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Frank Kermode, in 1967, said, "Eliot ridiculed the critics who found in
The Waste Land an image of the age's despair, but he might equally have
rejected the more recent Christian interpretations."  I think the notion
that a trope "must serve the whole in some meaningful way," is quite
different, at least, from my resistance to disparate commentaries
because, if I understand you, it assumes some "whole" is there as a
unity to be found.  But why?  It is not only water that is a puzzling
muddle in TWL; it is pretty much all the images.  Except I would not use
"muddle" because they are not just that; they are complex and not
constrained within a "scaffold."  Who, for example, is Stetson?  Is he
an "everyman" as Brooks claimed or someone identifiable by the name who
had been in London that year or an image of the American or a soldier
and comrade?  It can go in as many directions.  And why is the
accusation of the quotation at the end of I spoken to him, as it is?
Nancy



Nancy wrote: "Water, for example, can be linked to the Thames in
"Epithalamion" or
lusty nights or Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS or whatever.  But these all
lead in different directions.  In any case, it does not fit Eliot's
description of an objective correlative: when given, it does not evoke a
specific emotion. "

Still, a trope must serve the whole in some meaningful way. Water in TWL
may be a multivalent sign or symbol, but if it were working with the
synergy of Eliot's usual signifiers each of its possible meanings would
inform all of the others. But water in TWL alternates its significance
with no intratextual consistency, producing a hodge-podge of referents,
a puzzling muddle.  Diana



>>> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 08/01/07 11:02 AM >>>