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Book Title: A Canção de Amor de J. Alfred Prufrock|
The author of the book: T.S. Eliot
Edition: Assírio $ Alvim
Date of issue: 1993
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Reader ratings: 7.6
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Format files: PDF
The size of the: 393 KB
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Poetry, if it is not to be a lifeless repetition of forms, must be constantly exploring "the frontiers of the spirit". But these frontiers are not like the surveys of geographical explorers, conquered once for all and settled. The frontiers of the spirit are more like the jungle which, unless continuously kept under control, is always ready to encroach and eventually obliterate the cultivated area.
- That Poetry Is Made with Words, T.S.Eliot, 1939
T.S. Eliot has attained the status of classic author who offers something to everyone, his imagination of world and his style, originated from a mind and heart that were passionate, complex and riven. There are only afew persons in any generation who can make inner human emotions visible in a rhythmic lingusitic structure bearing aesthetic feeling, conveying, in a way which traverses through time, the sensation of being alive at a particular historical period. His texts could be considered as amputated bits of the self, temporarily buried, which sprouted into aesthetic form as Eliot himself once proposed to his friend Conrad Aiken that "It's interesting to cut yourself into pieces once in a while, and to wait to see if the fragments will sprout"; and in that regard some of his lines have come to stand for the whole of the poems in which they appear-
I grow old.....I grow old
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock represents a narrator who develops into lacerating ironist of his own emotions, the poem, described as a "drama of literary anguish", is a dramatic interior monologue of an urban man, stricken with feelings of isolation and an incapability for decisive action that is said "to epitomize frustration and impotence of the modern individual" and "represent thwarted desires and modern disillusionment. Eliot exultantly discovered how to represent his emotions without being mastered by them, it's not an unmediated outburst but an analytic diagnosis in patterned language.
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question.....
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.
The poem portrays the random thoughts, jumping around in a person's head, struggling with each other to survive and come out from the labyrinths of the person's mind before the temporal progress kills them as usually happen with random thoughts- we remember them for a moment and the very next moment they vanish to nothingness. The thoughts occur within a time interval, not necessarily in some sequences, and the links between those thoughts are more psychological than logical, this deliberate use of "stream of consciousness" technique of modernism makes it rather difficult to differentiate between symbolism and actual text. There is extensive use of symbols and allusions, to biblical references, Greek history, like in his most of the poems by Eliot. If other consciousnesses exist only as opaque objects for Prufrock, he has an equally unhappy relation to time and space. One of the puzzles of the poem is the question as to whether Prufrock ever leaves his room. It appears that he does not, so infirm is his will, so ready "for a hundred indecisions,/And for a hundred visions and revisions,/Before the taking of a toast and tea". In another sense Prufrock would be unable to go anywhere, however hard he tried. If all space has been assimilated into his mind, then spatial movement would really be movement in the same place, like a man running in a dream.
The poem has evident elements of modernism wherein the intended audience- called as 'you' in the text- is not clear and one of the interpretations of it could be that the reader has been addressed as 'you' and he/ she has to play an active role which is characteristic of post-modernism while other interpretations of it could that it's an interior monologue of Pruforck representing his dilemmas and anguish of a sexually frustrated middle-aged man who wants to say something but is afraid to do so, and ultimately does not, as can be seen in the works of Samuel Beckett and Thomas Bernhard. It also occurs that Prufrock is cribbing out his lamented romantic affair with a woman and has been frustratingly trying to convey his feelings to her, pointing to the various images of women's arms and clothing.
And I have known the arms already, known them all-
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
The dense text of the poem represents the philosophical insight of Eliot, the disillusionment of modern man with society- an examination of the tortured psyche of the prototypical modern man -overeducated, eloquent, neurotic, and emotionally stilted. There is no way to distinguish between actual movement and imaginary movement. However far Prufrock goes, he remains imprisoned in his own subjective space, and all his experience is imaginary. It seems to be some perception of this which keeps him in his room, content to imagine himself going through the streets, ascending the lady's stair, and telling her "all," like Lazarus back from the dead. There is no resurrection from the death which has undone him, and this is one meaning of the epigraph from Dante. The rhyme scheme of this poem is irregular but not random. While sections of the poem may resemble free verse, in reality, “Prufrock” is a carefully structured amalgamation of poetic forms. The bits and pieces of rhyme become much more apparent when the poem is read aloud. One of the most prominent formal characteristics of this work is the use of refrains. Prufrock’s continual return to the “women [who] come and go / Talking of Michelangelo” and his recurrent questionings (“how should I presume?”) and pessimistic appraisals (“That is not it, at all.”) both reference an earlier poetic tradition and help Eliot describe the consciousness of a modern, neurotic individual.
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all:-
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons:
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how shall I presume?
It's one of greatest works of literature though not an easy one to understand but once you spend time with it, it's definitely worth it.
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Read information about the authorThomas Stearns Eliot was a poet, dramatist and literary critic. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948 "for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry." He wrote the poems The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Ash Wednesday, and Four Quartets; the plays Murder in the Cathedral and The Cocktail Party; and the essay Tradition and the Individual Talent. Eliot was born an American, moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 (at the age of 25), and became a British subject in 1927 at the age of 39.
See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.S._Eliot
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