The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: Digital

To describe how T.S. Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock can be seen as digital I am going to focus on Dr. Peters’ definition of digital, more specifically, the digit’s ability to point. Dr. Peters says “digits combine computational and referential powers in ways that allow the stewards of digital systems to manipulate elements of that social reality” which I took to mean that digits understand and point to references in order to color social opinion. References that help sway the reader to certain conclusions (for me that Prufrock does not intend for anyone to hear his confessions because he thinks his emotions are invalidated by his lack of redeemable qualities) are abound in the poem. In the epigraph he references an excerpt from Dante’s Inferno about only saying something because you know no one will ever hear and in the fifth to last stanza references Shakespeare’s Hamlet to implying he will never be important, he is a background character not integral to the story. Throughout the poem he uses a thorough understanding of references to famous pieces of literature ranging from the Bible to Chaucer in order to illustrate to the reader the mindset Prufrock was in.

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2 thoughts on “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: Digital

  1. Excellent work, Jessica! Hats off to you on the interpretation of Dr. Peter’s quote and the way you tied it back to the poem. I really enjoyed it because I thought the same thing! (Does that make me sound bad/arrogant?) The entire poem is peculated with allusion after allusion, and although I picked up on quite a few of them (Shakespeare and Dante mainly – there was a LOT of Dante), I can scarcely imagine being taxed with the challenge of understanding the rest of them before there was such thing as “Google.” T.S. Eliot certainly was writing to a well-read audience with The Love Song, and I feel like this is borderline snooty of him. It seems like he only thinks his work needs to be read by a certain class of people and that everyone else in inferior. Especially in that he doesn’t even translate the Dante quote from Canto 27 of the Inferno. Does that make him kinda snooty? Maybe that’s just me. Does anybody have any thoughts on this?

    I also really liked how you interpreted Profrock from the poem. This was one of the poems that I had to read several times, but by the end of the reading I felt like I closely related to the character. Not as if we were similar in person, but at least I felt where he was coming from. The way he wonders the streets and has little drive to do anything (he keeps stating that “there will be time”) reminds me of Ishmael at the beginning of Moby Dick. Did anybody else pick up on this? I would appreciate your thoughts.

    Great job Jessica!

    – Jesse Haynes

  2. I definitely agree with you that the Dante quote makes the writing substantially more exclusive. T.S. Eliot put a velvet rope around his work, literally prohibiting the common man from reading it. I’m picking up the same snooty vibes you are, Jesse.

    I would also add that I was a little surprised that The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was so melancholy. I mean, he is professing his love after all, right? However, after a little research I discovered that T.S. Eliot published this work during World War I. That’s hardly a happy time. Also, modernists tend to lean towards depressing themes anyways. They’re not the most chipper people to begin with, I suppose.

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