hand-printing books, Hogarth Press ultimately became the publisher of many fellow members of the Bloomsbury Group, and became a leading outlet for books on (then-emerging field of) psychoanalysis and for translations of foreign (especially Russian) works.  It published the first U.K. edition of Eliot’s The Waste Land and  Laurens van der Post’s earliest work.

 “Hogarth House,” 34 Paradise Road, Richmond, London

Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 23, 2012 at 1:01 am

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