Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Lines 8-18 Summary
"Summer surprised us ... go south in winter.":
There is a dramatic change of tone and tempo here. These lines mark an abrupt transition from the slow pace and solemn mood of the opening lines, which Tiresias - the narrator seems to intone as a sort of interior monologue or soliloquy. In the 11 lines, the speaker seems to have changed and we, apparently, hear the narration of countess Marie Larisch about her childhood memories and present life. This passage of her reminiscences throws light upon her early emotional experiences, her wanderings through Europe as a political refugee from her native Lithuania and her own loss of identity resulting from her life as an ex - royal exile. This section creates a picture of an emotional waste land in the lives of aristocratic women like countess Marie who suffered great physical hardships and psychological dislocations as a result of the political turmoil in Europe immediately before during and soon after World War I.
Line 8, "Starnbergersee" is a popular lake resort near Munich in the Bavarian district of West Germany. Eliot visited this area in August 1911, when he perhaps met countess Marie the interlocutor of these lines. It was a fashionable European holiday resort famed for the Schloss Berg castle on its shores. It was built by the Bavarian arch - Duke Ludwig who drowned in the Lake while trying to escape imprisonment in his own castle at the turn of the century.
Line 10, "Hofgarten" is a German word for an open-air cafe located on a sidewalk or pavement. There is a famous Hofgarten attached to the public park and Zoological gardens in Munich.
Line 12, "Bin gar Keine Russin ... echt Deutsche": This is often regarded as a verbatim transcript of a remark made in German by the Countess to Eliot when they met briefly in Munich. In translation, it reads "I am not Russian at all; I am from Lithuania, a pure German"
Line 13-14, "The arch-duke, ... my cousin": Marie had several archdukes for cousins including Archduke Ferdinand whose assassination in Sarajevo (August 1914) sparked off World War I. Another cousin was the "mad king" Ludwig of Schlossberg fame, and the Archduke Rudolph who committed suicide at Mayerling. Marie had arranged the marriage between Rudolph and Maria Vestera, and after their double suicide in the Mayerling tragedy, she left Vienna and returned for good to the Alpine mountains of Bavaria where, she often remarked, she felt free (Line.17).
Line 15-16, "Marie, Marie": An obvious reference to Countess Marie Larisch, whose exiled family stayed on the Starnbergersee. She was a niece and confidante of the Austrian Empress Elizabeth. Eliot presumably met her during one of his visits to Germany (either in 1911 or later in 1914). Some critics assume, however, that Eliot never met Countess Marie, but that he obtained details for his poem from her rather popular autobiography My past (1916). George L. K. Morris writing in the Partisan Review, Vol. XXI (March-April 1954) draws attention to the many similarities between parts of The Waste Land and the countessí autobiography. But we have it on the authority of Valerie Eliot (who edited The Waste Land Facsimile pp.125-26) that the description of the sledding incident was taken verbatim from Eliotís conversation with Countess Marie.
The Countess was famous for her glamorous good looks and her unfortunate neurasthenia. She was a believer in for tune telling by cards. Countess Marie Larisch was assassinated at Lake Leman in 1917.