• Maden R. Radulović


The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot, mimetic and semiotic level of text interpretation, ungrammaticality, hypogram, matrix, poetic sign, conversion, expansion, Michael (Michel) Riffaterre, divine protagonist.


This paper presents an analysis of the poetic text of The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot through the empirical application of theoretical concepts of intertextuality, derived from the intertextual semiotic theory of poetry by Michael (Michel) Riffaterre. In the first part of this paper, we sought to provide a reliable framework for the theoretical definition of intertextuality, starting with the introduction of the neologism of intertextuality by Julia Kristeva, through the concept of general intertextuality considered in the light of postmodern poststructuralist and deconstructive theory of Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida, to consideration of the concept of specific intertextuality limited to the domain of literature within Riffaterre’s intertextual semiotics of poetry. In the second part of the paper, we tried to apply on the poetic text of The Waste Land some of the basic theoretical postulates of Riffaterre's understanding of intertextuality, which include a referential interpretation of the text aimed at the reader on the basis of hermeneutic phenomenology that leads the interpretation of a literary poetic text to a specific meaning. When approaching the analysis of the poetic text of The Waste Land, we based our analysis on the premise set by Cleanth Brooks. More precisely, we focused on the central axis of the poetic meaning of the poem, according to which the Christian material is at the center, but the poet never deals with it directly. Therefore, Brooks' initial premise led our interpretation of the poetic text towards the recognition of adequate biblical hypograms as variants of the hidden matrix of the text, where we noticed ungrammaticalities as stylistic and semantic anomalies in relation to the initially established negative idiolect of the text on the mimetic level of interpretation, and then, by moving to the semiotic level of interpretation, we connected the observed grammaticalities through the biblical intertext with the unique intertextual structure of the poem and the matrix that represents the reduced poetic meaning of the poem. Thus, grammaticalities as deviations from the real became poetic signs that make the descriptive poetic text of The Waste Land, in which symbolic discourse is literarily dominant and, in accordance with the assumed matrix, profoundly religious. Thanks to the analysis of the deep semantic-verbal structure of the text, we realized that hypograms were recognized with the help of the polarization process, a variant of the matrix that spreads the poetic meaning to equivalent lexical-grammatical elements of the text, forming a common intertextual network. At the very end of this paper, it is important to emphasize that this analysis of the poetic text of The Waste Land was formed on the basis of a reader's sociolect based on the views of the Christian faith. Therefore, if there were no divine protagonist as the subject of our presumed variant of the matrix, then the presumed deep structure of this poem by T.S. Eliot would be unconvincing. However, the possible bias expressed through the influence of the Christian sociolect in this type of analysis of the poetic text is not a consequence of an arbitrary act of the reader, but it is derived from the receptivity of the poetic text of the poem The Waste Land for empirical application of Riffaterre's semiotic principles of intertextual theory of poetry, which brought the religious-metaphysical meaning of the poem to the surface beneath the layers of referential delusions.