I more or less agree. I would see Prufrock as a
mirror or touchstone intended to reflect back a
reader's own mask/face to him or herself.
I think the narrative method, the desire to fill
in the spaces, so to speak, tends to take the poetry
backward to the 19th century approach, rather than
let it do its own job for its own time. I have
the same problem with a narrative reading of Burbank.
A good part of Eliot's work is aimed at a subtle breakdown
of the linear approach to time.
From: Carrol Cox [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, September 24, 2002 8:30 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Stray Thought, was Re: Michaelangelo
Since my 'professional' interests lay elsewhere, I've never read much
Eliot criticism. But a good deal of the little I have read, and many of
the posts on this list, seem to treat both Gerontion and Prufrock
novelistically, trying to identify and explain Gerontin and Prufrock as
"characters." What if they are not characters at all, but merely voices
or echo chambers. There are many precedents. Consider _Guliver_. There
are intermittent passage where Gulliver is, _almost_, what Forster was
later to call a "rounded character." There are other places where he is
only a place-holder, not connectable either to Swift or to a character
in a narrative. And so on.
I think _Gerontion_ in particular is far more interesting as an
echo-chamer than as a presentation of a character, as in Browning's
dramatic monologues. Perhaps Prufrock could be regarded in that light