As it turns out, Eliot owes both the diction of the earlier Philomel allusion the barbarous king l. But such details are important. The Waste Land, that is to say, prefaced The Criterion in more ways than one: it rendered what Eliot would ultimately term an organ of documentation necessary, imagining a crit-ical practice supple enough to include the literal contents of history as poetic substance. In fact, I will argue that by under-reading The Waste Land, we have categorically mistaken the part for the whole and ac-cordingly overlooked the central document of Eliots career: The Criterion itself. This book constitutes an attempt to think through that conundrum and to account for the emergence of the modernist epic as the central formal problem of an apparently postepic age.
Doubly mediated by Westons text and Verlaines, Wagners fragment at line 42 marks Eliots closest explicit approach to the title phrase as such, the moment at which the poem comes closest to speaking the phrase the waste land directly. But the simple fact that from the outset the poem refused its own standing as a mere poem, casting outward to grasp the seemingly random contents of a literary review and reorganize the sequence of its own allusions, suggests the need for some more subtle and extensive notion of poetic textuality. That infernal image echoes through the Buddhas Fire Sermon, Burning burning burning burning l. Encoded in a stray phrase from The Waste Land, then, lies not only the source of Richardss description of Eliots poeticsa symbolist music of ideas predi-cated on poetrys capacity to insinuate meaning through indirection, displacing description with evocationbut also an account of allusion itself, folded into an allusion to the problem of allusion. Hulme insisted of Baudelaire: Order is thus not merely negative, but creative and liberating. The sugges-tion is obviously contradictory, but it is with just this contradiction that late modernism reaches a conceptual end, in H.
What even this cursory history demonstrates is that text is not strictly separable from context or paratext, that the internal details of Eliots poem may depend fundamentally on the establishment of an external referent nowhere registered in the poems manifest language, pressing beyond the tech-nical device of simple allusion to postulate a different mode of poetic reference altogether, founded on the poems heteronomous capacity to incorporate extra-neous and even nonpoetic elements as dynamic parts of its own movement. Hesses review of German verse forges a less obvious but more crucial link. Peirce a few years earlier. Death has not brought me peace. American poetry20th centuryHistory and criticismTheory, etc.
The very impossibility of fragments re-maining fragments suggests the emergence of a previously uncognized whole, some singular historical space or operation they all share. With its literal sense receding into the swirl of Eliots concluding litany, the line functions first as a fragment, a rhyming element conjoined to other frag-ments surrounding it, risking the homogeneous assimilation that Moretti deplores. More than a mere figure of relation, metonymy stands as the dislocated formal logic through which order emerges as a concept of a radically dialectical sort, allowing the particular to attach to the universal in a state of noncorrespondence, nonmi-meticallymediating universal and particular but maintaining each as such. But at the same time, this one allusion poses a different order of problem, for the simple reason that is not in any strict sense there at all. This compelling biography will be essential reading for Kazantzakis scholars and for a wide audience of those who already admire the Greek author's work. But it is impossible to engage his poetic practice from 1922 on without retracing the obsession, without somehow thinking metonymy and order together, as Eliot systematically does. While Another Time sketches an implicit calendar of monadic dates, from 1937 to 1939, Autumn Journal foregrounds that monadology, chaining the poems voice both to larger events that gradually usurp the poets expressive freedom and to the mechanisms that convey them, from the daily papers to the wireless.
As a practical matter, then, these readings concern themselves with what a poem like The Waste Land cannot quite say, what the elegies and pastoral jour-nals of the Auden generation presuppose rather than predicate, what H. An organ of documentation : Eliot and order. That is 19 pages, and let us say the longest poem in the English langwidge. Like that fragment, the line Eliot borrows seems to strip referential function from poetic sense, ab-sorbing an entire range of figurative resonances. In order to grasp what Eliot has done, one must conceive an experience that has not yet been had by anyone in particular, hearing a reference that has not even been spoken. Lloyds death thus occasions a complaint against the culture industry that succeeds her, as Eliot rails against the sheer boredom of endless kitsch, but simultaneously inverts Pounds aristocratic logic, casting its lot below rather than above and seeking to imagine however weakly an alternative mode of common culture.
With this teleological revision of the concept of culture, however, a final and perhaps more surprising recognition becomes possible. Last words ; Another date line ; Toward definition : Eliotic epistemology ; An absolute criterion : Eliotic praxis ; Eliotic marxism : culture as praxis ; Negation : epic as critique -- Part 2: Including negation. The poems litany of fallen cities, in this context, does not merely end in London; it also begins there, with a de-struction of citadels happening in real time, in 1922. But even the slight indirection of the Wagne-rian reference conceals another allusion that offers the phrases exact form, to a figure more central to Eliots poem than has usually been acknowledged: neither Wagner nor Hebrew scripture, nor even Weston, but rather the waste land of Tennysons early Arthurian fragment, The Epic. As much as any single habit of thought, it is this commitment to order, with its overdetermined slide into a political register, that has earned Eliot a persistent measure of contemporary critical distrust. And in Freuds Moses, she names such a structure of memory by not naming it, forming a poetics on the images encryption. But it was not just Pound who fastened on the poems simultaneous expansion and contraction.
Between the manifest lyric and the latent epic, then, there emerges a new and mediating dialectical circuit, connecting the occasion that the poem can mention to the determinate totality that it cannot. Formed in rough concert, they have long offered the warrant for insisting against Lukcs that the epic remains available to modernity in something other than prosaic form. The point is made explicit a few sentences later: A literary review should maintain the application, in literature, of principles which have their consequences also in politics and in private conduct; and it should maintain them without tolerating any confusion of the purposes of pure literature with the purposes of politics or ethics. This philosophical language of autonomy and heteronomy is largely Eliots own, reflecting the reviews sustained practical concern with the interpenetra-tion of poetic and nonpoetic language, and it is the instrument of the review itself that permits the structuration of what might be described as a concept of divided autonomy. Subtly, the 1945 recollection marks the collabo-rations arc, tracing the fate discovered at Pisa to plans made decades earlier. Establishing and testing this ambitious conceptual structure, Blantons detailed readings explore the long poems own explorations of the limits of poetry and the question of whether non-traditional poetic means can serve as an alternative way to achieve epic status in the modern age. Throughout his career, Eliot offered the review as his chief claim to speak on matters ranging from the narrowly poetic to the political, not because he sought to deprecate the importance of his poems or diminish his own occasional criticism, but precisely because The Crite-rion comprehended those other quantitatively lesser objects.
Without Pounds command of Provenal, Eliot had no ready way to recognize the mistake without direct refer-ence to Dantes text. The fact that the erection of these churches was apparently paid for out of a public coal tax and their decoration probably by their parishioners, does not seem to invalidate the right of the True Church to bring them to ground. The very idea of a modern epicrenewed continually since the renaissance, in every major languageaccordingly becomes less tenable, more contrived and contradictory with each appearance, attempting to give what should be given already. With the allusion to Mallarm restored, however, that pattern shifts decisively, forging a more direct historical link. For it is to the Wagnerian music of ideas that Mallarm himself is alluding in the passage to which Eliot alludes, attempting to reimagine the dream of a Gesamtkunstwerk by synthesizing music and word as alternative sides to the one and only phenomenon I have called the Idea 189. For while the long history of aesthetic production and reception pro-vides an array of formal tools with which to read a poem, the unique challenge of the late modernism described here lies in the need to devise a more intensive and properly dialectical mode of reading, measured to a language that has passed into disarticulation, from the sensuous to the conceptual range of effects. Critically, the source of the association, the detail that allowed Eliot at whatever level of awareness to fuse his friends memory with a stray fragment from Dante and all its contiguous associations, remains beyond the poems apparent episte-mological sphere, leaving only a persistent indexical sign that asserts an overde-termined meaning without specifying it: Verdenal-ara vos prec.
And yet virtually every attempt to read the poem in the near century since has shared this single heuristic presumption: that despite its intricate hermeneu-tic riddles, Eliots text is somehow self-evidently given, a contained and largely unproblematic object of reference. This book, then, is about epic negated, about an elusive poetics devised under the force of the injunction to include history, but caught simultaneously in a history too complex and often too menacing to include straightforwardly. Give Sympathise Control The setting into order depends on two movements at different hermeneutic levels. In matters of smaller detail, the revisions did not end there. As critics have long noted, the moment is among the poems most somber, simultaneously echoing the apoc-alyptic language and concern of J.