• Cultural and Textual (Dis)Unity: Poetics of Nothingness in The Waste Land

    Petar Penda (see profile)
    CLCS 20th- and 21st-Century, LLC 20th- and 21st-Century American
    American literature, English literature, Literature, Modern
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    criticism, eliot, literature, Modern literature
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    n his theoretical writings, as well as in the subtext of The Waste Land, Eliot expresses the idea of the organic nature of culture and its unity despite its regional diversity. This unity is represented by some formal features of The Waste Land, such as its rhythm and structure. However, cultural unity, at times also represented by the textual, is opposed to the ideaistic disorder which disrupts the unity. This intricate relation of the cultural, textual, ideaistic, and formal, full of mutual inclusions, exclusions, compliances and non-compliances, adds up to both the ideas of non-being and nothingness of life, as well as to the ideology of order and (dis)unity. This duality of nothingness of life on the one hand, and establishing order on the other, is reconciled by means of the aesthetic unity of the opposites. The insistence on the aesthetic reconciliation of the above dichotomies, which Eliot sees as possible only in reference to the past, bears ideological traits common for many Modernist authors. The aesthetic of nothingness realized through the poetics of disorderly order thus leads to that what Terry Eagleton terms as the ‘‘ideology of cultural disintegration’’. The aim of this essay is to scrutinize the interrelation of both Eliot’s theoretical poetics and the poetics utilized in The Waste Land regarding the cultural and textual (dis)unity realized through the ideaistic and formal.
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