Well, Eliot said that Prufrock was both himself and someone else,
someone older (he wrote it when he was very young). But I do not see his
doubles (of which there are many) simply as personae, though, in the
sense that he presents himself as doubled in the form of various
narrators, I see them as many aspects of self which he experienced, and
in the case of Prufrock two aspects of himself--or, if you choose, the
"narrator" as dual.

As to the second question, no.

But I think the whole issue is very complex, and I would have to repeat
the essay to make it clear and convincing--which I think it is. So I can
only suggest you read it. The first or second note lists a series of
ways the "you and I" has been read with key scholars who did. It's
obviously selective: it has been a topic since the poem was published.

>>> DIana Manister 01/31/10 5:31 PM >>>
Nancy you say two selves or personae of the poet; I take that to mean
the poem's narrator, correct?

Do you see "talk of you and me" as referring to a third "you"?



Sent from my iPod

On Jan 31, 2010, at 4:07 PM, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

I think you're probably right, but I also think Eliot especially found
too much reality more than he could bear. His generalization assumes
that his own conception of "reality" is Truth. I think a great deal can
be borne if one sees it as a more complicated mixture of sensual and
emotional joy and beauty as well, clearly, as horror. And I don't,
obviously, mean his concept of a joy beyond sensual joy as the only
possibility. Ironically, his early poetry, full of yearning and desire
for just that, seems never to have been something of a world he
discovered until perhaps in his last few years.

>>> David Boyd 01/31/10 3:32 PM >>>
'('We') humankind cannot bear much reality' maybe illuminates the
personae involved here ??.



On Sun, Jan 31, 2010 at 1:36 AM, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Dear Tom,

I've been out of town, so there are no doubt many responses to this
already. But Eliot himself gave different answers to the question. I've
written about it several times, but the most recent, and the one I stand
by because of all the research behind it, is the discussion in my
article in T. S. Eliot and Gender, Desire, and Sexuality (Cambridge,

It has been read in many, many ways, but I think it is two personae or
selves of the poet; in a 1962 interview Eliot says pretty much that.

>>> Tom Colket 01/24/10 11:53 AM >>>
In Eliot's "Prufrock" there are numerous places where the narrator
addresses or refers to another person, a "you" or a "we". My question
is: Is the narrator referring to one specific person (i.e., the same
person) in all these lines, or is more than one single individual
being referenced?

Here are the six references (among all Prufrock lines with "you/your"
or "we/us/our") that I'm particularly interested in:

1) "Let us go then, you and I . . . Let us go and make our visit."

2) "And indeed there will be time . . . Time for you and time for me"

3) "And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! . . .
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me."

4) "And would it have been worth it, after all, . . . Among the
porcelain, among some talk of you and me,"

5) "Would it have been worth while,. . . To say, 'I am Lazarus, come
from the dead,/Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all' "

6) "We have lingered in the chambers of the sea/By sea-girls wreathed
with seaweed red and brown/Till human voices wake us, and we drown."

-- Tom --

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