The Awkward Love Songs of J Alfred Prufrock, the Catcher within the Rye, and Smells Like Teen Spirit

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The phrase “wooing” does not get used very a lot anymore. Not simply because the phrase itself sounds outdated, however as a result of the connection scene has modified a tad over the past hundred plus years.

Newfound social flexibility has taken lots of the ritual out of affection, which is nice in case you do not wish to be exchanged to the neighboring villager for a goat however much less nice while you’re attempting to determine how lengthy to attend earlier than you name somebody again. Or what to say while you do name. Or whether or not there’s something to name about within the first place. OR, dare we speculate, if the decision may one way or the other end in marriage, youngsters, and a set 10/30 mortgage.

Suffice it to say that the connection between modernity and love is “sophisticated.” When you wrestle with in the present day’s mating rituals, increase a toast to those awkward wooers throughout the twentieth-century: J. Alfred Prufrock, Holden Caulfield, and Kurt Cobain. Along with being tongue-twisted, evasive male lovers, all three figures come up throughout notably fats and comfortable instances in American historical past – which actually does not assist in case you already really feel like a loser.

J. Alfred is the unique man awkwardly crushing on the woman on the celebration. His complete 132-line “love music” is a hypothesis about whether or not or to not method his love curiosity, whose identification he does not even have the heart to reveal. There are a number of alternate interpretations of The Love Track of J. Alfred Prufrock, together with the next:

  1. Prufrock approaches the girl he loves, loses his nerve, and offers up with out saying something.
  2. Prufrock wanders by way of the town streets imagining approaching mentioned lady, then anticipates rejection and offers up with out saying something.
  3. Prufrock spends your complete poem at residence, the place he imagines wandering by way of the town streets imagining his fantasy self approaching mentioned lady, being rejected, after which giving up with out saying something.
  4. Prufrock is not even in love with anybody particular and simply likes to torture himself.

People, welcome to modernism. It does not get any simpler from right here.

Quick ahead thirty years to The Catcher within the Rye: the heyday of Ford Mustangs, drive-in burger joints, the nuclear household, post-war purposelessness, and an unbelievable strain to adapt. Then think about attempting to this point.

Though Catcher won’t strike you as a love story a lot because the disillusioned ramblings of a naïve seventeen-year outdated, when you strip away all of the criticism of phonies, meanness, maturity, and recognition, you are left with… not a lot of something. Which is why we won’t ignore the truth that the 2 areas of Holden’s life that stay unscathed are his (deceased) little brother, Allie, and his (absent) crush, Jane. These are the rulers by which Holden measures every part.

After all, Holden by no means works up the nerve to undergo with calling Jane – any of the instances he tries – however he does violently assault his roommate after suspecting him of “giving her the time” (presumably by coercion). So far as Holden goes, that is fairly the show of knight-in-shining-armor-ness. Sadly, the truth that the ebook ends with Holden in some type of establishment offers us the distinct impression that issues with Jane by no means fairly work out.

Leap forward one other forty years for the disjointed, jilted love story of the breakout 1991 hit Smells Like Teen Spirit. In it, Cobain describes a girl – “over-bored and confident” – that routinely makes his thoughts bounce to “a unclean phrase.” He then says “good day” a number of instances earlier than asking, “how low?” You easy talker, you.

Subsequent comes the refrain, which assures us that “with the lights out, it is much less harmful.” In case you are not already feeling uncomfortable, Cobain then rattles off the next gadgets like they one way or the other belong collectively: “a mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido.” Yup. Nothing places a gal within the temper like a pejorative racial time period, a pigmentation dysfunction, a blood-sucking insect, and discuss of the ol’ intercourse drive. We won’t say we’re shocked that the music ends in a famously repeated “denial.”

For somebody so romantically inept, it is solely becoming that Cobain be dubbed the “self-hating icon of the inarticulate era” by the UK Telegraph. Then once more, in the event that they suppose the 1990’s have been the one inarticulate era, the joke is on them.

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