Prufrock Illustrated

I just came across this version of Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” illustrated in comic book style. It does a nice job of clarifying some of the strange lines, and made me notice that the cat image extends from the smoke at the beginning to the “afternoon stretching before us” and “being smoothed by fingers” in the middle and end sections. The cat as figure of animal vitality, sexual aggression, and death is echoed in the arm hair of Prufrock’s beloved, which is one of the reasons he becomes paralyzed by timidity.

The play on self and multiple identity — the “face to meet the faces,” Prufrock’s own “head brought in upon a platter,” and the self-mocking description as a secondary character in Hamlet — really comes alive here in connection with death, too. The visual of the etherised patient embedded in the cityscape and the final one of drowning-as-entering-the-party are particularly powerul. If nothing else, it helped to show how surreal and nightmarish — almost cinematic — the poem’s imagery is. Maybe you see something else in it too?’

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