In 1922, T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), an American living in England, published The Waste Land, widely viewed as perhaps the greatest and most iconic poem of the twentieth century. Virginia Woolf recognized its power immediately, praising it for its “great beauty and force of phrase: symmetry and tensity.” And yet, as nearly a hundred years’ worth of readers and critics have found, its tangle of cultural and literary references can confound as well as compel. Who was T.S. Eliot? What was Modernism and how did he fit into it? What’s The Waste Land about? And what can it offer today’s readers?
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