The Wasteland is an act of literary vandalism. In it, Eliot’s answer to his predecessors was to take his influences and to desecrate them, in the same way that graffiti desecrates a fresco. In this lies his originality; it is his revenge on their inescapable influence. And to a certain extent he disguised his rancour with what Durrell called “a cool chloroform pad” of elegance. His obscurity alienates all but the hierophant, and leaves the rest of us murmuring admiration at the smoothness of the surface.