The Waste Land: collaboration, montage and dislocation

The British Library blog hosts some very interestng materials relating to T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, including links to early drafts of the text and letters in which he rcords some of the circumstances of it’s composition. In this linked article, Roz Kaveney offers her thoughts on the poem’s importance and continuing interest. She also explores the idea of The Waste Land as a work of collaboration, and discusses not only the editorial influence of the poet Ezra Pound, but also the less well known contribution of Eliot’s wife Vivienne.

‘We remember how troubled Eliot’s relationship with Vivienne became – and there is a lot that can be seen as foreshadowing its bad end in The Waste Land – but it is also worth remembering that, at this point, they were still co-conspirators against the world; the difficulties about sex and about physical and mental health had not become insurmountable, nor were her affair with Bertrand Russell or Eliot’s areas of sexual ambivalence. They were working together on the literary magazine The Criterion, for example, and here, in particular, he took her advice to the extent of including lines that she suggested – notably and rather poignantly in the scene with the cockney ladies in the pub, and ‘What you get married for if you don’t want children’, a line particularly poignant in the light of Eliot’s later obsession with the children he and Vivienne never had. (In the Four Quartets, he talks of the ghosts of children he never had.) However doomed their relationship was, her praise for the early stages of the work was important to him…’

Read the entire article here:

Cardiff BookTalk will be discussing The Waste Land on 15 August 2022. The event is free and open to all via Zoom. Book your place via Eventbrite at the link below:


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