Exploring The Waste Land
A note page linked from The Waste Land, Part I, line 46

Eliot's note for line 46

I am not familiar with the exact constitution of the Tarot pack of cards, from which I have obviously departed to suit my own convenience. The Hanged Man, a member of the traditional pack, fits my purpose in two ways: because he is associated in my mind with the Hanged God of Frazer, and because I associate him with the hooded figure in the passage of the disciples to Emmaus in Part V. The Phoenician Sailor and the Merchant appear later; also the "crowds of people," and Death by Water is executed in Part IV. The Man with Three Staves (an authentic member of the Tarot pack) I associate, quite arbitrarily, with the Fisher King himself.

Commentator's note

In his 1956 essay "The Frontiers of Criticism" Eliot wrote an apology of sorts for the notes to The Waste Land:

I regret having sent so many enquirers off on a wild goose chase after Tarot cards and the Holy Grail.

The citation and a fuller quote are available on another page.

Information about the various Tarot cards mentioned can be found on the allusion page and the commentary page for line 46.

The Exploring The Waste Land site has more information about The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer (The Hanged God is a chapter in this book).

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T 43 - Frazer, Sir James George
T 87 - Odin
T 120 - Tarot
T 97 - Phoenicia

Exploring The Waste Land
File name: nq046.html
File date: Sunday, September 29, 2002
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