The events leading up to and immediately following the creation of the most influential poem of the twentieth century, T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, are the background of this funny and moving investigation of Eliot's life, loves, friendships, and torments, centering on his relationship with his troubled and frustrated wife, Vivienne, and his loyal but seriously demented friend, the poet Ezra Pound, as well as their relationships to other legends of modernism: James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, and Vivienne's lover, the philosopher Bertrand Russell. Vivienne was extremely supportive and absolutely critical to Eliot's development as a person and an artist, but she was also insecure and unstable, a situation which was only made worse by Eliot's private emotional and sexual demons. Their love was real, their marriage tragic, their fates wildly different, as Eliot moved on to international fame and a happy second marriage, while Vivienne languished in the madhouse to which Eliot had committed her. The troubled geniuses of the early twentieth century, all complex and often self-contradictory people, move in and out of their troubled lives: the funny, compassionate, scattered, bigoted, demented Pound, who was so kind and generous to other writers, but who descended into despicable radio broadcasts from Fascist Italy, imprisonment in a cage, charges of treason, and a madhouse; the neurotic and self-obsessed Joyce, author of Ulysses, the great book of the century, but chronically impoverished, terrified of thunderstorms, and with a mad daughter himself; the brilliant, jealous, suicidal Virginia Woolf, a good friend who described Vivienne as a bag of ferrets around Eliot's neck; the lecherous Russell, and the wickedly funny but compassionate Gertrude Stein, all come alive in Eliot's chaotic life as the poem forms in his head. Part of Nigro's series of plays about the great Moderns that includes Anima Mundi
, Lucia Mad
, What Shall I Do For Pretty Girls?
and Lost Generation