As I discuss this at some length in an article in the book coming out
next August, I won't detail reasons here, but Eliot said in 1962 that
Prufrock was partly himself and partly another. And there is a great
deal in the text and in "Prufrock's Pervigilium" to evoke a reading of a
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I've always been interested in the parallel between Virgil/Dante in
and "You"/"I" in the opening of Prufrock. If there is an algebraic
between them then the "you" could be Eliot the poet and "I" the
through the hell of P's Woolfish unreality. Such a take would have to
distinguish the opening "I" from the "I" n the rest of the poem, unless
a cue from Baudelaire/ TWL to see "I" as "Vous, hypocrite lecteur"
mean that the Woolfish unreality could be the reader's own. If the
in effect, speaking to him or herself, then he or she would have
assumed security that the word wouldn't get out.
Of course the "you" could be the reader and the "I" could be Eliot. It
that he has, as in 4Q assumed a double role as guide and denizen of
Guido as guide? Hmmmmm.
I suppose a simpler take is to see the opening "you" as the reader, and
as Prufrock, which ignores the epigraph and means that Prufrock,
knows the way in and the way out, suggesting that, he does recognise
with whom he speaks.