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Title: Survival beyond life and death : the Buddhist transcendence of dichotomy in The Waste Land
Authors: Xiao, Chutian
Keywords: Death in literature
Life and death, Power over
Survival in literature
Discourse analysis, Literary
Buddhism in literature
Transcendence (Philosophy)
Issue Date: 2018-06
Publisher: University of Malta. Department of English
Citation: Xiao, C. (2018). Survival beyond life and death : the Buddhist transcendence of dichotomy in The Waste Land. Antae Journal, 5(2), 182-194.
Abstract: It can be argued that at the heart of The Waste Land is the supreme spiritual moment in the hyacinth garden when the speaker experiences a peculiar mode of existence in which he is neither living nor dead. The rest of the poem, to some extent, can be regarded as the interpretation of and the response to such a glimpse of survival, witness to the unification of sensibility which reconciles subjective intuition with reality. The experience is similar to Buddhist nirvana, which indicates the arrival at the other shore where the true self survives the ego and attains eternity. This essay argues that such a manner of survival is primarily Buddhist. Besides Eliot’s serious study of Buddhism at Harvard, the persistent scepticism against salvation from suffering also makes the poem more congenial to Buddhism. In the first section of the poem, the burial of the dead only leads to another circle of being and death, and renewal does not eliminate suffering. Similarly, in ‘A Game of Chess’ and ‘The Fire Sermon’ the subjective struggle to escape from various facets of life’s suffering is of no avail. The correct direction towards spiritual survival in the waste land is to let go of subjective endeavour as is explicated in the last two sections.
Appears in Collections:Antae Journal, Volume 5, Issue 2
Antae Journal, Volume 5, Issue 2

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