T.S. Eliot was influential both as a poet and as a literary critic during the first half of the twentieth-century. Much of his work is a seminal force in the modernist movement, and he was highly respected, even by those who didn't necessarily imbibe his literary technique or philosophy.
Modernist poetry and modernist artistic forms in general were partly a reaction against nineteenth-century Romanticism. The beginning of Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" illustrates this as a kind of opening salvo against the past:
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky,
Like a patient etherised upon a table.
With its allusion to medicine and cold science this jolting simile is, or is intended to be, a debunking of sentimentalized Romantic imagery . The entire tone of the poem is contrary to the displays of emotion typical of the Romantics and the Victorians. Prufrock is a little man afraid of everything, worrying himself over things like "eating a peach" and...
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