Daring to disturb the universe: Heidegger’s authenticity and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Literator 30 (2):107-126 (2009)

Authors
Dominic Griffiths
University of the Witwatersrand
Abstract
In Heidegger’s Being and Time certain concepts are discussed which are central to the ontological constitution of Dasein. This paper demonstrates the interesting manner in which some of these concepts can be used in a reading of T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. A comparative analysis is performed, explicating the relevant Heideggerian terms and then relating them to Eliot’s poem. In this way strong parallels are revealed between the two men’s respective thoughts and distinct modernist sensibilities. Prufrock, the protagonist of the poem, and the world he inhabits illustrate poetically concepts such as authenticity, inauthenticity, the ‘they’, idle talk and angst, which Heidegger develops in Being and Time.
Keywords Martin Heidegger  Authenticity  T.S. Eliot  The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
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