Eliot and Vorticism

Vorticism was a concept that was introduced to the class at the beginning of the semester and was introduced to me in several earlier classes. This movement strikes me as particularly relevant to The Waste Land because of the concept of the reversal of history through destruction. Earlier the class was presented an almost linear graph of a timeline and then shown how a vortex derives from one point and then collapses and reverses itself. This reversal of natural time and law through the destruction of the past is a heavy aspect of The Waste Land. Ackroyd sets the scene of Pound’s “small triangular flat” where Pound introduced Lewis to Eliot. As Ackroyd points out this placed Eliot in “the centre of the really interesting cultural activities in London” at the time (56). This introduction of modernist characters along with the inner turmoil of Eliot’s life is abundantly evident in The Waste Land. As Ackroyd puts it Eliot “found himself in an environment in which art and literature were taken seriously as a living force” (57). This is the thriving culture that eventually nurtured–though maybe that is too comfortable a word– Eliot to write The Waste Land.

It humors me that Ackroyd accounts that at first, Eliot was hesitant about his relationship with Pound. That is in stark contrast to the man who eventually sought out the advice of Pound and praised Pound as the better artist in Eliot’s most powerful work. Eliot’s relationship to others and his contrast to Pound fascinates me as a source of development in Eliot’s life. His relationship with women in general and later his toxic relationship with his wife have clear resonance in The Waste Land. His relationship with others, such as Pound, Lewis, and Vivienne, along with his dark psychic visions–as described by other biographers of Eliot– led to his gloomy prophecy.


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