ABSTRACT

This concentrates on uneasy insertions of informality in T. S. Eliot’s work. Analyzing the evolution of Eliot’s attitudes to formality by tracing contempt and the use of slang in Eliot’s early poems through poetry from his middle career, including The Waste Land, I argue that Eliot’s hermeticism has its signature in a withholding of self-consciousness from various figures and in disgust at modern informality. Especially in The Waste Land, these dynamics reflect an anxious contempt that produces a deadlock between form and attitude in Eliot’s poetry. His arguments against vulgarity and his attitudes to colloquialism lead his works to an aesthetic, emotional, and political impasse.