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Whether you enjoy poetry or not, TS Eliot's The Wasteland is a work of literature that makes a rich, compelling, mystical and thought-provoking reading experience. It's one of those timeless works that seems to renew itself on each subsequent reading and you will find something new and unique every time. Some of the lines have become familiar to many of us: “April is the cruellest month....” “I will show you fear in a handful of dust” and many more. Written after the moral and social crisis that gripped much of the world after the end of WWI, this poem was considered experimental and path-breaking for that era. The deliberately fragmented form and unconventional line patterns make it unusual and interesting. The poem's main theme is the devastation that laid waste much of the West after the first terrible war. The bleak and depressing aftermath of destruction, the psychological impact on the survivors who cannot find their own moral compasses, the quest for peace and order are all portrayed through a series of vivid metaphors and allegories. Eliot himself deliberately creates obscure and convoluted literary formats but provides extensive foot-notes to explain them, since the text itself is loaded with cultural, literary and deep psychological references. He re-creates the panic of a world that sees old traditions disappearing while the new are yet to be born. The sterile, morally decadent modern world is contrasted with the dazzling tapestry of the ancient world. The loss of control by a predominantly white, patriarchal and economically “superior” society is described through stunning imagery. Dubbed by literature buffs as “one of the most important poems of the 20th century” it is a complex, multi-layered poem filled with classical allusions, literary references and a sweeping vision of many cultures and traditions, both Eastern and Western. Published in 1922 after several years of research and work, The Wasteland is even today capable of yielding fresh material for readers and research scholars alike.
Still timely and timeless, The Waste Land continues to astonish artistically and thematically. The recording is outstanding, beautifully and expertly done. Bravo!