Mr. Eliot, beloved of Pound
Is riding his crafty go-cart 'round
While many a gifted latter-day poet
Is eating his dust -- they sure can't sow it.
This paradox is underwritten by Eliot's own, internal conflict; he famously described poetry not as the expression of emotion, but the escape from it. Perhaps as a result, there's a strange mixtures of tones in his best poems, combining a kind of unemotional dryness with a rich, sometimes biting wit. Both are on ample display in his early masterpiece, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," here adapted by Anthony Ventura.
Ventura chooses not to illustrate each line, but instead provides a series of scenes -- we see the statue of David, imagined as perhaps the work by Michelangelo that the women in the poem are discussing; followed a version of Prufrock as a sunglassed, balding Mad Men-era businessman, complete with dangling cigarette. A lone woman, with bouffant hair and oversize Jackie-O sunglasses, reposes with a cup of tea on a bench seat, beside a skull which plaintively declares "That is not what I meant at all"! All are illustrated
The Irish writer James Joyce, during his career, sought to establish himself as the great voice of Modernism, and something more, its representative -- a goal in which he largely succeeded. He was once heard to boast that his writings would give scholars something to think of for the next three hundred years, and what for others would be a boast was for Joyce an understatement.
Although he did not originate the technique of "stream of consciousness," his "eiphanies" -- which began with Dubliners in 1914 -- recast the notion, and with Ulysses (1922) he had his greatest triumph. The story adapted here, "Araby," is from Dubliners, and offers a characteristic example of Joyce's technique of 'epiphany' -- in which a small, crystalline moment of realization, often framed by disappointment and loss, briefly illuminates 'dear old dirty Dublin' and brings its ordinary people into a suddenly lyrical light.
The artist Annie Mok employs style that evokes both realism -- in its streets, stones, and buildings -- and an expressive, manga-influenced rendering of human faces. The palate is a blue one, suggesting perhaps the cool and damp of turn-of-the-century Dublin, as well as the old cyanotype photographs that could be bought at photo booths in the form of ready-made postcards.
In his final work, Finnegans Wake, Joyce coins the word "fadograph" for such images -- those which, like old snapshots, fade with time, as does human memory; the word fádo is also Irish Gaelic for long ago," and the word that starts many a folk and fairy tale from the Irish tradition.