Would there be a contemporary, or near contemporary royal situation
to which it might apply? After all, the speaker is placed in a 
contemporary, if not
particularly royal context. It is a context consistent with other 
deleterious Thames scenes in the poem. Why the secretiveness? Why is he 


Rickard A. Parker wrote:

>Debra San wrote:
>>I have a question about lines 191-2 of The Waste Land.  I know that
>>the part about the king my father's death is adapted from what
>>Ferdinand says in The Tempest, but I don't know what to make of 'the
>>king my brother's wreck'.  Any thoughts?
>This part of TWL is a stumper for me also, Debra.  I have a gut
>feeling that it has something to do with Jean Verdenal but I've never
>really come up with (or read about) a connection that appeals to me.
>None-the-less, I'll pass on a few things about it.
>As you noted, one allusion here is to The Tempest's "Weeping again the
>king my father's wreck" but this section of the poem can also be seen
>as having a comparison to the Grail legend.  I'll append a page from
>my website below to explain the similarities.
>Cleanth Brooks has written that the father and brother fit Wolfram von
>Eschenbach's "Parzial": 'Trevrezent, the hermit, is the brother of the
>Fisher King, Anfortas.  He tells Parzival. "His name all men know as
>Anfortas, and I weep for him evermore."  Their father, Frimutel, is of
>course dead."'  If Eliot is using this then it appears that he has
>merged the two brothers into one.
>For a biographical angle: in the summer of 1921, when Part III to TWL
>was being composed, TSE, Vivian and TSE's brother, Henry, shared Lucy
>Thayer's flat for a number of weeks (about six) while she was away and
>TSE's mother and sister stayed in the Eliots' flat. Vivian wrote about
>Thayer's flat that they were "encamped in attic with a glass roof."
>So, at this time, Henry the father was dead and TSE was with his
>brother Henry in a humble (little, low) garret.  Valerie Eliot in
>"Letters of TSE" has noted that Henry, like his father, hard of
>hearing, was the inspiration for Eliot's "infinitely suffering thing"
>    Rick Parker
>Exploring The Waste Land
>A commentary page linked from The Waste Land, Part III, line 189
>                                   Part III
>                                 Lines 189-190
>For gashouse think Grail Castle as Cleanth Brooks did when he compared
>the lines
>       189)  While I was fishing in the dull canal 
>       190)  On a winter evening round behind the gashouse 
>with  these  elements  of  the  Grail myth: the Fisher King, the Grail
>Castle and the river passing by:
>     The  castle of the Fisher King was always located on the banks of a
>     river  or  on  the  sea shore. The title 'Fisher King', Miss Weston
>     shows,  originates  from the use of the fish as a fertility or life
>     symbol.  This  meaning,  however,  was  often forgotten, and so the
>     title  in  many  of  the  later Grail romanaces is accounted for by
>     describing the king as fishing. Eliot uses the reference to fishing
>     for reverse effect. The reference to fishing is part of a realistic
>     detail  of  the scene--'while I was fishing in the dull canal'. But
>     to  the reader who knows the Weston references, the reference is to
>     that  of  the  Fisher King of the Grail legends. The protagonist is
>     the maimed and impotent king of the legends.
>Brooks  mentions  Jesse  Weston's  ideas  on  the Grail castle and the
>Fisher King. Below are some excerpts from her From Ritual to Romance.
>On the Grail castle:
>     We  may also note the fact that the Grail castle is always situated
>     in  the  close  vicinity of water, either on or near the sea, or on
>     the banks of an important river. In two cases the final home of the
>     Grail  is  in  a monastery situated upon an island. The presence of
>     water,  either sea, or river, is an important feature in the Adonis
>     cult,  the  effigy  of the dead god being, not buried in the earth,
>     but thrown into the water.
>On the Fisher King:
>     Robert  de  Borron  is  the  only  writer  who  gives  a clear, and
>     tolerably  reasonable,  account  of  why  the guardian of the Grail
>     bears  the  title of Fisher King; in other cases, such as the poems
>     of  Chrétien and Wolfram, the name is connected with his partiality
>     for fishing, an obviously post hoc addition.
>     The  story  in  question  is found in Borron's Joseph of Arimathea.
>     Here  we  are  told how, during the wanderings of that holy man and
>     his  companions in the wilderness, certain of the company fell into
>     sin.  By the command of God, Brons, Joseph's brother-in-law, caught
>     a  Fish, which, with the Grail, provided a mystic meal of which the
>     unworthy  cannot  partake; thus the sinners were separated from the
>     righteous. Henceforward Brons was known as 'The Rich Fisher.' It is
>     noteworthy,  however,  that  in  the  Perceval romance, ascribed to
>     Borron, the title is as a rule, Roi Pescheur, not Riche Pescheur.

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