T. S. ELIOT QUESTIONS
Assigned. T. S. Eliot. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (Norton Vol. F, 2289-93); "Tradition and the Individual Talent" (2319-25).
"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
1. How does this poem represent nature? What is the relationship between the humans in this poem and their environment?
2. How does this poem describe the passage of time?
3. What keeps the speaker from acting or even making decisions?
4. How do lines 122-end affect your understanding of the speaker's situation? How do you interpret the symbolism involved in these lines?
"Tradition and the Individual Talent"
5. How, on pages 2320-21, does Eliot describe the tradition and the "mind of Europe" to which writers must connect themselves? How can the past be altered by the present?
6. On 2321, how does Eliot answer the charge that his theory requires "a ridiculous amount of erudition"? Do you find "The Waste Land," which Eliot wrote three years after this essay, a successful example of the kind of poetry he is calling for? Why or why not?
7. From 2322-23, how does Eliot characterize the creative process? What does the poet's mind "express"? How does his analogy of the poet's mind to "a bit of finely filiated platinum" help him explain the creative process?
8. What fault, on 2324, does Eliot find with Wordsworth's formulation of poetic expression as "emotion recollected in tranquility"? How does his essay as a whole reject romantic expressivism?
9. Eliot does not say much about how the reader connects to the kind of literature he is defending. What conjectures can you offer on this point?
Edition: Greenblatt, Stephen et al, eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed. Vol. E. New York: Norton, 2006. ISBN Package 2 (Vols. DEF) 0-393-92834-9.