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Rinko Response to Eliot

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 4 months ago

Response to T.S. Eliot Video


Sarah Rinko


    In the video, they mentioned that Eliot's use of the vernacular (particularly in the "A Game of Chess" section of "The Wasteland") is revolutionary and modernist because it was a direct revolt against the Georgian poets. The Georgian poets held that writing about common things was a poetic sin; a true poet writes on lofty subjects in a high, "more literary" language.  The movie made it clear that Eliot, Pound, and other modernist poets hardly shared this view, and they worked against it.

     This caught me by surprise. Didn't we discuss in class how Eliot wrote this poem for the educated and elite? He did not expect or even guess that the common man would be able to (or even should, maybe) understand his meaning. Because of this mindset, I thought that Eliot considered common life to be trashy, vulgar, and the very sign of the world's decay. Why, then, would he use its language?

    But I guess that it isn't that contradictory. Eliot's verse is not written exclusively in the vernacular (not even close!), and the part that is (the bar talk in "A Game of Chess") does not exalt the language. Rather, it portrays it as it really is: gossipy, dirty, and loose. Perhaps Eliot uses the vernacular, which he considers the degradation of language, to be an example of how debased our everyday lives have become: not only our actions or our thoughts, but even our words are now ugly and useless! Certainly, this fits the sense of corruption, falleness, and decay that drives the entire poem.


 TS Eliot Makeup



Response from Heather Smith:


 I, too, struggled with the idea of audience after viewing this video about T.S. Eliot. It does seem that Eliot is writing for the common people in certain places, such as the bar scene which you mentioned, but on the other hand he himself believed that not just anyone would be able to read his poem. Perhaps people can relate more to the language than to the imaginative logic that is required to decode Eliot's text. So maybe Eliot wrote "The Wasteland" in (somewhat) everyday language so that it could be widely read and enjoyed (as the movie mentions), but left the analysis up to the elite intellectuals whom he assumed would have the brain capacity to follow Eliot's imagination. As the video said, "The Wasteland" can be discussed and analzyed countless times, but I don't think we will ever quite understand what Eliot had in mind.


 from Joy Curtis

I would agree that Eliot wrote parts in the vernacular to be read and enjoyed while hiding the "true meaning" of the poem behind veils of allusions and higher symbols.  Earlier, we heard that Eliot considered his poems parables (rather lofty, if you ask me.)  The Wasteland is like a parable in that both use typical, culturally appropriate imagery (the movie called it "urban imagery"), a scene (or two, or...), and some sort of plot-line.  Also in common is their ambiguity.  Eliot probably had parable writing in mind as he composed this, believing only the elite could see the true meat of the poem.  Again, this would only be descovered after the intellectuals analyzed it endlessly.




Comments (1)

Anonymous said

at 2:51 pm on Feb 27, 2007

i experienced some of the same confusion that you did and also reached the same conclusion. very well put.

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