Ken's rough construal of the poem is defensible -- but the implications he draws from it are incoherent; he seems more interested in the poet than the poem, hence (possibly) the dryness of his interpretation and the passionate tone of the final sentence (poetry of design & so forth). A focus on the poem (rather than the poet) does NOT preclude making great use of anything the poet has said about the poem. An aggressive denial of such statements (e.g., Eliot's claim that Prufrock is partly Eliot hmself) seems not an attempt to interpret (or "appreciate") the poem but an attempt to set up the poet (abstracted from anything he ever said) as some sort of object of worship.
From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]
] On Behalf Of Nancy Gish
Sent: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 3:23 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Query on a line from Prufrock
Yes, I know the line. In a 1962 interview, Eliot said Prufrock was partly himself [he was 22] and partly someone else, a man of about forty who also partly expressed his own feeling. That he feels he is growing old is no more absolutely literal about his age than the line that he is drowning or has his head on a platter. At 22, one imagines, no doubt, that 40 is "growing old."
In "Prufrock's Pervigilium" Prufrock sees himself as a mad old man in a gutter. Eliot added that section and then removed it--either in 1911 or 1912.
As I said, if he said it was partly himself, I presume he knew.
>>> P 08/26/15 2:10 PM >>>
"I grow old, I grow old"
On 26 Aug 2015 6:11 am, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]
Eliot said that Prufrock was partly himself. I suppose he knew.
He said much the same about TWL having come out of his own life during the War and his marriage.
But nothing in what I wrote here is about Eliot except that he was a very young man speaking in the persona of a man afraid of aging, and the poem does not show the character to actually be old.
In any case, Eliot made clear many times that he wrote out of his own life. So one must assume he believed chimpanzees can type Shakespeare (hardy analogous but. . . ).
Whatever is your stake anyway in insisting against all Eliot's own claims that the biography is irrelevant when there is so much evidence to the contrary, including Eliot's own claims? And why did Eliot's own late criticism also use the poet's lives, as in his discussion of Yeats?
>>> Ken Armstrong 08/26/15 7:19 AM >>>
Prufrock is in retreat from his unknowing but highly consequential brush with the real reality, loudly pinged at the poem's midpoint-- "But in the lamplight downed with light brown hair!" -- and moving down and away from it trying to distract himself with trivialities in place of realities, the niceties of eating peaches (the fruit's messiness as Peter noted) and the superficiality of fashion, rolled trousers. From this vain attempt, the vanity of which even he must sense, he moves to imagined rejection -- "I do not think they will sing to me," (although he can hear then singing) to total self abnegation, "ragged claws," etc. In effect Prufrock's love song is his self-imposed swan song. This is poetry of design. If you're not an advocate of the universe by accident and Shakespeare typed by chimpanzees, it makes little sense to confuse Prufrock with his creator
On 8/22/2015 4:07 PM, Nancy Gish wrote:
This and many other readings are online. But it is not clear which, if any, apply. There is a website purporting to expose the errors (many) in the "Gradesaver" account of the poem, but it (the ostensible correcting site), unfortunately, creates new ones just as egregious. It says, for example, that it is not accurate to say that "trousers rolled" is a new, bohemian style--though Conrad Aiken said at the time it was. So what it and other sites say is varied and confused.
But here are some things about peaches. To "eat a peach" is slang for cunnilingus. I cannot find how old that is. Rick, can you trace it back?
In China, where they were first cultivated, peaches are symbols of immortality.
Also, "It has special significance in Chinese culture: the peach has mystical attributes, and supposedly brings luck, abundance and protection."
Peach pits are poisonous, so biting one might do more than break a tooth (one of the anxieties possibly attributed to Prufrock).
But it is not clear that Prufrock is really aging; Eliot was young (22), and he said in an interviews in 1962 that Prufrock was partly himself and partly another, older person. His fear of growing old may not mean he is doing so.
peach (n.) <http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=peach&allowed_in_frame=0
> Look up peach at Dictionary.com <http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=peach
c. 1400 (late 12c. as a surname), from Old French pesche "peach, peach tree" (Old North French peske, Modern French pêche), and directly from Medieval Latin pesca, from Late Latin pessica, variant of persica "peach, peach tree," from Latin malum Persicum, literally "Persian apple," translating Greek Persikon malon, from Persis "Persia" (see Persian <http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=Persian&allowed_in_frame=0
In ancient Greek Persikos could mean "Persian" or "the peach." The tree is native to China, but reached Europe via Persia. By 1663 William Penn observed peaches in cultivation on American plantations. Meaning "attractive woman" is attested from 1754; that of "good person" is from 1904. Peaches and cream in reference to a type of complexion is from 1901. Peach blossom as a color is from 1702. Georgia has been the Peach State since 1939. [emphasis mine]
(Given the date of "attractive woman," and the metaphor for complexion, the sexual suggestion may be apt.)
>>> "Rickard A. Parker" <mailto:[log in to unmask]
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> 08/22/15 3:18 PM >>>
On Sat, 22 Aug 2015 12:01:42 -0500, Carrol Cox <mailto:[log in to unmask]
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>"Do I dare to eat a peach?"
>Is "peach" a metaphor or, if not, what in 1910ff made it daring to eat a
Prufrock is aging. He wonders if he should take up new fashions like a new hair style or wearing his trousers cuffed. Or, perhaps more importantly, his teeth are going bad. If he eats a peach he may bite into the pit and lose a tooth or two.
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