Exploring The Waste Land
A commentary page linked from The Waste Land, Part I, line 57

Part I
Lines 43 and 57

On the names Sosostris and Mrs. Equitone


Elsewhere in my commentary I note how the name Sosostris came from the character Sesostris, the Sorceress of Ecbatana, in Aldous Huxley's novel Crome Yellow (a portion of which is at this site.) Here are some speculations on how the name Sesostris became Sosostris.

  1. Eliot may simply have wrote Sosostris down from memory and inadvertantly changed the spelling from Huxley's Sesostris.
  2. I think perhaps Eliot may be playing with the Morse code SOS in Sosostris as a symbol of distress. That is to say Sosostris is (or is supposed to be) a source of help.
  3. One reader of this site has commented that the change of name from Sesostris to Sosostris may have been made to indicate that her ability to forsee the future was not very good--it was so-so.

Mrs. Equitone:

Many annotations to The Waste Land mention simply that Mrs. Equitone is a made up name that does not exist. I propose (though not whole heartily) that the name is a stand-in for Eliot's wife Vivienne (or Vivien). Both names begin with the letter E and Equitone itself may come from the sound of Viv·i·en El·i·ot.

Since I propose elsewhere in my commentary that Sosostris stood for Bertand Russell having Mrs. Equitone stand for Mrs. Eliot is not too far-fetched. Especially considering the overly friendly relations of the two (see Seymour-Jones ).

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T 105 - Russell, Bertrand
T 57 - Huxley, Aldous

Exploring The Waste Land
File name: kq057.html
File date: Sunday, September 29, 2002
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