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The Waste Land (1922)

by T. S. Eliot

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8192019,647 (4.02)109
The waste land, which has long been regarded as one of the fundamental texts of modernism. By combining poetic elements from many diverse sources with bits of popular culture and common speech linked in a fragmented narrative, Eliot recreated the chaos and disillusionment of Europe in the aftermath of WWI.… (more)
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» See also 109 mentions

English (17)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
The Waste Land is a poem to be studied rather than read, analysed rather than enjoyed, and this fact will already put it firmly into the debit column for many readers. T. S. Eliot apparently had a theory that 'poetry can communicate before it is understood', and certainly you get this from The Waste Land: the sense of foreboding and cataclysm, and of disharmony and then harmony, synergy, comes through to you even if you do not have a clue what is going on. Eliot chooses his words well and there is a wealth of allusion hinting at an unspoken metaphysical layer. There is a Pandora's box of dark potential in Eliot's piece, like an atom that could be split with explosive power, and while you might well prefer Stephen King or Marian Keyes (and more power to you), I for one am glad that there are complex artistic contraptions like The Waste Land in the world. ( )
  Mike_F | Feb 7, 2019 |
I can't help it, I have always loved T.S. Eliot's diction and modes of expression. Now I have it in e-book form. I know Thomas Stearns isn't the best model for human behavior, but he surely could express himself. This poem, an elegy, a summoning of Buddhist and Christian traditions, a description of the ruptures of civilization, couldn't be more timely. ( )
1 vote deckla | Jul 15, 2018 |
Yeah, I'm going to be that guy who gives T.S. Elliot 2 stars. Sorry, Mr. Elliot. I'm not a fan of non-narrative poetry. I gave it my best shot, but quite honestly it read like complete gibberish to me. ( )
1 vote Sylvester_Olson | Jul 1, 2018 |
As is true for most readers, when I first encountered The Waste Land in the 1960s, I found myself in a very foreign poetic land. I read the annotations and explications. I listened to my professors. I reread and mad innumerable margin notes. I felt the poem's power and despair. But its meaning seemed hard to parse.

Now, decades later, rereading yet again, I know the poem and the poem knows me. We still live in The Waste Land. The loss of all mooring after WWI still remains a debris we drift with. But the poem itself seems very approachable now, its discordant ballet of voices powerful as ever, but its sense much more apparent to me.

You must read and reread this poem. My critical opinion of it had moved over time to it being overrated---but now, no. It is a seminal poem of the last century. And its relevance today is profound. ( )
2 vote dasam | Jun 21, 2018 |
non posso dire che la poesia sia il mio pane. Pochi sono gli autori per i quali faccio eccezione. L'ingessato Eliot è uno di questi. Chissà perchè mi piace? Forse perchè agita antichi ricordi di classicismo scolastico? Forse perchè la sua scrittura è più spesso, una prosa poetica? forse perchè mi fa pensare a Gabriele Rossetti, un pittore che amo molto? Chissà.
Certo ha scritto uno dei versi più evocativi che abbia mai letto: "Aprile è il più crudele dei mesi: genera lillà dalla terra morta, mescola ricordo e desiderio..." ( )
  icaro. | Aug 31, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
I will take a brief look at Consider Phlebas and then at The Waste Land, followed by examples of how the latter informs the former.
added by elenchus | editJohn Black blog, John Black (Oct 4, 2012)
 
Eliot was to tell the Paris Review that in the composition of the closing sections "I wasn't even bothering whether I understood what I was saying." There seems no reason at all why we should not take him at his word. Defensive modesty of this variety can often be worth noting; what critic has ever succeeded in getting any sense or any beauty out of the final pages? And in what conceivable universe—even the batty, sinister one of Ezra Pound, who insisted that the poem open in that manner—is April the cruelest month?

It is not disputable that by publishing The Waste Land when he did, Eliot caught something of the zeitgeist and enthralled those who needed borrowed words and concepts to capture or re-express the desolation of Europe after 1918... It is certainly the most overrated poem in the Anglo-American canon.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Atlantic, Christopher Hitchens
 
Look at it as a film scenario, which in many ways it resembles, and you can see that it goes much farther – with its jump cuts and flashes backward and forward and montages and intense economy – than anything by Truffaut or Godard or Fellini or Antonioni....

The twentieth century has seen bigger and more ambitious poems than The Waste Land – such as the Cantos of Pound, the Anathemata of David Jones, the Anabase of St-John Perse – but no poem has been a more miraculous mediator between the hermetic and demotic. It is, curiously when one considers the weight of polyglot learning it carries, essentially a popular poem, outgoing rather than ingrown, closer to Shakespeare than to Donne. It was Pound who said that music decays when it moves too far away from the dance, and poetry decays when it neglects to sing. The Waste Land sticks in one’s mind like a diverse recital performed by a voice of immense variety but essentially a single organ: it sings and goes on singing.
added by SnootyBaronet | editEncounter, Anthony Burgess
 

» Add other authors (33 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
T. S. Eliotprimary authorall editionscalculated
Keenan, JamieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muldoon, PaulIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Praz, MarioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ricks, ChristopherEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis meis vidi in ampulla pendere, et cum illi pueri dicerent: Sibilla, ti thelis?; respondebat illa: Apothanin thelo.
Dedication
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Per Ezra Pound il miglior fabbro.
First words
April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Quotations
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images
I will show you fear in a handful of dust
If there were water
And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
And water
A spring
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment's surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Contains only The Waste Land and nothing else. Do not combine with collections of Eliot's work, including The Waste Land and Other Poems.
Publisher's editors
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Canonical DDC/MDS
The waste land, which has long been regarded as one of the fundamental texts of modernism. By combining poetic elements from many diverse sources with bits of popular culture and common speech linked in a fragmented narrative, Eliot recreated the chaos and disillusionment of Europe in the aftermath of WWI.

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Book description
Nel 1922, in The Waste Land, Eliot aveva dato espressione al consapevole disorientamento di un'epoca che, iniziatasi colla prima guerra mondiale, può dirsi duri tuttora e non si saprebbe meglio definire che col titolo di un volume dell'Auden, The Age of Anxiety, l'epoca dell'ansia. The Waste Land chiudeva il suo barbarico edificio con alcuni frammenti di poeti del passato, vestigia di una nobile e secolare tradizione di cultura, e con la dichiarazione: "Con questi frammenti io ho puntellato le mie rovine". The Waste Land voleva essere insomma un edificio di bassa epoca deliberatamente eretto sull'Ultima Thule del pensiero europeo, proprio al limite della desolazione incombente che minacciava di travolgere ogni traccia d'una cultura secolare. Dall'introduzione di Mario Praz
(piopas)
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