by Harper Jameson with W.A.W. Parker
Level 4 Press. 270 pages, $18.95
THE WASTELAND is an imaginative novel constructed around the secret gay life of poet T. S. Eliot and the creation of his monumental poem The Waste Land, which was published in 1922. It portrays Eliot as a lonely, tormented man, conflicted between finding true love and achieving literary success.
Eliot’s life and writings offer much speculation about whether he was gay. Lyndall Gordon mentions in her biography of the poet that he asked a friend whether to “take legal action over a 1952 article on his supposed homosexuality,” remarking that “that does not happen to be my temperament.” His quick marriage to his first wife Vivienne, done so he would “feel something,” seems to recapitulate the behavior of many closeted gay men.
Charles Green is a writer based in Annapolis, Maryland.