From: William Gray
I think your comments on TWL are insightful, though I hesitate to
accept all of them as Eliot's own thoughts in the work. I believe he was
saying that redemption in The Waste Land differs from the pagan ritual
accounts -- it's not automatic that the whole land and everyone in it
are healed. Redemption is personal and sets you apart from your culture
in the same way the Magi are "no longer at ease."
It's impossible to say what Eliot thought in TWL at the time of writing,
in terms of any Christian dimension. He does talk about the individual
person making a choice.
My thoughts were more about how he saw the waste land (not the poem but the
entity) as a committed Christian but also as accepting traditional
theology which he pretty much did. In that case, as I think one can
infer from 4Q he saw all of creation (ie twl) as transformed to a divine
dimension (at least potentially). It is up to individuals to choose it.
All sort of simplistically stated there,
but that pretty well is the bare bones of it.
Thanks for the reply.
>>> [log in to unmask] 06/15/03 05:57AM >>>
Thank you William, for your VERY refreshing contributions,
both here and in the Preludes thread.
Given that I have made the challenge, I suppose I should also speak
to the challenge, and I thank Rickard for his generous toe in the
water on the matter.
There is a crucial statement in 4Q to the effect of
"The hint half guessed, the gift half understood/ Is incarnation.
The half speaks to the hypostatic union, and the ability of man
to comprehend only the aspect of that union experience in human terms.
To get to the core in conise terms, to help open up the conversation
(rather than to explode it into an essay that might not allow a more
participative discussion (this being the oral/audile medium that it is),
The Waste Land is the end result of Eden and original sin.
The liberal (19th Century style) belief that one can renew the earth
to a status of Eden, has to be abandoned. Incarnation does not retrieve
e\Eden, it transforms the human dimension all together, to give it
a divine potential ("I said you are as gods"). The New Jerusalem,
the City of God takes man WAY beyond anything involved in his original
design as created in Eden. Incarnation means not just washing away of
of sins (baptism) so that the soul is clean in the sight of God.
It means that the whole body/soul entity achieves a new conditon in
Resurrection as demonstrated by Christ in his passing through matter,
and his ability to be present in a transcendent fashion through his
As this relates to Eliot, one can find it in his use of the garden as a
symbol of the connecting p[lace of the spiritual person to God. SOme-
times it is a full garden as in Burnt Norton, sometimes it is paretial
undefined in one way, or equated clearly and delinerately with a
garden, both in The Confidential Clerk. And of course there are the
roses at the end of 4Q and the Beech Tree (etymological source of BOOK
as I remember) at the end of THE ELDER STATESMAN.
Lurking in the middle of all this, although I think it would take a very
well equpped theologian to sort out, is the conception of matter as
totally corrupted by original sin, versus the idea that the fault lay in
severe weakening of the human virtue of original justice.
If matter is totally cporrupted by original sin then God would not
His grace into it in the form of the sacraments. No sacraments means no
priesthood to make the sacraments, and so no Church hierarchy. Obviously
idea of seeing matter as made transcendent in the resurrection is not
acceptable to such a view either. Taken to its extreme view, the total
corruption concept means that the only ultimate condition is The Waste
So those are a few threads one could pick and choose from to get
into discussions of Eliot's post-conversion work, in
particular in how it moves beyond TWL.
I have deliberately tried NOT to be complete
or definitive or even precise on the issues.
I have simply tried to raise the beginnings
of several possible threads.
From: William Gray
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: 6/14/03 12:00 PM
Subject: Re: The Christ in Christianity
Here are the first things that come to mind:
*Eliot's heavy emphasis on the Word (Christ is the Word, see John 1 and
I John 5:7) in FQ in a sense of acceptance [which moves beyond his
admiring but hesitant glances at Christ the Rock in TWL]
*"Christ the tiger" from "Gerontion" in what I would call something like
a metaphysically positive sense, or at least a respectful sense
*His rather autobiographical "The Journey of the Magi", with similar
structure and emphasis to Donne's and Herbert's autobiographical poems,
with an emphasis on change after confronting Christ ("three trees on a
lone sky" -- i.e., this is not salvation by church by salvation by
*I would have to agree that his emphasis in his later essays ("Religion
and Literature," "The Idea of a Christian Society," and so on) is on
Christianity and not specifically on Christ.
I'm not recalling exactly what Peter's post claimed aside from his
quote below, but I believe that the mere fact of Eliot's conversion to
Christianity symbolizes a "move beyond the waste land," a place of
indecision, unfulfilled desire and hopelessness. There doesn't seem to
be anything controversial in Peter's quote, at least in what you have
>>> [log in to unmask] 06/14/03 01:11PM >>>
Peter Montgomery wrote ("Re: Herman Hesse quote", 12 Jun 2003):
> Perhaps my mentionng of the spiritual dimension might embolden
> a lurker or two to get involved. I hope so. I mean, one really
> shouldn't avoid the fact that Eliot did, consciously and
> deliberately, move beyond the waste land.
Okay, I haven't read Eliot's essays on Christianity (but skimmed
"Lambeth" some time ago.) In the others I've read where Christianity
is mentioned I don't recall Christ being brought up. Since TSE studied
other religious systems my immediate thought is that Eliot wanted
the rigors of rituals that Anglo-Catholicism gave but wasn't really
tied to Christ. I'm willing to be set right if anyone wants to give
it a shot.
P.S. - No good deed goes unpunished. I wrote a post for Sara and,
before sending it, Nancy's came in with much the same I wrote so I
sent the text to Sara only to spare bandwidth (and it didn't reduce
the posts down one bit.)