The Water Ethic: An Elemental-Ecocritical Reading of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land | Shibaji Mridha

The Water Ethic: An Elemental-Ecocritical Reading of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land | Shibaji Mridha

The Water Ethic: An Elemental-Ecocritical Reading of T S Eliot’s The Waste Land
Shibaji Mridha

Abstract: The recent scholarship has evidently established the nexus between modernism and ecocriticism which reinforces modernist writers’ anxiety of humans’ changing relationship with nature. T S Eliot, one of the high priests of modernism, not only displays the evolving urban landscape but also cautions us about an imminent diseased and dysfunctional world. To further the burgeoning ecocritical discussion for understanding Eliot’s poetry, this paper explores the depiction of one crucial elemental matter – water – in his literary masterpiece The Waste Land, and argues how water is presented as a dynamic entity in contrast to being a passive and fixed matter. Referring to some of the recent scholarship of elemental ecocriticism, eco materialism, and environmental ethics, it aims to discuss how humanity’s failure to recognize water’s agency has wrecked the earth, forcing us to live in a waste land. Thus, this paper is an attempt to read The Waste Land as a water ethic that recognizes a world of reciprocity and cautions us not to treat the non-human world as a commodity

Keywords: Elemental Ecocriticism, Water Ethic, Ecomaterialism, Revenge of the Thing

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Published in September 2020

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