Modernist Techniques in Hemingway and Eliot's Works

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mww27-narrative texnique:

Verbal economy and precision supplemented with a psychology of impersonality - uses a classical style to redeem the fragmentation, loss of value, and chaos from the war. He uses writing to produce clarity, simplicity, and strength of statement and expression, learned from his journalistic practice.

  • Clean and hard prose, with simple declarative sentences built on nouns without adverbial or descriptive excess.
  • Mostly coordination, rarely subordination.
  • Style emphasized dialogue and vivid description.
  • Eyipsis, stripping away any excess.


The whole point of the poem is to show the meaninglessness of modern culture.

  • This poem shares many characteristics with the cantos.
  • It's not an imagist poem because it has 5 sections.
  • The poem begins with an epic wrat in classical Latin, in Greek, and Italian. Educated people will understand what it said, that's why he didn't include a note.


The principles of imagism, as outlined by Ezra Pound and Richard Aldington (compiled 1912):

  • Direct treatment of the 'ting' whether subjective or objective.
  • To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
  • Regarding the rhythm: to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in the sequence of a metronome.

Modernist Aspects:

Pound would later declare, 'Eliot's Waste Land is, I think, the justification of the 'movement,' of our modern experiment, since 1900.'

  • Displays the disillusionment, hopelessness, failure, and cynicism of modern life. Throughout the poem, we have experienced the same failure in different moods and situations. Loss of faith is one of the worst features that modern life is bearing in its heart (after WWI).
  • Cubist use of collage - assembling 'fragments' or 'broken images' from the past into a sort of mosaic allows him to suggest parallels between contemporary problems and earlier historical situations and to disorient the reader, turning the reading process into a model of modern, urban confusion.

Formal Analysis:

At first draft, we can see that throughout the whole poem there is constant irregularity. The elements of each section differ, different characters, times... Irregularity implies juxtaposition, that is the way of creating the poem as a succession of elements, objects, moments, transitions with no context, not logical to see how these new juxtapositions work together. This was utterly new.

  • Structure is deliberately fragmented, leaving traditional forms for free verse to juxtaposed monologues interwoven with conversations emphasizing spiritual decay. Strong enjambments which mark the end of the line are there for current rhythm. The form transmits action, continuity.

Eliot thinks that new poetry should be impersonal. The different languages belong to the allusions or to another speaker coming out of nowhere, constantly changing the voices moving from one perspective to another without translation. The author does this because this gives the poem a sense of internationality/cultural context. Multiplicity of voices because they represent the world.

  • Modern London as an arid wasteland, populated by ghostly figures (Stetson). Physical, moral, and spiritual decay symbolized by the rats and garbage surrounding the city. In this decaying landscape appear Buddha and St. A, who represent the Western philosophy unable to transcend the world.
  • Metaphors look into the past: against the traditional idea of the seasons. 'Breeding lilacs out of the dead land' - the word breeding contrasts completely with dead. 'Memory is the past, desire is the present.' 'April is the cruelest month' taken from Chaucer. One word excludes the other, oxymoron. April is supposed to be when spring begins, the beginning of life, it is not supposed to be 'cruel'. The stanza is composed by continuous juxtaposition/parataxis. The lines referring to Marie are more emotional because it goes back to a memory. 'Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.' It's an image.
The text is truly arrogant as only a few are meant to understand and grasp the fragmented work. Eliot uses his knowledge of the literary canon to address the downfall of humanity due to greed and the need for instant satisfaction. All of these techniques are used to declare his objections of the morally corrupt world.
The poet seeks to address modern problems - the war, industrialization, abortion, urban life - and at the same time to participate in a literary tradition.

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