What is the link between Eliot’s style and vision of his contemporary age and that of the Modernist poets?

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T. S. Eliot was one of the leading voices of Modernism and was close to the center of its complex web of reciprocal influences. At the beginning of his career, Eliot often took advice from the poet who is often regarded as having done more than anyone to articulate what...

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T. S. Eliot was one of the leading voices of Modernism and was close to the center of its complex web of reciprocal influences. At the beginning of his career, Eliot often took advice from the poet who is often regarded as having done more than anyone to articulate what Modernism meant: Ezra Pound. Many books have been written on the meaning of Modernism, but at its very most basic, the type of Modernism espoused by Pound and Eliot can be described as a literary reaction against both the horrors of modernity and the poetic style of the Victorians, which was felt to be quite inadequate to describe the twentieth century.

Pound often commented on Eliot's early drafts and advised him on what he ought to cut in order to make the poem more purely Modernist. It is interesting to look at one passage that survived Pound's censorship, as an illustration of the direction in which he was trying to push Eliot, and in which Eliot later went. These lines are close to the end of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
Pound objected that these lines seemed to belong in a Victorian dramatic monologue by Browning or Tennyson. They described a quite different character from the timid, repressed little man Eliot had built up over the preceding lines. From being a distinctively Modern product of alienation, Prufrock has become a garrulous windbag like Polonius. This is the only passage of voluble, Victorian-style writing that made it into "Prufrock," and Eliot quickly abandoned this style entirely, in favor of the stringy, muscular aesthetic of "The Waste-Land," the disjunct style of which fully reflects the blasted landscape it describes.
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