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.

4 comments:

Tyler Dean said...

Wow Will, those meds must make you receive divine revelations. I completely agree. He definitely gets rid of time in the poem, and it seems to serve the purpose of making the message universal. Eliot utilizes so many allusions from different time periods to show that the message connects to everyone. What that message is, I do not know, but Eliot does make it so that it applies to all time.

Austin Falk said...

I agree that there is not a constant setting in Waste Land. I think Elliot definitely does this on purpose. As you know, Elliot is a modernist. Modernists wanted to get away from focus on nature, time, and spirit. Constantly changing the setting avoids any constant theme from forming. Doing this allows the modernists like Elliot to complete their goal on focusing on more realistic things and urbanization. This theme of getting away from nature and the individual started with realism and made its way all the way to modernism where it can be seen in T.S. Elliot's Waste Land.

Cassidy George said...

Tyler, I agree, Will is sounding especially prophetic and enlightened under the influence of painkillers. It reminds me of Coleridge and his fellow Romanticist poet friends that smoked opium all day long and wrote things like Kublai Khan. Anyway, I think the lack of setting in key in the essential concept of the Waste Land. This "Waste Land" exists everywhere, it is identified by their post-war time period, rather than physical location. The waste land exists within the 20th century society and psyche.

Ben Bonner said...

The way Eliot bounces around in terms of time and location reminds me of 100 Years of Solitude. In his Nobel acceptance speach, Marquez refers to Faulkner as his "master" and the writer who had the most influence on him. William Faulkner and Eliot were writing at the same time; they received their Nobel prizes within a year of each other. I think it's really interesting to see how these two authors seem to have influence each other and, by consequence, Marquez decades later.