Out of the wreckage of the First World War, classicism and dadaism charted two opposing paths forward. While one movement sought to overturn the institutions complicit in prolonging the war, the other sought to buttress these same institutions as a safeguard against the chaos of modern life. This essay studies the peculiar convergence of these contradictory movements in The Waste Land. The article provides a full account of Eliot’s postwar engagement with dadaism and classicism before examining the influence of each movement on The Waste Land. Walter Benjamin’s theory of baroque allegory will be introduced in the end to address the article’s central question: How can any one poem be both classicist and dadaist at the same time?

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