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Dear Rick:

It has been noted that Eliot re-shaped TWL in final draft according to the "mythic method" he had learned from Joyce's work. The Fisher King myth is described thusly by Wikipedia:

"The Fisher King or the Wounded King figures in Arthurian legend as the latest in a line charged with keeping the Holy Grail. Versions of his story vary widely, but he is always wounded in the legs or groin, and incapable of moving on his own. When he is injured, his kingdom suffers as he does, his impotence affecting the fertility of the land and reducing it to a barren Wasteland. "

In his book T.S. Eliot, A Study in Character and Style, Ronald Bush writes that the myth "belongs to the period when Eliot was reshaping, not composing, his poem...(it was the) way Eliot 'controlled' and 'ordered' something that was given to him more than how he proceeded from the beginning. As an account of The Waste Land as a whole it is a dismal failure, for, as Hugh Kenner has pointed out, "it is difficult to believe that anyone who saw only the first four parts (of TWL) in their original form would believe that 'the plan and a good deal of the incidental symbolism' were suggested by Jessie Weston's book on the Grail Legend, or that The Golden Bough...had much pertinence.' It is difficult, as Kenner explains, because the manuscript clearly shows that most of the Frazer and Weston imagery got into the poem only at the very end and that Eliot superimposed this material piecemeal onto sections that had been written earlier. Furthermore, the 'myth' exists more in the suggestions of the belated title and in the notes than in the poem itself." (pp. 71-72)

This does not disprove your point; but it does inform it. Diana


From:  "Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Subject:  Fearing death by water
Date:  Fri, 3 Aug 2007 20:38:19 -0400
Diana,

Somewhere in this long thread I believe you asked something like "Why
fear death by water?"  I've come up with something that may serve as
an answer but I can't say I'm really happy about it:  The Fisher
King's lands are sterile and if water came and brought relief to the
lands (and maybe the Fisher King) then the Fisher King would be
revived physically by the water but he would miss his spiritual
healing and would not truly be reborn.

I'm dissatified with this answer, not because it is such a bad or
forced thought, as with the belief that it doesn't seem to fit in the
Sosostris section well without enough other support for the idea by
Eliot.

Regards,
    Rick Parker


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