Death by Exegesis

  • John Harwood


‘No contemporary poem’, declared G. S. Fraser in 1953 ‘has been subjected to more detailed analysis than The Waste Land yet no critic has either confidently assigned it to one of the traditional kinds of poetry or, if he considers it as the invention of a quite new kind of poem, has invented a new name for that kind.’2 Reviewing the situation in 1962, Fraser observed that the critical discussion was ‘still very largely inconclusive’; there was still no agreement about the genre, mode of coherence, or influence of the poem.’ A decade later, the question of genre had apparently been resolved. The Waste Land was now, by general consent, a ‘modernist’ poem; the task, therefore, was to locate it within the larger structure of ‘modernism’.


Literary Criticism Walnut Shell Individual Talent Academic Critic Ideal Reading 
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  1. 7.
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    William Carlos Williams, ‘Prologue’, Little Review (May 1919), 74–80; p. 76.Google Scholar
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    Malcolm Cowley, The Literary Situation ( New York: Random House, 1955 ), p. 19.Google Scholar
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    H. S. Gorman, ‘The Waste Land of the Younger Generation’, Literary Digest International Book Review, 1 (April 1923), 46.Google Scholar
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    Staffan Bergsten, ‘Illusive Allusions’, Orbis Litterarum, 14 (1959), 9–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    R. P. Blackmur, Annis Mirabiles 1921–1925 ( Washington: Library of Congress, 1956 ), p. 39.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Harwood 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Harwood
    • 1
  1. 1.Flinders University of South AustraliaAustralia

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