Thursday, January 31, 2013
Slipperiness of Time and Place
The time and place of The Wasteland is slippery. From Tiresias in Greece to twentieth century London, pinning down a setting in the Wasteland is impossible. The poem is ungrounded, sweeping, and universal. Why does Eliot decide to let time and place cease to matter? I think that by obliterating his setting, Eliot allows his message, which is in itself obscured, to become universal. But Eliot also wants to challenge his reader, educate them, and entertain them. The vast scope of The Wasteland is beyond epic in scale because it abides by no timetable. We learn about London, Russia, fictitious or unnamed places, but throughout we are entertained and curious about what is on the other side of the brown fog that hides Eliot's settings.