I think we should consider a couple of problems raised by the student paper. It is clearly written by a smart undergraduate who writes very well. But it illustrates what I think is an increasingly serious issue, not only in academia but in the country: evaluating a text (or anything) on how it makes one feel. I deleted the text, but now I think I should have reread it. Nonetheless, the writer has apparently been asked--or has chosen--to respond to TWL on the basis of its effect on her personal experience and feelings. And I do not mean reader-response, which requires careful analysis. Rather, it simply "shares" her feelings of exclusion or inclusion.

That can be an effective way to start an examination of the text but only a start; as a conclusion, it does not really honor the text itself or the importance of studying the voices in it.

Second, I have no idea what "design" constitutes the beauty and strength of TWL. Even Eliot later in life said it had no design. If by this is meant Weston, that has been shown to be meaningless for decades. As I have written recently, I think Hugh Kenner was partly right in 1973 when he speculated that it had originally been meant as a "modern Aeneid" but that was dropped. In fact, it was not dropped, as we now know from the fact that sections can be dated (the second typewriter and the letters were not available to Kenner).

But there are far more parallels between TWL and the Aeneid than between TWL and Weston (the only direct allusions are in section V, and the supposed design was Pound's).  Gareth Reeves, Eleanor Cook, and Charles Martindale had seen the parallels earlier but also lacked the dating as a basis for the fact that they remain.

That does not mean that TWL has a "design" like the Aeneid. It means something more complex and fascinating about Eliot's late affirmations of Virgil. Anyone interested in the evidence and argument can read my study of Eliot's parallels with Aeneas in the T. S. Eliot Studies Annual, Vol. I, out this year.

There is a connection here: a couple of years reading Virgil, books about Virgil, and Roman history fundamentally altered my reading of TWL. The student obviously could not do that or be expected to do major research. But merely announcing one's feelings is not how one learns to think seriously.

On Tue, Oct 24, 2017 at 12:08 PM, Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
A fascinating unity of design, however, underlies the apparent cacophony of voices. And that constitutes the enduring beauty and strength of The Waste Land. 


On Tue, Oct 24, 2017 at 10:45 AM Cox, Carrol <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
A bright undergraduate paper, though it doesn't say much. But then the Eliot essay referred to was itself pretty superficial. After all, TWL is a cacophony of voices.