I read "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" on bartleby.com last night. Holy shit! How have I never read this poem before?
Part of the answer lies in my embrace of British literature in college to the exclusion of American literature, which just didn't interest me at the time. I didn't even get around to filling my American Lit survey requirement for my major until my senior year (which, incidentally, is when I read The Great Gatsby
for the first time). My exposure to American lit in high school had left me with an impression of parochialism that I found distasteful, mostly because all I wanted at the time was to run off and live in London. So I was okay with the parochialism in British lit. I had made exceptions for Whitman and Hemingway, both of whom I love madly to this day. I since have opened my mind to the amazing bounty of great American writers, but I have a long way to go in my education.