Wednesday, February 6, 2013


As I'm reading Lewis's essay on The Waste Land, I notice that Eliot is often quoted and in his quotes he seems rather bitter towards his own poem and interpretations of it. At one point, he says, "Approving critics said that I had expressed 'a disillusionment of a generation,' which is nonsense. I may have expressed for them their own illusion of being disillusioned, but that did not form part of my intention." Which I take to mean that all the people who interpret his poem as addressing the issues of post-WWI society are wrong. Eliot says that his poem was not written to address that at all. In fact, he does not even consider this generation as being disillusioned, but rather that they like to imagine themselves as disillusioned. But I suppose a lot of generations like to create images of themselves, most often superior than previous societies, whether these images are true or not. I think that Eliot says that this WWI generation considers itself to be superior to previous generations, in that they have experienced this trauma and all the fanciful ideas of the Romantics and the idea that human society can do anything are only imagined by the 19th century society.

1 comment:

Madeline Davis said...

I think this is a very interesting point. I've noticed that several artists, whether authors or poets or painters or sculptors, have self-deprecating views of their own work and are not fully appreciated in their own time. In this, I think Eliot embodies the classic misunderstood and self-belittling artist that can be seen throughout the centuries. I also imagine that Eliot was frustrated with his contemporaries misinterpreting his intentions for The Waste Land, which I can only assume added to his dissatisfaction with his own troubled life.