Sunday, October 09, 2022

The tortuous origin of a great poem

The Waste Land: A Biography of a Poem by Matthew Hollis – genesis of a masterpiece. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Matthew Hollis’s book is deeply and brilliantly concerned with all the tendrils of that unhappiness, and Eliot’s triumphant creative response to it. He sifts and rakes over the dead ground of the poet’s broken relationship with his American parents, his disastrous infertile marriage, and the no man’s land of London decimated by Spanish flu after the great war. His quest is for all the seeds of intellectual and emotional pressure that shaped the poem. Such is the energy and engagement of Hollis in this task that you find yourself rooting for the emergence of the poem along with Eliot and his supporters, willing it into life as the book progresses.

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