Diapositiva 1 - Learning Literature

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Diapositiva 1 - Learning Literature
The Waste Land
• October 1922 published in “The Criterion” in
• November 1922 published in “The Dial” in the
• December 1922 published in book in the USA
with the inclusion of notes by Eliot
• Sept 1923: first English edition in book form
by The Hogarth Press
The Waste Land - Structure
The Burial of the Dead (1-76). The section opens with the coming of spring as ‘a cruel thing’. The fundamental contrast - aridity-fertility
is - thus established right from the beginning, in a series of images and scenes which describe a sterile world and culminate in the
London crowd crossing London Bridge on a foggy winter morning, looking like the souls of the damned in Dante’s Inferno
A Game of Chess (77-172) Here the contrast is expressed in two main scenes: the first is one of opulence and decadence, in a richly
decorated interior, showing a woman whose state of frustration and sexual repression is expressed in a monologue; the second
repeats the same ideas on a popular level, being set in a London pub
The Fire Sermon (173-211) this opens with the river Thames shown in the modern state of squalor and filth, to which is contrasted the
mythical Thames of Elizabeth I (allusion to Spenser’s poems). The central episode of this section is the seduction of a London typist by a
City clerk, typical of a modern sex without love or passion. The central figure in this section is that of Tiresias, the blind seer of Greek
myth who embodies both sexes. He moves through the waste land seeing everything. In this central section there are allusions to
mystical experiences: Saint Augustine and Buddha (‘the fire sermon’ is a sermon preached by Buddha against fires of lust.) Fire seems
thus to have a double meaning: it is the fire of lust but also of regeneration.
Death by Water (212-321). Opposing the fire of the previous section, images of drowning introduce the idea of purification by water
which is present in the last section. Death by Water is also linked to the first part by the character of Phlebus, the Phoenician Sailor
drowned in the sea. The imagery of the sea is inspired by Shakespeare‘s The Tempest, a play whose main theme is regeneration through
water and forgiveness.
What the Thunder Said (322-433). All the themes and motifs of the poem are united here. At the beginning the thunder claps without
bringing rain, which the land is waiting for, and the men of the Waste Land are also waiting. There are clear allusions to the death of
Christ, but the god (the poem is centred on the pagan god of the ancient fertility rites) is not yet resurrected to bring a new spring to his
land. In this part references and quotations range from Dante to St Luke’s Gospel to the medieval romances of the Grail Quest (the
legend of Parsifal), and they all point to the breakdown of civilization: London Bridge is falling, and so are Jerusalem’s towers, Athens,
and Vienna. On these ruins, the poet says, he must support himself. The poem ends with the words of an Upanishad, a poetic
commentary on the Hindu scriptures.
(tratto da A. Cattaneo, A Short History of English Literature. From the Victorians to the Present. Mondadori Università, 2011)
The Waste Land
• Jessie Weston, From Ritual to Romance, 1920
• James Frazer, The Golden Bough (12 vols),
Medieval romances
• Chrétien de Troyes (Perceval or Conte du
Graal); Robert de Boron (Le roman de
l’histoire du Graal, Merlin, Perceval); Wolfram
von Eschenbach (Parzival)
From Ritual to Romance
• In these romances we see a waste land whose ruler, the Fisher King,
has brought sterility to the land because of his impotence or death
– depending on which of the different versions of the myth we are
reading. Nothing in the waste land can reproduce itself and life
cannot continue until a knight (Galaad, Parsifal or Gawain) appears
who goes to the Chapel Perilous in the waste land and correctly
asks a set of ritualistic questions about the HOLY GRAIL (a grail is a
cup: the Holy Grail is the cup in which, according to tradition,
Joseph of Arimathea collected Christ’s blood during his Passion) and
the HOLY LANCE. Weston connects them back to ancient symbols of
female and male sexuality. When the questions are asked, the
Fisher King is cured or restored to life, and the waste land becomes
a fertile country again.
• (tratto da A. Cattaneo, A Short History of English Literature. From
the Victorians to the Present. Mondadori Università, 2011)
The Waste Land
• “Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis
meis vidi ampulia pendere, et cum illi pueri
dicerent:Σίβυλλα τί θέλεις; respondebat illa:
αποθανεĩν θέλω”, Petronius, Satyricon
• Del resto la Sibilla, a Cuma, l’ho vista anch’io
dondolarsi rinchiusa in un’ampolla, e quando i
fanciulli le chiedevano: “Sibilla, cosa vuoi?”,
quella rispondeva: “Voglio morire”.
The Waste Land
• For Ezra Pound, il miglior fabbro
• Guinizelli, speaking to Dante: “ ‘O frate’ disse
‘questi ch’io ti cerno/ col dito’, e additò uno
spirto innanzi,/ ‘fu miglior fabbro del parlar
materno’”, Purgatorio, XXVI, vv. 115-117.
• He refers to the Provençal poet Arnaut Daniel
The Waste Land
• L. 1 “April is the cruellest month…”
• “Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote/The
droughte of March hath perced to the roote/And
bathed every veyne in swich licour/Of which
vertu engendred is the flour…”
• “Quando Aprile con i suoi fragranti rovesci/ha
penetrato la siccità di Marzo fino alla radice/e
bagnato ogni vena in dolce liquore/dalla quale
virtù è generato il fiore…”
• G. Chaucer, Canterbury Tales
Song elisabettiano anonimo
• Spring, the year’s spring, is the year’s pleasant
king; / Then blooms each thing, then maids dance
in a ring; / Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do
sing, / Cuckoo, Jug-jug, pu-wee, to-witta-woo.
• La primavera, la primavera dell’anno, è dell’anno
l’amabile re;/allora fiorisce ogni cosa, allora le
fanciulle danzano in cerchio…/il freddo non
punge, cantano i graziosi uccelli,/cu-cu, giag giag,
pu-ui, tu-uitta-wu…
The Waste Land
• l. 20 “Son of Man” see Ezechiel, II, I
• l. 22 “A heap of broken images” see Ezechiel,
VI, 6
• l. 23 “….the cricket of relief”, see Ecclesiastes,
XII, 5
Ezekiel II, I
• And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon
thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.
• 2 And the spirit entered into me when he
spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that
I heard him that spake unto me.
• 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee
to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation
that hath rebelled against me
Ezekiel VI, 6
• In all your dwelling places the cities shall be
laid waste, and the high places shall be
desolate; that your altars may be laid waste
and made desolate, and your idols may be
broken and cease, and your images may be
cut down, and your works may be abolished.
Ecclesiastes XII, 5
• Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil
days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no
pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the
stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, in the day when
the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the
grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the
windows are dimmed, and the doors on the street are shut—when the
sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and
all the daughters of song are brought low— they are afraid also of what is
high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the
grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his
eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— before the silver
cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered
at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to
the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Vanity of
vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.
The Waste Land
• L. 48 “those are pearls …”
• Shakespeare, The Tempest, I, 2, 399-405
• Full fadom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
• (Ariel singing to Ferdinand who believes that is father, Alonso, king
of Naples, is dead. The song reassures the grieving son, telling him
to think of his father not as dead, but as having undergone “a sea
change/into something rich and strange”. )
The Waste Land
• L. 74 J. Webster, The White Devil, V, 4 “But
keepe the wolfe far thence, that’s foe to men/
For with his nailes hee’l dig them agen” (ma
tieni lontano di lì il lupo che è nemico degli
uomini/perché con le sue unghie li
The Waste Land
• L. 60 “Unreal City”
• C. Baudelaire “Les Sept Vieillards”/ “I sette
• «Fourmillante cité, cité pleine de rêves,/
Où le spectre en plein jour raccroche le passant!»
• «Città brulicante, piena di sogni, dove/ in pieno
giorno gli spettri adescano i passanti!»
• “Swarming city, city full of dreams,/ Where in a
full day the spectre walks and speaks!”
The Waste Land
• L. 62-63 “e dietro le venìa sì lunga tratta/di gente,
ch’io non avrei creduto/ che morte tanta n’avesse
disfatta” Dante, Inferno, III, 55-57 (Behind it came
so long a file of people/that I could not
believe/death had undone so many)
• L. 63 “Quivi, secondo che per ascoltare,/ non
avea pianto mai che di sospiri, /che l’aura etterna
facevan tremare” (Here, as far as I could tell by,
listening,/ was no lamentation other than the
sighs/that kept the air forever trembling) Dante,
Inferno IV, 25-27
Mythical Method
• In using the myth, in manipulating a continuous parallel between
contemporaneity and antiquity, Mr. Joyce is pursuing a method which
others must pursue after him. They will not be imitators, any more than
the scientist who uses the discoveries of an Einstein in pursuing his own,
independent, further investigations. It is simply a way of controlling, of
ordering, of giving a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of
futility and anarchy which is contemporary history. It is a method already
adumbrated by Mr. Yeats, and of the need for which I believe Mr. Yeats to
have been the first contemporary to be conscious. It is a method for which
the horoscope is auspicious. Psychology (such as it is, and whether our
reaction to it be comic or serious), ethnology, and The Golden Bough have
concurred to make possible what was impossible even a few years ago.
Instead of narrative method, we may now use the mythical method. It is, I
seriously believe, a step toward making the modern world possible for art,
toward that order and form which Mr. Aldington so earnestly desires. And
only those who have won their own discipline in secret and without aid, in
a world which offers very little assistance to that end, can be of any use in
furthering this advance. T. S. Eliot, Ulysses, Order and Myth
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