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The Waste Land

The Waste Land was first published in 1922 and was dedicated to his American writer friend Ezra Pound, that played an important role in editing the poem. This poem was rapidly acclaimed ad the beginning of a new type of poetry capable of expressing the post – war sense of depression, futility and a collapse of values. The common theme which links the different parts of The waste land is the dacay and fragmentation of western culture and society. Eliot’s main sources of information and inspiration are the Bible and Dante’s Divine Comedy, but also Shakespeare, Charles Baudelaire, Homer’s Odyssey, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the Hindu sacred book Upanishads and the works of the anthropologists like James Frazer. Eliot compares the modern phenomenon of cultural fragmentation to a heap of broken images. The Waste land alludes to the opposition between the sterility of the modern world and the fertility of the past; Eliot believes that in the modern world, culture has been made banal and no longer teaches us anything. The Waste land is also highly innovative in its use of language: the poem creates sharp juxtapositions between different registers of speech, from lyrical to the colloquial language of ordinary Londoners. Like Joyce’s Ulysses, The waste land includes quotations in several different languages: German, French, Latin, Sanskrit, Italian and Greek.

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