Based closely in spirit upon the most recent development in prosodic studies, Verbal Transformation, Despair, and Hope in The Waste Land attempts another round of “philosophical investigation”. The book demonstrates how The Waste Land could be read afresh in terms of the hidden verbal transformation that reveals the overlooked performative and collaborative nature of language. This verbal transformation makes The Waste Land flow naturally as truly “rhythmical creation of [meaningful] beauty” the way Poe defines poetry, especially through what Eliot calls “auditory imagination” or what Herder calls “intermediary sensation” that makes the poetry “the first language” of humanity or “the dictionary of the soul.” The verbal transformation also serendipitously makes sounds of despair the sounds of hope.
Shudong Chen is professor of humanities at Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas.
Preface: Challenge and Choice
Chapter One: The Performative Nature of Language
Chapter Two: The Revelation of the Performative Power and Verbal Functionalism of Language
Chapter Three: Futility and Hope: Retaining the Unretainable Life in Art as in Real World
Chapter Four: Turbulent Emotion that Still Moves as Sculpted in Perpetual Tranquility
Chapter Five: Sounds of Words and Sounds of Thunder and Hope
Despite its bleak title and its traditional, modernist interpretation as an expression of despair and perennial Angst, Shudong Chen’s book puts emphasis on Hope in The Waste Land and provides a new way of reading Eliot’s classic that is particularly stimulating and relevant to the world we find ourselves in at the present.