The ragged claws of crisis: Reading ‘Prufrock’ in Detroit
Taylor & Francis
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Reason for embargo
Under embargo until 01 February 2019 in compliance with publisher policy.
Why might a B-grade horror film in 2015 stage a performative reading of T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’? That is precisely what we encounter during It Follows, when a classroom recitation of the well-known poem frames an encounter between the film’s heroine and a spectral force of bodily destruction. This essay begins with an account of that scene before describing how the film uses its historical setting, in Detroit Michigan, to forge an allegorical tale about life during an economic crisis. The essay then takes that film as a critical lens for re-reading the poem rehearsed therein. It does so in order to see if we can read the film’s allegorical tale of economic crisis back into Eliot’s poem, and to thereby approach the poem’s relatively uncontroversial claim to modernism as a textual imprint of the crisis-prone system to which it belongs. It argues that by coupling the poem and the film, released exactly one century apart, we will gain new insights into the deeper tectonics of modernism and specifically of modernist literary horror.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis via the DOI in this record.
Published online 04.09.17.2017