Gareth Reeves

T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land

Copyright © Gareth Reeves

First published 1994 by
Harvester Wheatsheaf
Campus 400, Maylands Avenue
Hemel Hempstead
Hertfordshire, HP2 7EZ

A division of
Simon & Schuster International Group

The blurb on the back of the book:

This textbook series focuses on some of the 'classics' of English Literature offering new and challenging ways of reading them by drawing on recent developments in modem literary theory.

Each volume in the series offers a survey of the contemporary critical approaches which can be usefully brought to bear on a single text, in sections covering Historical and Cultural Context, Critical Reception, and Theoretical Perspectives. These sections are followed by an original, long discussion which develops a close reading of the novel or long poem in question, and an annotated guide to further reading.

The books in this series will be genuinely accessible to undergraduate students at all levels.

This book starts from the premise that The Waste Land demands close reading. The appearance of the poem in 1922 started a critical debate that continues to this day. Reviewers and critics, whether favourable or hostile, have written about it in terms of theme, form and content. Many have considered it formless and fragmented, or have attempted to find coherence in it with assumptions about unity and closed form, trying to fix the text, to locate hidden narratives, spiritual quests, or allegories of salvation. However, Gareth Reeves contends that the poem is resolutely open-ended, a view supported by recent developments in reader-response criticism and reception theory. He seeks to present a close reading that avoids formalistic assumptions, allusion hunting, paraphrase and thematic treatment.

The aim of this study is to draw readers into the text so that they can experience it anew. Gareth Reeves argues that its meaning comes largely from the way the poetry sounds, and his reading therefore concentrates on all the ways of sounding: syntax, lineation, intonation. It also brings out the presence of the muted voices of wronged women in a work often branded as misogynistic.

Gareth Reeves is a senior lecturer in English at the University of Durham. His previous publications include T.S. Eliot: A Virgilian poet, two collections of poems, Real Stories and Listening In, and (with Michael O'Neill) Auden, MacNelce, Spender: The thirties poetry.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 0-7450-0738-4 (paperback)

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