The Waste Land

Modernist Experimentation in The Waste Land

Eliot's "The Waste Land" is perhaps a prime example of the experimentation in poetic technique occurring during the period encompassing the Modernist movement. Loathed and adored by critics and students alike, the complexities of technique, language (or languages), subject matter and the sheer length of the work have contributed to the poem's status as a definitive example of "Modernist" writing. Along with Pound, Williams, Woolf and Joyce as well as countless others, Eliot's work clearly illustrates the Modernist idea of portraying objects and situations as they are, and not as they appear, without explanation and using techniques previously rubbished or indeed, previously untried, such as the almost prose-like contents of the poem, and reliance on cultural consciousness to bring about understanding of the meaning of poetry written in a stream of consciousness style. "The Waste Land" exemplifies experimentation with style and structure not necessarily purely for its own sake but as a genuine step towards advancing a genre which for centuries had been bound within self imposed restraints of meter and accepted poetic constructs.

The poem is composed in 5 sections. This in itself is not a...

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