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T.S. Eliot isn’t for everybody. His poetry is notoriously troublesome to learn – dense, packed, allusive, and elusive. I wrote my grasp’s thesis on his later-in-life collection of poems, 4 Quartets, and on the time, I reveled within the density, the opaqueness of his poetry. I can keep in mind studying – sweating over, agonizing over – The Waste Land the primary time I encountered it in graduate college. What to make of this puzzling – however completely central and defining – poem of the modernist motion?

However there’s one thing extra accessible about “The Love Track of J. Alfred Prufrock” – and possibly a part of its accessibility is that there’s a touch of a narrative on this lyric – or a minimum of there’s a personality.

When you’ve learn “Prufrock” and positively when you’ve studied it, you discover that it’s eminently quotable. I can recite quite a few strains from “Prufrock”: “Allow us to go then, you and I,” “within the room, the ladies come and go / speaking of Michelangelo,” “there shall be time,” “I’ve measured out my life with espresso spoons,” and most compelling to me, “Until human voices wake us, and we drown.” You most likely have your personal favourite line.

And presently of 12 months, I can’t assist however consider Eliot’s great description of an October night time, which seems close to the poem’s opening:

The yellow fog that rubs its again upon the window-panes,

The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,

Licked its tongue into the corners of the night,

Lingered upon the swimming pools that stand in drains,

Let fall upon its again the soot that falls from chimneys,

Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,

And seeing that it was a mushy October night time,

Curled as soon as about the home, and fell asleep.

“Prufrock” is commonly held up as a chief instance of modernist alienation, and many individuals equate modernism with the ache and lack of World Conflict I and its aftermath. (See Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time for gorgeous examples of post-World Conflict I modernist literature.)

However Eliot really started writing “The Love Track of J. Alfred Prufrock” in 1910, and it was printed in 1915, only a 12 months after the conflict started. Even within the early 1910s, cultural observers like T.S. Eliot have been sensing the despair, the sense of meaninglessness in twentieth-century Western civilization that may finally erupt within the Nice Conflict. Prufrock notices the “lonely males in shirt-sleeves” and says “I ought to have been a pair of ragged claws / scuttling throughout the flooring of silent seas.”

One of many actual treats for literary nerds like me is to listen to Eliot learn his personal poetry, and nowhere is he higher than in studying “Prufrock.” If you hearken to him learn (as you’ll be able to within the multimedia field beneath), you might be forgiven for considering he’s a Brit, to the style born. However regardless of that affected accent, he really hailed from St. Louis, Missouri, my hometown. I can guarantee you that nobody in St. Louis has ever spoken like T.S. Eliot, not even his well-known grandfather, William Greenleaf Eliot, the founding minister of First Unitarian Church of St. Louis and the founding father of Washington College.

So the place did Eliot purchase this accent? After some college examine in Europe, he moved to London in 1914 at age 25 and have become a British citizen at age 39 in 1927, when he additionally renounced his American citizenship. Later in life, as seen most notably in 4 Quartets, he made a type of tentative peace with America and along with his forebears, however he at all times noticed himself as British. The truth is, Eliot is taken into account by many (like me) to be an American author however by many others (together with Eliot himself) as a British author.

After working as a banker at Lloyd’s of London, Eliot finally took a place as an editor at Faber and Faber, the place he printed the likes of W.H. Auden, Stephen Spender, and Ted Hughes. Now Faber and Faber hosts an intensive interactive web site on T.S. Eliot, together with a fantastically annotated model of “Prufrock.” (Click on by way of to every new display, after which click on the little circles to the left of the strains of the poem to see commentary.)

For an ingenious tackle J. Alfred Prufrock because the prototype of the fashionable hipster, go to the Atlantic Month-to-month. Poet Donald Corridor interviewed Eliot in 1959: the outcomes are undoubtedly price your time. And also you gained’t wish to miss Julian Peters’s therapy of the poem as a collection of comics!

To discover Eliot’s superb assortment of labor (poetry, performs, and essays), take a look at The Full Poems and Performs: 1909-1950,T. S. Eliot: Collected Poems, 1909-1962, and Chosen Prose of T.S. Eliot.

Eliot was acknowledged for his big contribution to trendy literature when he gained the 1948 Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in 1965 in London and is buried in Westminster Abbey.


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