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Nancy Gish wrote:
>
> There was a business sign in St. Louis with the name "Prufrock" on it, and
> the name has been attributed to that.  Eliot also said he chose it just
> because of the sound.  He said various things at various times.
> Nancy
>

This may be one of those times to trust the tale not the artist. The
sign might have made Eliot aware of the name, but he would certainly
have chosen to use it for other reasons, which might be summarized as
the decorum of the poem. Names can seem decorous for two different sets
of reasons. They may be quasi-allegorical (e.g., "Fanny Assingham" in
_The Golden Bowl_, "Dedlock" or "Smallweed" in _Bleak House) or they may
be a sound or combination of sounds that invite meanings (determined by
the whole work) to cluster about them (e.g., "Jellyby" or "Guppy" in
_Bleak House_). I think both "Prufrock" and the "J. Alfred" are of the
latter sort -- no meaning in isolation but focusing a cluster of
meanings in context. (In an earlier thread someone mentioned the
pomposity of the first initial combined with full middle name -- and
someone else cited some actual figure so named, but I don't remember the
particular posts.)

Carrol

P.S. and O.T. I've read _Golden Bowl_ many times, but have never read
any commentary on it. A name like "Fanny Assingham" in a book urges the
reader to inspect other names. "Maggie Verver" has (as far as I can see)
no independent significance, and neither does it seem to me to set off
any reverberations or collect any from the text.  Has any critic
discussed the name?