T. S. Eliot and the Writing of Waste

March 31, 2011

As the sculptural work of Cornelia Parker and Mark Dion has demonstrated, the inclusion or representation of waste reveals a key, self-reflexive quality of incorporating temporal redundancy within an artwork. The inclusion of waste in these works of art, and in the literary works considered below, foregrounds the positional nature of waste – striking distinct temporal relations between processes of deposition, composition and decomposition, motivating an engagement with the work that either acknowledges an explicit severance between times of use and non-use or plays upon their uncertain commingling. Arriving at this self-reflexive, propositional potential we might begin to comprehend the temporal positions at stake when identifying objects of waste in sculpture and literature.

Writing, as an object and a process that produces objects, can be said to give rise to various encounters with ‘textual waste’ and to an idea of waste as it is mediated by texts: on the one hand, a text can describe certain things, people and landscapes that have fallen from a temporally co-dependent relationship with human activity; on another, texts might suggest a compositional form of waste by alluding to or including the drafts, excisions or textual variants; and on a third, more ghostly limb, writing may also signify its status as an object, as a thing that might be discarded, a thing to be jettisoned. This chapter and the chapter that follows will approach these different yet intrinsically related stratum of textual waste to conclude that the significance of waste in literature cannot be reduced to one strata or another; all three play a fundamental role in how we evaluate objects within texts and how we take these things to function and perform within a literary work. For the reasons outlined in my introduction, waste plays an essential role in our attempts to apportion, organise and regulate the world of things; objects and events of waste help us to trace and retrace the passage of objects through time. Rather than focusing too much on the commonplace epithets ascribed to certain literary genres, which describe particular forms of writing as ‘trash’ or ‘pulp fiction’, the following chapters attend to the dynamic, propositional presence of redundant or exhausted things within canonical works of twentieth-century poetry and prose. Thus, the condition of waste is not considered an antithesis of ‘literature’, or writing more generally, but constitutes an essential aspect of textual formation.

Simply because a particular object has been singled out for examination, this should not exclude the formal, material or historical conditions by which that object entered a particular work of literature. The theoretical works that might guide us through this first level of textual waste, whereby objects of waste are described in a text, are relatively few in number. Francesco Orlando’s Obsolete Objects in the Literary Imagination attends to this dilemma by accumulating an extraordinary range of literary examples to construct a complex taxonomy of literary waste, a taxonomy that stabilises each example by comparison and normalisation. In doing so, Orlando provides a remarkable number of examples from European literature where particular kinds of objects come into view and, if it achieves nothing else, confirms the enduring presence of redundancy in literary works.

Orlando’s Taxonomy of Literary Waste, in Obsolete Objects in the Literary Imagination, 205.

In taking a rigorously structuralist approach to the idea of waste in literature, advancing through a taxonomy of things that “consist[s] only of binary oppositions” and “terminal contrar[ies]”, Orlando argues that literary works can confirm and conform to certain set a priori categories.[1] This matrix orders types of waste according to whether the objects described have been collectively or individually perceived, whether they appear within a natural or supernatural environment, whether they form a significant or peripheral role in the narrative, can be considered wrought or raw.[2] As a taxonomy that attempts to absorb every possible form of literary waste, the scheme assumes an air of infallibility; should Orlando’s terms be unable to account for a particular obsolete thing then the failure highlights a flaw in text concerned; where these categories cannot be satisfactorily applied, “the substance of the texts is insufficient”.[3] The images of waste that we might encounter in works of literature are to be resolved and categorised within a predetermined series of categorical bifurcations; if they cannot be categorised in this way then they cannot be considered objects of waste.

The peculiar permanence that Orlando gives the waste he reads relies almost exclusively upon the stasis and reliability of what he calls the “nonfunctional”, a term that we have already rendered problematic in various ways. In my view, concepts of waste do not simply stand in opposition to concepts of use but represent a specific relation to or augmentation of the time we make through things. So, when Orlando argues that “What is used, what is needed, what serves a purpose, what is useful: these are the contraries of those things whose images we are studying”[4], he seeks to separate his study from the categorical volatility that makes waste a fundamentally reversible condition. And Orlando overlooks one of the central paradoxes of waste: in works of literature, images of waste are frequently needed, purposeful and useful for communicating a whole range of meanings. We are left to wonder about the usefulness of including images of waste, the author’s intentions in mobilising the idea of waste in their work and the various impressions available that might not be easily termed ‘collective’ or ‘individual’, ‘pertinent’ or ‘impertinent’, ‘raw’ or ‘wrought’ but might, in fact, comprise combinations of some, none or all of those terms. Textual waste is neither absolutely terminal nor absolutely contrary to the useful time that renders it articulate. And objects of waste do not necessarily herald a time of absolute or unequivocal nonfunctionality – what is discarded by one group or individual might be instrumental to another, things might change their function over time by becoming discarded, reused or recycled. And, at a less pragmatic and more conceptual level, the temporal arrangement by which waste comes into being must reconcile the use that has passed and make the idea of use present at precisely the moment where it is said to have dissolved. In other words, we cannot take for granted a polarisation between use and waste, but must, instead, seek to understand the transient co-dependence and cross-contamination of these terms. This is as true when we confront works of sculpture and literature as it is when we confront cigarette ends found in the gutter or the refuse found at a landfill.

Whilst we have discovered some flaws with one of the few works of literary criticism that has focused on the subject of waste in literature, it provides a useful departure for what follows. In response to Orlando’s attempts, I would like to suggest that when approaching the subject of waste in literature it is a mistake to isolate the object of description from the objects that make that descriptive act possible, i.e. the inevitable waste that accompanies acts of inscription and reading. The making of texts involves the production of waste, as well as references to it – a waste in both form and in content. One of the more compelling effects of waste as it is transcribed into textual forms is its capacity “simultaneously to create a fiction and to make a statement about the creation of that fiction.”[5] This metafictional potential encourages a relay between the various methods of making things, whether decaying, dissolving or going to waste, and the innumerable things that appear before us, either on the page or screen. Just as waste facilitated an analysis of productive destruction, decay and recovery that were felt to be intrinsic to the artistic practice of Parker and Dion, so we should try to understand the relationship between the textual descriptions of waste and the qualitative act of producing a thing called a ‘text’; that is to say, we should look to how waste is not simply a passive and inactive species of object, innocently tucked into works of literature for the pleasure of those with a penchant for the redundant, but as an idea that informs the construction, consumption and deconstruction of literature more broadly. These are some of the principles and ambitions that motivate the criticism below, loosening some of the burden of literary variety for the sake of a more thoroughgoing theory of how waste and writing intersect. If one assumes that literature must make recourse to a material text, then the value of waste in literature resides in the relationship between its content and the textual medium.

The following chapters concentrate on the work of just two writers, T. S. Eliot and James Joyce, in order to exemplify a number of pertinent areas where ideas of ‘waste’ and ‘literature’ intersect. In restricting myself to a narrow range of authors I hope to give greater room to the theoretical implications of the thesis as a whole and, in particular, to explore the ways in which we both compose and decompose meaning when assessing the effects of waste in and upon the literary. What might be lost in not highlighting the importance of discarded things in the work of Shakespeare, Swift, Sterne, Shelley, Keats and Dickens, as well as the modern and the contemporary writers with whom the concept of waste can be readily associated,[6] might be compensated by a more thorough-going and comprehensive analysis of how waste converses with the idea of the literary, the images that are created and the textual things that mediate their potential.

As a literature that contemplates the leftovers of literature, the poetry of T. S. Eliot has gained some of its distinction through the identification and mobilisation of waste, both as an object of writing and a critical concept used to interpret that writing. At an immediate level, Eliot’s poetry is composed of substances spent, discards of image and text that seem to at once achieve and to resist the condition of absolute redundancy; there seems no end “To the drift of the sea and the drifting wreckage” (CPP 186).[7] But it is not simply a literature dominated by images of discarded things, nor is it simply a literature about discarded things, but a literature that seems uncannily aware of what remains of its composition, a poetics that positions Eliot’s work among the residues of his texts and countless others. And, whilst this poetics of residua absorbs within it a whole range of modernist mantras – to ‘make it new’ and to ‘make it difficult’[8] – it keenly pursues one other, less observed imperative: to ‘make it waste.’ This final imperative, though rarely acknowledged and partially achieved, accounts for the difficulty of Eliot’s writing as a productive and reflexive effect of wasted words.

We will not begin where one might expect but, instead, with a notebook, a notebook of early poems and poetic fragments that was sold by Eliot to the patron and collector John Quinn in 1922, as replete with vacant spaces as The Waste Land and an important source for that work. For many years after Quinn’s death in 1924 it was thought that this notebook had been lost or destroyed. There were a number of instances when Eliot expressed his opinion of this work. The first occurs just a few months before the publication of The Waste Land, when Eliot sent Quinn the notebook: “You will find a great many sets of verse which have never been printed and which I am sure you will agree never ought to be printed, and in putting them in your hands, I beg you fervently to keep them to yourself and see they are never printed.”[9] In a letter dated 28th July 1963, Eliot refers to the contents of this missing notebook as “unpublished and unpublishable”[10] and, in another letter to Daniel Woodward a year later, “I cannot feel altogether sorry that this [typescript] and the notebook have disappeared. The unpublished poems in the notebook were not worth publishing.”[11] These poems were not lost, however, but tucked away in a box and later bought by the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library in 1958. Their acquisition was announced to the general public ten years later, on the 25th October 1968.[12] Access to these works was limited until in 1996, when they were published as the collection Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909–1917 and for the first time scholars interested in Eliot’s notebook were permitted to take direct quotations from it. This might seem an unremarkable case of emancipated juvenilia; work the author had hoped would remain a unique and private thing emerging into the light of public scrutiny. But the notebook’s contents and unpublished status, cancellation and subsequent publication, prove highly relevant to our consideration of textual, technical and material value. Its passage from manuscript draft to published work shows an alternative trajectory to The Waste Land, which was published in The Criterion, The Dial and as a book in 1922, but also as manuscript facsimiles in 1971. We will have time to consider what effect the publication of The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Typescript of the Original Drafts did for the understanding of that poem, but not before attending to the dynamic waste content of Inventions of the March Hare.

Discarded Inventions: Inscription on Eliot’s First Flyleaf

The notebook’s title represents a synecdoche for the changing fortunes of its contents. Inscribed “INVENTIONS OF THE MARCH HARE” on the first flyleaf, Eliot later cancelled out these words by replacing them on the front free endpaper with, “COMPLETE POEMS OF / T. S. Eliot” alongside a dedication to Jean Verdenal and an epigraph taken from Dante. Comparing Eliot’s habits in naming and dedicating his work, Christopher Ricks makes the case that Eliot probably changed the title when he knew that the contents of the notebook were to go unpublished, “between 1920 and 1925 […] when he sold it to Quinn in 1922.”[13] Double-named, no-named, one can only wonder whether Eliot deleted the former title and added the latter because he knew that ‘The Complete Poems’ was an unpublishable title for an undesirable publication. His notebook did not include the poem that had made him famous and the notebook’s fragmentary, protean correspondence to his later, published work would show it to be wholly incomplete; an embarrassing work in progress. No doubt conscious of how an act of naming can help legitimise a new publication, Ricks recovers and reinstates the cancelled title, cancelling Eliot’s cancellation. The title, ‘Inventions of the March Hare’, according to Ricks, is “likely to be less inappropriate than any other [title], as memorable, and as figuring in TSE’s correspondence.”[14] Such editorial interventions into the work of a dead writer are certainly not unusual and the cancellation of words, phrases and whole passages from a text are to be expected in a notebook to which time was given to “visions and revisions”. But what seems telling about the title and its sardonic ghost intimates the temporal relation between invention and completion, between the sketches discarded as “unpublishable” and the apparent closure of a ‘complete’ work, not to mention the figures of waste that Eliot so regularly employs to reflect how his work has been composed, what it describes and the material things it requires to make that process of composition and description possible.

During an interview in 1959 Eliot would observe, “As a rule, with me an unfinished thing is a thing that might as well be rubbed out. It’s better, if there’s something good in it that I might make use of it elsewhere, to leave it at the back of my mind than on paper in a drawer. If I leave it in a drawer it remains the same thing but if it’s in the memory it becomes transformed into something else.”[15] As a rule, things are rarely so simple. The poems in Inventions of the March Hare are works that have been rubbed out, placed in a drawer and transformed into something else; they reflect a number of possible material outcomes. But their presence in the wider body of Eliot’s writings, as both a source and another conclusion to the works published in his lifetime, means that being left at the back of drawer means that a work can still be available for reuse; those poems that were never published by Eliot became important sources for his published work. It would seem that, as time passes, the distinctions between rubbing out, remembering or discarding draft material prove far from absolute, especially when it comes to the detritus that Eliot employs in his early poems. ‘First Caprice in North Cambridge’ and ‘Second Caprice in North Cambridge’ are both manuscripts written in blue ink, composed in November 1909 and reproduced in typescript for Inventions of the March Hare:

‘First Caprice in North Cambridge’

A street-piano, garrulous and frail;
The yellow evening flung against the panes
Of dirty windows: and in distant strains
Of children’s voices, ended in a wail.

Bottles and broken glass,                                                  5
Trampled mud and grass;
A heap of broken barrows;
And a crowd of tattered sparrows
Delve in the gutter with sordid patience.
Oh, these minor considerations! . . . . .                            10

                                                                                         (IMH, 5)

Readers familiar with the work that was published during Eliot’s lifetime will recognise a number of tropes and images, many of which relate to images of waste. Compare “The yellow evening flung against the panes” (2) with the “yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes” found in ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (CPP, 13), or “Bottles and broken glass, / Trampled mud and grass” (5–6) with the “Our dried voices [...] As wind in dry grass / or rats’ feet over broken glass” found in The Hollow Men (CPP, 83). Finally, and most pertinent to this study, “A heap of broken barrows” resonates with and anticipates one of the most cited lines from The Waste Land: “A heap of broken images” (I.22).[16] Inventions of the March Hare is full of these whispers and sketches, migratory phrases that we can recognise as being put to use “elsewhere”. That it should be images of waste that brings this pattern of use, reuse and rubbing out to light only seems to intensify certain compositional processes of textual variation, revision and self-reference. Firstly, the appearance of “A heap of broken barrows” shows that, thirteen years prior to the publication of The Waste Land, Eliot was taking serious interest in the capacity of waste to figure semantic and visual fragmentation. Secondly, the “broken barrows” of ‘First Caprice’, which might signify animal, tumuli or tool, carries a productive uncertainty that feels at odds with the reparative promise of Eliot’s end-rhymes (glass/grass, barrows/sparrows), foretelling a tension between lyric enclosure and figurative multiplicity that can be readily traced into The Waste Land and the works that followed. And it is important to note how the catalogue of waste found in ‘First Caprice’, an inventory of muddy and discarded matter, presses against a sense of formal poetic containment. It is the specificity of waste that makes this not just a formal or semantic complexity but a lingering temporal one too – these frail, dirty, broken, trampled things remain to be considered, to be reworked, reused and open to renewed assessment. Bringing a deliberate and formal momentum to the gutter, the final lines are both a statement and summary of minor tone and reflect the temporal openness of waste, a reflexive declaration of provisional exhaustion. The final ellipsis marks both the failure to say more and the promise that these images will continue to reverberate and reappear, as they do so in Eliot’s next caprice:

‘Second Caprice in North Cambridge’

The charm of vacant lots!
The helpless fields that lie
Sinister, sterile and blind –
Entreat the eye and rack the mind,
Demand your pity.                                                     5
With ashes and tins in piles,
Shattered bricks and tiles
And the débris of the city.

Far from our definitionAnd our aesthetic laws    10
Let us pause.
With these fields that hold and rack the brain
(What: again?)
With an unexpected charm
And an unexpected repose                                         15
On an evening in December
Under a sunset yellow and rose.

                                                                                           (IMH, 15)

Whilst textual scholars such as Lyndall Gordon have argued that Eliot began writing the early fragments of The Waste Land in 1914, reading the detritus of Inventions of the March Hare reveals how Eliot’s interest in images of waste can be found scattered throughout his earlier work.[17] And it is the relentless and recurrent aspects of waste, the temporal disjunctures that makes it an actively redundant thing, which allows us to trace its passage through Eliot’s writing and expand the traditional, historical horizons given to the genesis of his later works. Waste is encountered as a strange and compelling object, with “unexpected charm” (14) these “vacant lots” (1), scattered with broken bricks and tiles, might demand pity but they also “entreat the eye and rack the mind” (4) and give pause to the conventions of philosophic discourse. Eliot produces this sense of surprise and enchantment through a canny circularity of phrase and a rhyming self-reproach, “With these fields that hold and rack the brain / (What: again?)” (12–13). Here is matter that persists in the mind in order to be taken up again in other circumstances, matter for which the future is open and without obvious closure. In the description of these vacant lots lies an involuntary aspect of Eliot’s theory of composition and memory that we noted earlier; the incomplete, vacant contents of his writing are used to signify the compulsion to write, the compulsion to respond to the salient intellectual and poetic ‘demands’ of waste. The “unfinished thing” causes a problem both materially and mentally for Eliot, prompting him to glean the unfinished object for anything that might be used again in another form. “It might as well be rubbed out”, if it is to be reused it must be left “at the back of my mind.” The failure of the draft, its incompletion makes it available for reuse, recollection and permutation; in this openness comes the force to hold and rack the mind.

The repetitions of waste in Eliot are twofold, especially when reading Inventions of the March Hare: these poems describe the outward performance of gleaning wastes for their poetic effects whilst giving an implicit, reflexive performance of drafting, discarding and retaining ideas for subsequent use. In what will be a key and revisited scene, the waste land will never be entirely “Sinister, sterile and blind” (3) but also the scene of contemplation, meditation and unforeseen light, a waste land that holds and racks the mind in a way that will secure its reprise in later works. Both with respect to the individual poem and within the context of Eliot’s wider oeuvre, ‘Second Caprice in North Cambridge’ displays a waste for repeated viewing and, typical of Eliot, one that cannot be easily understood as the ‘source’ for later work since it contains a passage written by another writer. It is, in this respect, at the intersection of a huge variety of textual wastes, both forwards and backwards in time. Note the tins, piles, vacant lots and rosiness found in Henry James’ The Bostonians:

the red sunsets of winter [...] a collective impression of the meanness of boards and tin and frozen earth, sheds and rotting piles [...] loose fences, vacant lots, mounds of refuse, yards bestrewn with iron pipes, telegraph poles, and bare wooden backs of places. Verena thought such a view lovely, and she was by no means without excuse when as the afternoon closed, the ugly picture was tinted with a clear, cold rosiness.[18]

These are images of animated desolation to which Eliot will again turn in when drafting ‘Preludes’ in his Inventions notebook; a poem first drafted eleven months after his first and second caprice and containing the mutated, discarded scraps, lots and images we found in those poems.[19] In section I of ‘Preludes’, gusts of wind wrap “grimy scraps / Of withered leaves about your feet / And newspapers from vacant lots” (IMH, I.5–8), section III speaks of “a thousand sordid images” (IMH III.27) and “the sparrows in the gutters” (IMH III.32), whilst section IV will conclude with the thought that “worlds revolve like ancient women / gathering fuel in vacant lots” (IMH IV.54–55). All these images of waste and redundancy we can find in earlier work, proving that Eliot’s deployment of waste occurs not by casual accident but by a discontinuous yet traceable migration from draft to draft, notebook to notebook to publication; by trial and repetition these images become animate, move, migrate and attain mutation in their multiplicity. It is in the publication of ‘Preludes’, first in Wyndham Lewis’ Blast (July 1915) and then as part of Prufrock and Other Observations (1917), that all these images of waste become publicly distilled and consumed, meanwhile, the discarded caprices remain left in a drawer and, later, secreted in the collections of the New York Public Library until their publication by Harcourt in 1996. When Eliot argues that something kept in the mind is more likely to be reused elsewhere this does not detract from the fact that we can trace this process of reuse through the trail of discarded material left behind, the drawer can be reopened and patterns of use can be described through acts of disposal.

We must revisit, as Eliot did, the value of these vacant lots: the phrase alludes to spaces and objects to be bought, sold and resold, to the actual landscapes of Boston described by Henry James, to the poems that compose Inventions of the March Hare. It might be easy to dismiss Eliot’s vacant lots as minor stanzas within the Eliot estate. Jayme Stayer has been keen to keep these poems in the drawer that Eliot cast them into. Stayer argues that the poems of Inventions of the March Hare, and the ‘Caprice’ poems in particular, show an “insecurity on the poet’s part as to whether or not his new-found tools are working […] the images of sordidness cannot be trusted to do the work he intends.”[20] Finding that various rhetorical and technical aspects of these poems to be “unconvincing”, “forced” or “derivative”, Stayer concludes that the notebook prepared Eliot for “the public stage of poetry” but is full of inferior and unfinished works.[21] But Stayer seems to degrade the potential of juvenilia or manuscript notebooks, reinforcing the rarity and singularity of the published and ‘definitive’ work over and above all the fascinating insights that draft material can provide. Failing to account for the way in which Inventions of the March Hare has, indeed, found publication, Stayer emphasises the oppositional status between draft and publication and, by employing the uncertain images of sordidness that he found so unsatisfactory:

The chaff of the notebook – its rhetorical uncertainties, self–defeating gestures, and pornographic excrescences – Eliot will sweep away, and to the public he will present the wheat that is left over: the telling allusions, hallucinatory squalor, transcendent intimations, muted suffering, eclectic fear, bilious ennui, all of it spoken, sung, or growled in virtuosic registers of irony, obliquity, deadpan, and directness.[22]

As our brief analysis of waste in the early work of Eliot has shown, Inventions of the March Hare is a vacant lot from which critics might gather their fuel. If there is such a thing as ‘chaff’ then it cannot be swept away as easily as Stayer or, perhaps, Eliot would like us to believe. This is partly due to the images of waste that are retained, reworked, refashioned and made to reverberate in more popular or accessible poems, images that describe both the transitory contents of drafts and their base materiality. It is the provisional and temporary nature of writing waste and creating the waste of writing that allows this matter to spill into and inhabit a text assumed to be free of its effects.

Although modern manuscript studies frequently stresses the difference between published and unpublished versions of the text, to note changes in meaning, structure or effect, and often to reinforce a calculating and taxonomic separation between draft and publication, our brief analysis of Eliot’s wasted revisions issues certain textual and interpretative challenges that complicate this separation. Tracing Eliot’s preoccupation with waste from around the time that the ‘Caprice’ poems were written, through to, as is our aim, the publication and critical reception of The Waste Land, will lead us to question the exclusive and independent status of the ‘published’ or ‘complete’ work. When Eliot said that the “unpublished poems in the notebook were not worth publishing”, he might be said to overlook how his published poems frequently contained the poetic residues of those unpublished drafts and that publishing one version and not another must account for their process of validation. Such a view must lead us to confront the way in which unpublished and published materials penetrate and contaminate one another, especially when ‘unpublished’ drafts are then made available as published facsimiles or typescripts. Just as other chapters have been keen to stress that there can be no such thing as an absolute form of waste, just the contingent separation of use and waste in time, so it is that manuscript or draft material cannot be expected to remain inert when interpreting works of literature. Such a view of writing means that we can supplement some views about literary composition and the writing of The Waste Land. The first concerns the ‘scene of writing’ and the stories told regarding literary manufacture. For example, it is commonly held that Eliot struggled and struggled with The Waste Land until finally, and with a lot of help from Ezra Pound, the work came together in the miraculous summer of 1922. Some have suggested that Eliot conjured the poem from nothing; he “found himself” writes Louis Menard, “with nothing to construct a poem on”.[23] But by tracing the figure and figuration of waste, the discarded scraps and drafts that preceded The Waste Land and the phrases, images and atmospheres they conjure, we can show that the construction of the poem can be found in the deconstructed wastes of earlier works. In other words, we can challenge where the composition of The Waste Land is said to have begun, an important point for a poem which throws doubt over its functional ends and beginnings. The second commonly held belief that we can supplement is the idea that The Waste Land should be understood primarily as an exchange between the text and the intertexts it alludes to and transforms, as a competitive game between Eliot and the Western canon. Whilst this intertexuality is no doubt a fundamental and distinctive aspect of Eliot’s poetic method, it overlooks the intratextual aspect of his work. That is, the correspondences established between the various kinds of writing he has authored and the sedimentation and redundancy required to shore up his work. This proves an important compositional dynamic of hoarding, storage and reuse. As Richard Badenhausen observes, “[Eliot] often scribbled fragments of verse and then hoarded them for a later time when they might blossom into larger works or be inserted into another text.”[25] The compositional and interpretative importance of so-called ‘intratexuality’ will help us appreciate not just the scene of writing but the multiple scenes of writing and rewriting, unearthing an author’s compositional relation to the texts of others and their own, both published and unpublished.

[...]

[1] Francesco Orlando, Obsolete Objects in the Literary Imagination: Ruins, Relics, Rarities, Rubbish, Uninhabited Places and Hidden Treasure, trans. Gabriel Philas, Daniel Seidel and Alessandra Grego (New Haven: Yale UP, 2006) 79, 102.

[2] For Orlando’s schematic in full, see Francesco Orlando, Obsolete Objects in the Literary Imagination 205.

[3] Francesco Orlando, Obsolete Objects 207.

[4] Orlando, Obsolete Objects 102.

[5] Patricia Waugh, Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction (1984; London: Routledge, 1996) 6.

[6] See Susan Cahill, Emma Hegarty and Emilie Morin, ed, SubStance 116, 37: 2, 2008.

[7] These and subsequent references are taken from T. S. Eliot, The Complete Poems and Plays of T. S. Eliot (1963; London: Faber, 1969). Brief quotations will be cited as CPP with page references, additional line numbers accompany more extensive quotation.

[8] These are the mantras suggested by Sean Latham, Joyce’s Modernism (Dublin: National Library of Ireland, 2004) 1–3.

[9] T.S. Eliot, The Letters of T. S. Eliot: Volume I 1898–1922, ed. John Haffenden (London: Faber, 2009) 749.

[10] Quoted in B. L. Reid, The Man from New York: John Quinn and His Friends ([…], 1968), 540.

[11] Daniel H. Woodward, Notes on the Publishing History and Text of The Waste Land (Papers of the Bibliographic Society of America, lviii, 1964) 268.

[12] See Christopher Ricks, “Preface”, in Inventions of the March Hare, ed. Christopher Ricks (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 1996) xiii. [xi–xxxiii]

[13] Christopher Ricks, Inventions of the March Hare (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 1996) 4.

[14] Ricks, Inventions 5.

[15] T. S. Eliot, “T. S. Eliot, The Art of Poetry No. 1” Interviewed by Donald Hall, 1959. Online: <http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4738/the-art-of-poetry-no-1-t-s-eliot&gt;. Accessed 2nd October 2010.

[16] Quotations from The Waste Land are from the 1922 edition, reprinted in T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Typescript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound, ed. Valerie Eliot (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 1971) 133–149.

[17] Lyndall Gordon, “The Waste Land Manuscript”, American Literature, Vol. 45, No. 4 (Jan., 1974), pp. 557-570. John T. Mayer is one of the few critics to have traced the relations between the Inventions notebook and The Waste Land but makes no mention of waste, see John T. Mayer, “The Waste Land and Eliot’s Poetry Notebook”, in T. S. Eliot: The Modernist in History, ed. Ronald Bush (Cambridge: CUP, 1991) 67–90, esp. 72 .

[18] Henry James, The Bostonians, ed. R. D. Gooder (1886; Oxford: OUP, 1984) 167, 168.

[19] See ‘[Preludes]’, Inventions of a March Hare, 334–337.

[20] Jayme Stayer, “In Search of the Early Eliot: Inventions of the March Hare” in David E. Chintz ed., A Companion to T. S. Eliot (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009) 117. [107–119]

[21] Jayme Stayer, “In Search of the Early Eliot” 117, 188.

[22] Stayer, 188.

[23] Louis Menard, Discovering Modernism: T. S. Eliot and His Context, Second Edition (Oxford: OUP, 2007) 76.

[25] Richard Badenhausen, T. S. Eliot and the Art of Collaboration (Cambridge: CUP, 2004) 75.

One Response to “T. S. Eliot and the Writing of Waste”


  1. [...] Marginalia fall under the wider category of ancient practice of scholia; extra notes, scribbles and comments made by readers in the margin of a book. Categories of marginalia include Emendation (correction), Transcription, Glosses or Annotation – the formal method of embellishing a literary work with critical commentary i.e to gloss a text, Rubrics (like Scholia & glosses these are ” structural marginalia”, meant to be read),  Footnotes & Citation, references Dead Media Archive. They represent the active negotiation of a text by a Reader, the meaning lying somewhere between the producer and the receiver in ‘the margin of understanding’. (I have appropriated this term from the Cultural Theorist Stuart Hall, a leading exponent of Reception theory). Stanley Fish, key theorist of Reader Response theoryemphasised, among other things, the transaction between the textual control of  the reader and how the reader re/creates a text. This marginal space then lies somewhere between the public & the private and can be reagarded as a social phenomenon. Marginalia exist both as the conception of serious works in their own right or preparatory drafts for major works including Voltaire’s marginalia on Rousseau, Edgar Allen Poe’s  ‘fragmentary manuscript material’ entitled Marginalia 1845 – 1948 as well as the publishing of a number of volumes of marginalia by  Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Alsdo relevant although it constitutes more of a critical commentary is the famous edit of T.S Eliot’s The Wasteland by Ezra Pound whci currently forms part of my research on fragmentary writing, artifice and in/direct quotation/citation. For further rumination on the idea of waste in art please visit https://narratingwaste.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/t-s-eliot-and-the-writing-of-waste/. [...]


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