English Literature » Notes » Hemingway’s Wasteland

Hemingway’s Wasteland

Hemingway gains prominence among writers because he has the advantage of being a participant and eyewitness of the First World War. He voluntarily takes part in it as an ambulance driver and work on the Italian front: Hemingway completes his “The Sun Also Rises” in 1925 whereas, T. S. Eliot wrote “The Waste Land” in 1921. Both of these writers lament on the glory of bygone days and the bankruptcy of human ideals in the modern world. The close resemblance between the theme and the treatment of theme of “The Wasteland” and “The Sun Also Rises” compels certain critics to say that “The Sun Also Rises” is the prose version of “The Wasteland”. It is not mush important to investigate whether Hemingway had studied “The Wasteland” or not. The most important factor is that both Hemingway and T.S. Eliot present similar views of their time and use images and ideas in a common context. Therefore, we can enhance our understanding about their common images by comparison.

Both, Hemingway and T. S. Eliot use the idea of a protagonist who is physically sterile. Jake Barnes in “The Sun Also Rises” and Tiresias in “The Wasteland” have a parallel between them because both remain apart from the world around them and both are the passive observers of the sexual encounters taking place before them. The nature of the sexual relationships of the characters in “The Sun Also Rises” has close resemblance with the sexual relationship presented in “The Wasteland”. Both the books witness that sex occupies a very prominent place in modern place and, unfortunately, today sex has become merely an animal urge without any moral or social commitment. In wasteland, T. S. Eliot presents the mechanical approach to sexual relationship.

There is also a similarity between the passage of “The Hyacinth Girl” in the Wasteland and the lost part of the novel where Jake and Brett are all alone in the taxi.

There is another great similarity in “The Wasteland” and “The Sun Also Rises” as the central character in “The Wasteland” is also seen as the Fisher King while Jake Barnes is an ardent Fisherman. Fisher King is a very sinful king and suffers from drought and famine. According to another legend, the soldiers of the king rape the nuns attached to the chapel of the Holy Grail. As a result of the sin, his kingdom suffered from famine. The King Fisher hopes that one day a knight will go to chapel to perilous and thereafter his land will get fertile. A virtuous knight visits the chapel and the curse on King Fisher and on his land is removed. The same is the case with Jake Barnes who is also the maimed hero in “The Sun Also Rises”. However, his struggles become the basis on which future generations can build a stronger approach to reality, a sounder humanity, which will make the modern world wasteland fertile again.

We can also see another important similarity, which appears both in the novel as well as in the poem that the scene entirely changes between the mountains. Eliot says, “There you feel free” and in “The Sun Also Rises” the mountains of Baguette is the only place where Jake and Bill have their moment of peace.

To conclude, there are also numerous small analogies of detail because both the masterpieces are written in the same age, with the same theme even the usage of images and ideas has the same context. Therefore, it can rightly be said that “The Wasteland” and “The Sun Also Rises” are the two sides of the same coin.