Nancy's right on here. Prufrock-Littau (if my memory serves me) was
the name of a furniture store in St. Louis where Eliot grew up. The
connotations of Prufrock's names are also significant: Alfred, like the
heroic king -- also a very English name and rather old; Prufrock, which
combines something like 'prude' and 'frock', definitely a recent name,
and not English. These two names alone form a paradox. In addition, the
title as a whole rings paradoxically -- the love song of who? Not some
Romantic name, but rather the very business-card-like "J. Alfred
Prufrock." Pretty sanitary.

The poem has been interpreted various ways, as a critique of early 20th
century society (the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo) or of
modern man (Prufrock himself as an impotent man -- in many ways), etc.
Personally I read the poem as a collection of many of these
interpretations (Eliot was rather profound, you know!) as well as an
autobiographical account from a young Eliot in the mouth of Prufrock,
trying to decide whether to become a poet or not. Will he get
inspiration? Should he keep up with the fads or be true to his own sense
of what is important? What if no one cares, even if he said something
stunningly new? The 'you' and 'I', then, would be Eliot talking to
himself, perhaps something very much like the difference between "the
man who suffers and the mind which creates" (from "Tradition and the
Individual Talent").

Just some thoughts. Hope things go well for your class this evening.
You are privileged to be in the shrinking number of those who love

Will Gray

>>> [log in to unmask] 05/12/03 12:19PM >>>
There was a business sign in St. Louis with the name "Prufrock" on it,
the name has been attributed to that.  Eliot also said he chose it
because of the sound.  He said various things at various times.

Date sent:              Mon, 12 May 2003 11:41:03 -0400
Send reply to:          "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum."
<[log in to unmask]>
From:                   Rita Proffitt <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:                Re: An amateur Eliot enthusiast's wild musing
To:                     [log in to unmask]

Thanks to everyone for the advice, corrections, and encouragement. I
my class tonight and we will be discussing Prufrock. Does anyone know
Eliot chose that name? What does J stand for? And of course if you
tell me what the poem means to you, I would love to hear. Will be
interesting to compare to the class's ideas. However I am attending
mostly 19 y/o who just want to go out and party. Am one of the few
students. rita