Seems to me Eliot used the Tarot primarily as a kind of programme or intro
the characters and plot to come in TWL. He did have a kind of dramatic view
of the poem.
I believe Madam S's "bad cold" was slang, a sort of myth of syphilis.
Here's a comment on "playing cards" and such by Eliot in 4Q,
perhaps a change from his earlier perspective.
"To communicate with Mars, converse with spirits,
To report the behaviour of the sea monster,
Describe the horoscope, haruspicate or scry,
Observe disease in signatures, evoke
Biography from the wrinkles of the palm
And tragedy from fingers; release omens
By sortilege, or tea leaves, riddle the inevitable
With playing cards, fiddle with pentagrams
Or barbituric acids, or dissect
The recurrent image into pre-conscious terrors-
To explore the womb, or tomb, or dreams; all these are usual
Pastimes and drugs, and features of the press:
And always will be, some of them especially
When there is distress of nations and perplexity
Whether on the shores of Asia, or in the Edgware Road."
In THE GREATER TRUMPS, Charles Williams has a
fascinating take on the Tarot in which, when properly
combined with a troop of dancing Tarot figuines, the cards
can actually influence the inevitable, rather than riddle it.
Because the Fool has no number, its figurine is at the very centre
of the circulating troop, and so is seen everywhere and nowhere.
Eliot called Williams' novels, "pot boilers",
but that C.W. always boiled an honest pot. TGT is a pot to
which I have happily returned many times. It never fails to provide.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Montgomery" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 4:56 AM
Subject: Re: The Tarot in 'The Waste Land'
> That is a common view of the Tarot among its adherents.
> A glance through the Encylopedia of the Tarot shows
> many variations upon variations, many parts of sources,
> and many unanswerable questions, esp. as to origins.
> It adds up to one of the most seductive apprehensions of all, mystery.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Chokh Raj" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 2:13 AM
> Subject: The Tarot in 'The Waste Land'
> > the Tarot symbols' mapping of reality --
> > "Esoteric Symbols: The Tarot in Yeats, Eliot, and Kafka"
> > By June Leavitt
> > from Introduction:
> > "The mystical and metaphysical antecedents of the Tarot can be reduced
> into three basic diagrammatic metaphors. ... The common denominator of
> three diagrammatic metaphors is that the Tarot represents a mystical way
> apprehending the world where the soul is placed on a voyage to what we may
> call "enlightenment". It now remains to be seen how the mystical semiotics
> of the Tarot may be related to literary texts and to the lives
> > of the authors who wrote them."
> > http://books.google.com/books?id=ILbG37KgsDAC&dq
> > Regards,
> > CR