André Deschamps wrote:
> I would like, then, to ask you whether you have seen any sort of
> comparison ever made between these two authors.
As you are no doubt aware there is a theory that The Waste Land is an
elegy of sorts for Eliot's friend Jean Verdenal (to whom 'Prufrock and
other Observations' was dedicated.) Making a simple case, in Part 1
of TWL we are introduced to the drowned Phoenician sailor (and pearls)
and the "lost love" in the Hyacinth garden. In Part 2 Eliot's note to
line 126 connects the two (the note replacing a more direct allusion
made in the drafts.) Part 4 has the death of Phlebas and Part 5 has
the narrator, in the voice of the thunder section, reminiscing about a
friend, apparently dead. But what about Part 3? Well, there are a few
places where a tie to Verdendal can be made, but what should interest
you is the reference to Augustine. Below is a part of a webpage from
my TWL website, 'Exploring "The Waste Land"'.
How, or if, you use the information is up to you but I think that you
should be aware this if writing an Eliot/Augustine dissertation.
John Peter has made an interesting comment on Augustine's trips to Carthage.
The quotation comes from the beginning of the third book of the
Confessions and the note which Eliot has appended to it, with its
mention of 'unholy loves', translates enough of its context to explain
how it bears upon the characters and incidents-the lovers on the
river, Mrs. Porter, Mr. Eugenides, the typist and the rest-that have
preceded it. What the notes do not make clear, and what I feel they
might have, is that Augustine 'came' twice to Carthage and that on the
second occasion he had travelled to it in order to escape from the
misery into which he had been plunged by the death of a friend, one
with whom he had enjoyed a friendship which he himself describes as
'delightful to me above all the delights of this my life'. Anyone who
begins reading at the fourth chapter of Book IV of the Confessions
will, I think, agree that this second visit to Carthage is even more
revealing when we refer it to the theme of The Waste Land, and he is
likely to realise also what a huge reference the broken fragment 'To
Carthage then I came' really contains.
"A New Interpretation of The Waste Land," Essays in Criticism II,
July, 1952, pp. 242-66. Eliot had copies of the July, 1952 issue
destroyed but the essay was reprinted in the April, 1969 issue of
Essays in Criticism along with "Postscript," an account of the
censorship and further elaboration.
Confessions, Book 1, Chapter 1, Section 1
To Carthage I came, where there sang all around me in my ears a
cauldron of unholy loves.
Confessions, Book 4, Chapter 7, Section 12
For whither should my heart flee from my heart? Whither should I flee
from myself? Whither not follow myself? And yet I fled out of my
country; for so should mine eyes less look for him, where they were
not wont to see him. And thus from Thagaste, I came to Carthage.
My TWL website:
An excellent book on Verdenal in TWL (drawing on Peter's work):
The book is currently out of print but I've seen copies on eBay and
online used bookstores for as little as $6.00 US.