T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’: Bildungsroman and the European Mind

Literature, if written well, has an intense power over the reader forcing them to question their own ideals as well as the ideals of the society they live in. Literature has the ability to make a reader transform and redefine what’s important whilst touching the reader’s soul, giving them a glimpse into a part of themselves they never knew existed.

I have chosen to base my dissertation on the genre of bildungsroman, a Germanic originated genre that encompasses coming-of-age literature. This literature follows the individual’s life from their formative years, through adolescence and into their adulthood. I have taken T.S. Eliot’s famous 1922 modernist poem, The Waste Land and have read it as a bildungsroman homing in on the three key stages of the culture (birth, maturity and decay) of the European mind and the collective minds of Europe.

This dissertation resonates with me on a personal level as I have a deep interest in coming-of-age literature and have used a modernist masterpiece to provide a new perspective into the literary commentary of the European culture. I was fortunate enough to receive a 1:1 for this project and I have enjoyed working on this piece this last semester.

Please find a copy of my dissertation and I hope you enjoy reading this piece as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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