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His first volume of verse appeared in 1917 and created a stir.
“This book of poetry was immediately hailed as a new trend in English literature. The subject matter was strange; the technique was puzzling; the style, alternately sonorous and discordant, elaborately obscure and conversationally simple – was harshly criticized and widely imitated.” (Untermeyer, 1942: 481)
“Prufrock”, written when T.S. Eliot was still a student at Harvard is his first and most famous work. It is adjudged a highly allusive picture of decadence against the background of a sterile society. It is also a most vital commentary, concentrating on moments of intensity. Eliot depicts a tired world through the eyes of a futile dilletante. The title, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” sets the mood for the poem with its contrast between the alluring love song and the unromantic business signature of J. Alfred Prufrock.
We shall now venture to analyze Eliot’s poem – the words love song taken from the title suggests conventional sentiment to readers, but this is immediately questioned by the curious name, J. Alfred Prufrock. This name is generally associated with a business card, not with a love song. There is some kind of secrecy and pretentiousness in the initial J, especially followed by the good old Anglo-Saxon Alfred which is frank, honest and open. The Pru in Prufrock points to prudence; while frock hints at formality as in frock coat, as suggested by the author later in the poem. At any rate, the name Prufrock is both strange and dubious in a love song.
We pause at this point to discuss the physical aspects of the love song. The entire poem consists of twenty stanzas of diverse length and following no definite meter (although the predominant beat is iambic pentameter. Take the first stanza. It has 12 lines, two of which do not rhyme. The third and the tenth and the lines that do, have the rhyme scheme aa, bb,
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Nevertheless, the example of Prufrock is not only that of a man who simply lacks love and who shows it in his negative attitude towards things – Prufrock’s story is also that of a man who needs care and sympathy. The main character, Prufrock, experiences loneliness in various instances in his life and this is most likely attributed to the lack of love for himself.
As a way of seeking to delve a bit further into the unvoiced meanings as well as nuanced references that the poem provides, this brief analysis will perform a close reading of a single stanza of the poem in the hopes that the level of symbolism presented throughout the piece can be evidenced adequately within such a close reading.
The poem consists of a dramatic monologue by the central character that is J. Alfred Prufrock, trying to come to terms with the social setup in which he is placed. In the poem T.S. Eliot presents Prufrock as an anti-hero who is timid, middle aged, unsure, indecisive and confused.
It is maybe because of his mixture of cultures, seeing how they were slightly different from the United States to the United Kingdom, that he put so much attention on symbolism in his work. “Eliot is known for his critical and theoretical writing, particularly for his advocacy of the ‘objective correlative’, the notion that art should not be a personal expression, but should work through objective universal symbols” (“T.S. Eliot”, 2006).
He thinks about how he is inadequate and how emotional interaction is not possible for him. Throughout the poem, there are different physical settings like a cityscape, interiors where women are talking
The devices confirm that Eliot is more concerned with something that is larger than a man’s obsession with a woman.
The poem covers the idea of hell through the Dante’s Inferno epigraph. The allusion from Dante’s work
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