Wasteland & Redemption
This portal was curated by:

WASTELAND & REDEMPTION

Frazer's The Golden Bough connects the beginnings of organized religion to pagan fertility rituals. In From Ritual to Romance, Weston applies Frazer's ideas to the legend of the Holy Grail. Prominent figures in Weston's reading are the Fisher King, the immortal guardian of the Grail, and Percival, a knight from Arthur's court. The Grail itself is usually imagined as a chalice used during the Last Supper or Crucifixion.

Stories of the Fisher King vary in detail but usually share key features. The Fisher King is crippled by a magical wound and spends his days fishing on a lake near his castle. His lands are desolate, infertile, as a result of his wound. The knight Percival eventually comes to the castle of the Fisher King in search of the Holy Grail. Percival heals the king, restoring the land to fertility and becoming keeper of the grail. (See the note to line 202 for more about Percival.)

Following Frazer, Weston connects the story of the Fisher King to ancient fertility rituals, linking the king's health to that of his land. Eliot credits much of the structure of The Waste Land to Weston's book. The waste land created by the Fisher King's wound serves as the central image of the poem, and the king himself appears several times:
DATABASES
Frazer's The Golden Bough connects the beginnings of organized religion to pagan fertility rituals. In From Ritual to Romance, Weston applies Frazer's ideas to the legend of the Holy Grail. Prominent figures in Weston's reading are the Fisher King, the immortal guardian of the Grail, and Percival, a knight from Arthur's court. The Grail itself is usually imagined as a chalice used during the Last Supper or Crucifixion.

Stories of the Fisher King vary in detail but usually share key features. The Fisher King is crippled by a magical wound and spends his days fishing on a lake near his castle. His lands are desolate, infertile, as a result of his wound. The knight Percival eventually comes to the castle of the Fisher King in search of the Holy Grail. Percival heals the king, restoring the land to fertility and becoming keeper of the grail. (See the note to line 202 for more about Percival.)

Following Frazer, Weston connects the story of the Fisher King to ancient fertility rituals, linking the king's health to that of his land. Eliot credits much of the structure of The Waste Land to Weston's book. The waste land created by the Fisher King's wound serves as the central image of the poem, and the king himself appears several times:
Frazer attempted to define the shared elements of religious belief and scientific thought, discussing fertility rites, human sacrifice, the dying god, the scapegoat, and many other symbols and practices whose influences had extended into 20th-century culture.[2] His thesis is that old religions were fertility cults that revolved around the worship and periodic sacrifice of a sacred king. Frazer proposed that mankind progresses from magic through religious belief to scientific thought.[2]
T. S. Eliot’sThe Waste Land, together with its notes, first popularizedThe Golden Boughwith literary audiences. But actually William Butler Yeats was, so far as can be ascertained, the first modern writer to register his awareness ofThe Golden Boughas relevant to the symbolic language of literature. InThe Wind Among the Reeds(1899) Yeats has a long note to his poem “The Valley of the Black Pig” which shows clearly that he has been acquiring an intimate knowledge of anthropology and comparative religion. First there is an account of the merging of legend and politics in...
In his opening headnote on The Waste Land, Eliot sends us to two works. One is Jessie Weston’s From Ritual to Romance, which he suggests can shed light on the title, structure, and symbolism of his poem. The other is a work to which Weston herself is indebted: Sir James G. Frazer’s monumental study of comparative religion, The Golden Bough. Eliot acknowledges Frazer this way: “To another work of anthropology I am indebted in general, one which has influenced our generation profoundly; I mean The Golden Bough; I have used especially the two volumes Adonis, Attis, Osiris. Anyone who is acquainted with these works will immediately recognise in the poem certain references to vegetation ceremonies” (CP 70).
Eliot -  In many ways, then, The Waste Land brings together the mythic concerns of modernism in a particularly concrete manner.  Weston�s From Ritual to Romance is a work of cultural anthropology that belongs to modernism, although it is not specifically a �literary� work.  Weston�s work, like Frazer�s Golden Bough, helped give renewed authority to the founding legends of English history, in particular the Arthurian legends, because Weston and Frazer connected these legends with the most ancient myths and religions.  In many ways, Eliot�s The Waste Land offers itself as a special kind of �cultural anthropology,� because it depends upon a complex set of mythic, religious, and literary references (allusions) that at first appear unrelated, but on �closer reading,� reveal shared concerns, thematic relations that are themselves part of the solution to the �waste land� condition.  The �Grail Knight� who helps �answer� the riddles at the Chapel Perilous and thus revives the Fisher King is thus some version of the Poet for Eliot.  The very act of creating the poetic relations among different historical materials incorporated into the poem is Eliot�s �answer� to the riddle of modern London.  That �poetic� answer in his essay, �Tradition and the Individual Talent.�
Visit our special guest curator
Related Portals:
 
Related Portals: