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Robinson, Anne Marie

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

Anne-Marie Robinson

T.S. Eliot video response


    The film mentioned, as have other sources, that Eliot originally entitled "The Waste Land" as "He Do the Police in Different Voices."  I am curious about his original intent behind the tentative title and his motivation for permanently changing it.  The film suggested that Eliot intended "He Do the Police in Different Voices" to function as a grammatically-butchered cockney parody of various character impersonations.  Given the array of characters which actually appear in the poem, this satirical title would have led the reader to perceive the piece as a drama with a diverse cast.  I wonder, however, if Eliot might have intended a more implicit commentary on corrupt authority. 

    The "Police", after all, might serve as a microcosm for all modern authority - government authority, especially - and its growing reputation for being untrustworthy.  Both the communist and anarchist movements fostered dramatic suspicions - if not blatant distrust - of administrations and establishments.  Perhaps Eliot originally intended the piece to function as a critique of Western authority?  If so, what remnants of this theme remain in the poem?

    The chosen title "The Waste Land" might indicate Eliot's final decision to embrace the more general theme of a total decline of Western civilization in all its facets, not solely in the area of authority. 


Laura Barnes' response:

     I wonder, also, when and why Eliot decided to change the title of his poem from "He Do the Police in Different Voices" to "The Waste Land." The movie spoke of Ezra Pound's significant influence on the final version of Elliot's poem. Pound largely contributed to the poem through his editing and critique, so much so that some critics have questioned whether "The Waste Land" deserves co-authorship status. Could Eliot's decision to change the title have been a result of Pound's influence?


Chris Herb's response: 


I thought about the issue of authorship as well.  It disappointed me to see Pound's scratchings all over the original version of the poem.  Aside from Tradition and the Individual Talent I am unclear on what modernist opinions are on the role of the author, but I know that Eliot comes very close to saying that the author is a product, to one degree or another, of all poetry that has ever been written.  He also suggests reworking that tradition to speak to the age, rather than "following the ways of the immediate generation before us in a blind or timid adherence to its successes."  This validates the work of Pound on the poem, because certainly a collaboration would better speak to the present than one person. 


Link back to TS Eliot Makeup


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