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World Literature from 1660
T.S. Eliot
Da-da poetry: Kurt Schwitters
Da-da Poetry: Paul Eluard
Wallace Stevens
T.S. Eliot
Beckett: Absurdity
Contemporary/Post Modernism
Doris Lessing
Gabrieal Garcia Marquez
Alain Robbe-Grillet
Leslie Marmion Silko
The Enlightenment
Moliere's Tartuffe
Swift: Gulliver's Travels
Pope: "Essay on Man"
Reading Assignments

T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

born in St. Louis, Missouri

educated at Harvard

took British citizenship in 1927

converted to the Anglican religion in 1927

earned a living as a bank clerk

with Four Quartets, he showed his conversion

to fundamental Christian belief--showing

a need for faith in a fragmented world.

with Murder in the Cathedral, he further

established his doctrine. This is a

drama about Thomas a Beckett's death.

was a friend of Ezra Pound, who took scissors

to The Wasteland

Elements of Modernism reflected in Eliot

lack of faith

concern about man's inhumanity to man


no "true" love

destroying the past, refusal to see the value of the past

a need to create something to believe in.

Literary techniques to reflect Modernistic despair


abrupt changes in focus

not a clear linear organization

stream of consciousness

free verse

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

--composed in 1910

--published in 1915 in Poetry

--a dramatic interior monologue

--reflects an inability to act,like Hamlet

--images are not of nature, negative

--closure does not affirm a promise.

For Eliot, form is the largest difficulty facing the modern poet, who must find "a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history" (Eliot, "Ulysses, Order and Myth").

To Eliot, the modern world
--defies traditional structure
--the poet must somehow find a way of creating order amid chaos

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
--dramatic monologue of rambling psychological coherence.
--central persona is paralyzed by indecision and extreme self-consciousness which makes him hesitant.

The disjunctive narrative structure and a heavy reliance on allusion highlight the ironic contrast between past glories and modern inadequacies.

The themes of "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock" are the disintegration of the modern world, "the tone of effort and futility of effort which is central in Eliot's writing" (111), the failure to act, to "disturb the universe," as Prufrock puts it.

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" juxtaposes spiritual barrenness and a meaningless life. The mood at the end is one lonely voice, but it is a voice reflecting the sense of loss of the entire culture. Eliot expands upon these ideas in The Wasteland, more fully developing the theme of the meaninglessness of modern life and making its structure depend entirely upon the relationship of the various fragments.

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