“What are the Roots that Clutch?”: Eliot’s The Waste Land and Frazer’s The Golden Bough

  • Lionel Kelly


In his notes to The Waste Land Eliot suggests the relationship between his own text and others; and I suspect that the note about The Golden Bough is where recent generations of Frazer’s readers have started from:

To another work of anthropology I am indebted in general, one which has influenced our generation profoundly; I mean The Golden Bough; I have used especially the two volumes Adonis, Attis, Osiris. Anyone who is acquainted with these works will immediately recognise in the poem certain references to vegetation ceremonies.1


Contemporary History Sacred Rite Secret Agent Religious Consciousness Primitive Culture 
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  1. 1.
    T. S. Eliot, Collected Poems 1909–1962 ( London: Fabe rand Faber, 1966 ),p. 80.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Edmund Wilson, Axel’s Castle: A Study in the Imaginative Literature of 1890–1930 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1942), p. 106.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Fred. Eggan, “100 Years of Ethnology and Social Anthropology”, in J. O. Brew (ed.), One Hundred Years of Anthropology ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968 ), p. 122.Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    Richard Poirier, The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections ( London: Faber and Faber, 1987 ), pp. 6–7.Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    Maud Ellmann, The Poetics of Impersonality: T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound ( Hassocks: Harvester, 1987 ), p. 92.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lionel Kelly

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