Monthly Archives: February 2013

Where did you get the title, The Hollow Man?

Many people are wondering where the title, The Hollow Man, originates. In a nutshell, it comes from a famous poem by T.S. Eliot called The Hollow Men. Eliot’s verse is a bitter indictment of post-World War I religious hope, moral paralysis and eventual failure of the world. He describes the existence of scarecrow-like men who live inside the intersecting circles of life and death with no way out, not sure which is which or which to choose in the end. He sees the result as clear. You all know the last lines of the poem:

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper
.

Although Eliot’s themes run through my book, inseparable in places, The Hollow Man is about one man’s quest in a similar reality where he tries to alter the outcome that Eliot foretells. He takes you with him on a dark journey that navigates a tenuous line between beauty and ugliness, hope and despair, honor and evil, and reason and madness. But in the end, it’s a story of someone just trying to find a way through the maze.

Wikipedia says of The Hollow Men, ‘Some critics read the poem as told from three perspectives, each representing a phase of the passing of a soul into one of death’s kingdoms (“death’s dream kingdom”, “death’s twilight kingdom”, and “death’s other kingdom”). Eliot describes how we, the living, will be seen by “Those who have crossed/With direct eyes […] not as lost/Violent souls, but only/As the hollow men/The stuffed men.” The image of eyes figures prominently in the poem, notably in one of Eliot’s most famous lines “Eyes I dare not meet in dreams”.‘

I invite you to read Eliot’s The Hollow Men (it’s only 96 short lines), then enjoy the first two chapters of The Hollow Man (under Excerpts) which starts where the poem ends. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think.