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Dear Nancy,

 

Sorry for the long delay in responding to this. I've been sick all week with a serious flu (no other gory details need be mentioned), so I've been off the air since last Friday.

 

I have your book, T. S. Eliot and Gender, Desire, and Sexuality, and I re-read your essay today. I understand the argument about the "you and I" at the beginning of Prufrock being two personae or selves of the poet.

 

My original posted question also asked about other Prufrock references that are about a "you". Are you saying that _all_ the Prufrock references that I asked about are two personae or selves of the poet? It seems that in at least one case ("And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! . . .Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me./Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,/Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?") Prufrock is thinking about a woman with whom he is trying to move the relationship from "polite society" ("tea and cakes and ices") to sexual ("force the moment to its crisis"). 

 

What is your viewpoint on the other contextual references to a "you" in the poem?

 

-- Tom --
 


Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2010 20:36:37 -0500
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Prufrock question
To: [log in to unmask]


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, 2004).
 
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.
Best,
Nancy

>>> 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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