The Waste Land Paperback – 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Simply stated, the poem is one the true benchmarks for twentieth century literature. It is rather difficult in that it is highly allusive, some allusions fall on the rather obscure side (Middleton, Weston) but mostly they are rather well known (Augustine, Dante, the Bible, Baudelaire, Wagner). The experience will prove to be as didactic as well as expressive due to all these allusions in the text. As far as the poem itself goes, it has a definite effect on you when you read it. I remember the first time I read the lines, "I think we are in rats' alley where the dead men lost their bones," and although I couldn't really understand what was going on just yet in the poem, that line as well as many other lines and images, had an affect on me. On the whole the emotional tone of the poem (not to do it injustice and say what it is about) is the spiritual alienation and degradation everyone felt after WWI. It's a quest of sorts, taken on by a persona of Eliot to find meaning amidst "the stony rubbish" that is the world. It sets the philosophy of Buddha and Augustine side by side as it does with the Rg Veda and the Bible in a collage of different voices and arresting images.
A good guide though is imperative for undertaking this task and this edition is, to my knowledge, the best one out there. It gives many of the primary texts alluded to by Eliot in this poem as well as serving as a good introduction to the mountains of criticism that this poem has birthed. All in all, the book is a great buy for those who are interested in gaining a true appreciation and understanding of this poem and for twentieth century poetry which it influenced so much.
North's emphasis on source materials is the edition's greatest liability. In his introdution, North alludes to the controversy over Eliot's notes, but the edition never discusses the problem that the critical reliance on the notes pose. It takes Eliot's notes as a reliable and critically uncontroversial guide to source material and spends a considerable part of the book elaborating these sources. Sometimes the source material that the notes point to provide insight into the poem and oftentimes they reveal a misplaced credulity in Eliot's ultimate critical authority.
Unfortunately, many of Eliot's references are arcane, and not easy for the lay reader to pursue. For example, few modern readers happen to have a copy of Webster's play "White Devil" or excerpts from Shackleton's account of the Antarctic expedition readily available on their shelves. Hence, the virtue of this particular edition: in addition to Eliot's original poem and original notes, this book includes the relevant passages from every single work Eliot quotes in the "Wasteland", all translated into English. For the first time I have seen in print, this book allows the reader to understand this magnificent poem in light of the full scope of its allusions. A triumphant achievement!
Most recent customer reviews
Williams was right. Eliot has taken poetry twenty years into the past with this poem. While others are experimenting with their poetics, Eliot falls back on an Old World school of... Read morePublished on April 25 2004 by Megan A. Burns
The Wastleland epitomizes the elitist and reactionary undertones prevalent in much of early modernism--by which I am referring to that vague (retrospectively designated) "school"... Read morePublished on Sept. 2 2003
Let's be honest here. You have spent most of your life reading Grisham and Crichton and to think that you will be able to penetrate a single line of this, the most wonderfully... Read morePublished on May 20 2003 by J. Basil
One of T.S. Eliot's bestknown poems. What I am feeling is more an impression than a meaning. The world is old, like coming to its end, decaying. The poet sees and only sees. Read morePublished on Dec 16 2001 by Dr Jacques COULARDEAU