Homo ludens

"Poised between gaiety and gravity"

Prufrockian is a term that entered the vocabulary after the 1917 publication of T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” It refers to the outlook of an aging, inhibited man who is too afraid of life, of himself and of what people would say and too fastidious to dare, to act. His acting had to do with potential erotic encounters. He asked of his own unpursued ventures: “Do I dare disturb the universe?”

Of course, the universe was not looking. Still, Prufrock, asking “’Do I dare?’ and ‘Do I dare?’. . . With a bald spot in the middle of my hair” is a paradigmatic figure for anyone who wonders “what will people say?”

 

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