Document Type

Working Paper

Date

10-15-2017

Embargo Period

10-22-2017

Keywords

T. S. Eliot, Thomas Stearns Eliot, tantalus jar, Leyden jar

Language

English

Disciplines

Literature in English, British Isles

Description/Abstract

T. S. Eliot wrote the introduction to the volume of Ezra Pound’s Selected Poems that was published in 1928. In an important and oft-cited passage, he used the term “tantalus jar”. In the present paper, we show that this term was a coinage. It likely refers to the Leyden jar, which was an early device invented in the 1700s for storing electrical charge. Eliot may have become acquainted with it through The Golden Bough (1912), which he refers to in later work. We speculate as to whether Eliot’s coinage was intentional or not.

Additional Information

This working paper by Schiff, Eric A is licensed CC 4.0.

All images in this paper have open licensing (Creative Commons or public domain works).

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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