An apology to TS Eliot


I’ve said that I hate TS Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, largely because of its place in history as a gateway drug for modernist poetry, but also because I didn’t understand it. It’s one of the poems covered in Understanding Poetry (3rd edition), the companion book to Understanding Fiction. I turned to that critique first, to see if they could help me understand that poem, which I remember made no sense at all when I read it in high school.

I read the poem first, to refresh my memory. But this time, it made sense. I hadn’t understood it in high school because I was young and stupid, and (according to Brooks and Warren) it’s about being an old, intellectual, isolated man who feels he’s wasted his life.

I don’t think it’s quite that simple. In my defense, each critic seems to have their own different, sometimes incomprehensible, interpretation of it. But still. Not bad, T.S.


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