Considered the most important poem of the twentieth century, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land is an oblique and fascinating view of the hopelessness and confusion of purpose in modern Western civilization. Published in 1922the same year as Joyce’s equally monumental UlyssesThe Waste Land is a series of fragmentary dramatic monologues and cultural quotations that crossfade into one another. Eliot believed that this style best represented the fragmentation of society, and his poem portrays a sterile world of panicky fears and barren lusts, and of human beings waiting for some sign or promise of redemption. Mirroring the destruction and disillusionment of World War I, The Waste Land had the effect of a bomb exploded in a genteel drawing room, just as its author intended.
This volume also includes Prufrock and Other Observations (1917) and Poems (1919). Prufrock contains the poem that first put Eliot on the map, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” in which the title character is tormented by the difficulty of articulating his complex feelings. Among other masterpieces, Poems features "Gerontion," a meditative interior monologue in blank versea poem like none before it in the English language.
Randy Malamud is Professor of English and Associate Chair of the department at Georgia State University. His specialty is modern literature, and he has written three books and numerous articles about T. S. Eliot.
In addition to the full-length version of "The Waste Land," this recording includes Eliot's stirring narration of "The Hollow Men," "Sweeney Among the Nightingales," and "Macavity the Mystery Cat." Listen to Eliot read from "The Waste Land." Visit our audio help page for more information. (Running time: 47 minutes, 1 cassette) --Rob McDonald