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It's also humorous that the first time Eliot signed a
letter with the variation "J. Alfred Prufrock" was
when he wrote to Harriet Monroe (27 Mar 1916),
thanking her for her interest in "Prufrock" (which,
oddly enough, he abbreviated later in letters to Pound
as "J.A.P."). He repeated it again a couple times that
year before dropping it. But at the same time he was
also working for the first time with "Thomas Stearns
Eliot" and "T.S.E.", if I remember correctly.
So I think you're right, Jennifer: trying out new name
formations was probably a sign of trying to get
settled in to a new culture, not (at least not merely)
a class thing. I suppose to really understand the
usage, we'd have to understand what Eliot was
attempting to do with Prufrock's name in the first
place - if Eliot THOUGHT, perhaps, that that sort of
name was pretentious or class-connoting, or just
someone as uncomfortable with presenting his name as
with presenting himself.

Cheers,
Will

--- Jennifer Formichelli <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> On a final note. Peter raised the question of class
> in
> J. Alfred Prufrock and T. Stearns Eliot, an
> abbreviation that Eliot flirted with around 1916 or
> so, I believe. It is not, however, a question of
> class; rather, it is a question of English versus
> American abbreviation. For instance, the British now
> typically use the abbreviation of the first and
> middle
> initials: J. A. Prufrock. The Americans, however,
> typically use the middle abbreviation: John A
> Prufrock. In England, this abbreviation, along with
> anything such as Jr, Sr, or PhD, is considered
> pretentious. The use of the first initial followed
> by
> a full middle, as J Alfred Prufrock, typically
> implies
> that the individual goes by their middle name rather
> than their Christian name. I suspect the appearance
> of
> T. Stearns Eliot around 1916, when TSE was settling
> in
> England, was a confusion about English versus
> American
> abbreviations, whilst the adoption of T.S. Eliot
> conformed (not unlike Eliot himself) to the English
> model. 
> 
> Yours, Jennifer 
> 



		
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