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TS Eliot’s women: the unsung female voices of The Waste Land

As the epic poem turns 100, devotee Jude Rogers examines the work’s thrilling, intriguing female characters and the women who inspired Eliot, including his first love, Emily Hale, to whom he wrote more than 1,000 letters A red lever-arch folder, well-loved and battered, sits near me in my office. Throughout my adult life, it has teetered on shelves in various homes, my university dissertation about the women in TS Eliot’s best-known poem, The Waste Land, lying inside – women whose voices felt urgent to me then and still do today. First published 100 years ago this month in literary journal the Criterion, Eliot’s 434-line poem was instantly notorious. It mixed fragments of languages, religions, references from ancient poems, books, plays, opera and music hall, passages of eloquent speech and scraps of everyday conversations. It translated the restless energy of art movements such as cubism and futurism into vivid words and sounds, uprooting the possibilities of what poetry could be. Continue reading...

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