Commentary on T. S. Eliot's Poem the Waste Land: The Infertility Theme and the Poet's Unhappy Marriage

Author: Claes, Paul

Claes argues that The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot is actually indicative of infertility in his marriage. While also cracking several riddles that Eliot put into the poem, this book provides ample evidence that the work is auto-biographical in nature. Claes provides line-by-line analysis of the poem, and the introduction presents six interpretive keys facilitating a systematic decoding. Textual arrangement, thematic recurrence, metaphorical syncretism, mythical method, allegorical representation, and inter-textual reference may help the reader to penetrate the multiple mysteries of the poem.


“I am truly convinced, therefore, that literary students will not only recognize his inestimable services, but will also feel stimulated to further research themselves by his innovative and daring approach.”

-Prof. Raymond van den Broeck,
University of Antwerp

“Claes is indeed a modern Alexandrian, following in the footsteps of the founding fathers of philology. His latest book is another feat of this versatile man of letters. The author has managed to elucidate numerous puzzling passages (e.g. the ‘bad cold’ of Madame Sosostris) and to unveil the biographical mystery of The Waste Land for the very first time. His major merit is to have demonstrated the profound coherence of the most analyzed and least understood poem of the twentieth century.”

-Prof. William van Belle,
University of Louvain

“I am astonished by the width of his erudition, the precision of his elucidations, and the sophistication of his argument. I was particularly impressed by the new autobiographical reading of the poem, which seems to be the ultimate solution of an almost centenary conundrum.”

-Prof. Piet Couttenier,
University of Antwerp

Table of Contents


I. The Historical Context
II. Making of the Poem
III. The Mythical Substrate
IV. The Modernist Form
V. Six Keys of Interpretation
VI. A New Reading

I. The Burial of the Dead
II. A Game of Chess
III. The Fire Sermon
IV. Death by Water
V. What the Thunder Said

The Biographical Key
I. The Biographical Approach
II. Autobiographical Allusions
III. An Elegy?
IV. The Love Triangle
V. A Biographical Reading