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Foster presents a convincing counter-argument that in fact, Eliot advocated as much subjectivity as Yeats. Foster addresses ‘The Wasteland’ as ‘a tortuous re-examination of the individual’s relation to his history, his world, his universe’ (Foster, 86). Through Eliot’s language, it is clear Eliot treats time and distance contemptuously as if they were ‘random accidents’ (Foster, 86). Foster further presents the argument that Eliot prioritised events both temporal and spatial, over bodies. ‘The Wasteland’ consists of events and the arbitrary individuals that permeate in between; like time, these events have little significance beyond the poet’s subjective treatment of them (Foster).
Whether mythical, literary or historical, these allusions each have an amorphous space-time existence, of which their aggregate is the mental world of poetic consciousness. The events variable quantities- time being one, differ, to Eliot, from one observer to the next (Foster, 46)
In regard to the author’s use of structure, Yeats prioritised writing in long periodic sentence that regularly sounds grammatically atypical, sweeping up syntactic fragments into a hypotactic sequence.
This forcefully constrained syntax acknowledges the existence of a speaker domesticating the chaos of modern and historical time to his subjectivity rather than being drowned in it. On the other hand, Eliot juxtaposes different time periods through paratactic syntax, acting as a mechanical rhythm of piling up one phrase after the other ‘as if the self behind syntax is overwhelmed by the flux of temporal experience and unable to order it except through cataloguing each passing moment’ (Tanaka). To further this effect, Eliot embraces enjambment in, to name just one example, the lines ‘Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither / Living nor dead, and I knew nothing’ (Eliot, 39-40).
Contributing to the lack of closure and Eliot’s subjective relativity concerning time, these lines bounce too and fro, never truly connecting.
In ‘The Wasteland’, time past is a wholly relative concept depending on the subjective view of the reader. Each character finds his experience isolated and foreign- there is no effective communication breaking the boundaries of sense experience (Foster). In A Game of Chess, and like Tiresias observations, Foster acknowledges whilst the pub conversation illustrates the unavailability of each character, it is the jarring refrain ‘HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME’ (Eliot, 141) that commands the page in its mocking remark on absolute ideals- here, the question is ‘time’ for what? Eliot argues this answer depends on the reader, with no one being in the indefinite position to answer for all.
From the works of three modernists, Beckett, Eliot and Yeats discussed, one can see the connection of common ideas. One cannot be sure whether the interconnectedness is due to the fact that artists were influenced by modernism, but one can assume modernism as a time period had a significant impact on the artists’ impressions. Being from completely different backgrounds is seemingly irrelevant, as they perceive the concept of time and discuss the concept of time as, universally, something unable to be altered by humans.
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