Thanks, Tom.  This is quite provocative.


Tom Colket wrote:
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I think Eliot's "young man carbuncular" is an allusion to Ovid's Narcissus in Metamorphoses. This has been written about before, but perhaps it is worth re-stating. I have copied some lines below from a translation posted by MIT, along with some comments of my own that I believe tie Narcissus to the young man carbuncular.

-- Tom --


In other words:

1) Tiresias appears in both passages and prophesizes (In Eliot: "Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest").

2) Eliot turns the plot of Narcissus loving only himself and his own beauty into "His vanity requires no response,/And makes a welcome of indifference".

3) Eliot turns the "purple youthfulness of face" that Ovid uses to describe a beautiful youthful blush into "the young man carbuncular", that is, a face full of purple pimples, not the beautiful blush of Narcissus.