In a message dated 10/25/02 11:29:24 PM EST, [log in to unmask] writes:
> I think it is important that this epigraph was
> a substitution for the Conrad passage Pound rejected.
> . . .the chronology matters. . . Whatever Eliot was doing
> with the Satyricon was added after
> "The Horror! The Horror!" was displaced when it
> was in its final stages.
> That may well mean it was a reaction to
> the devastation of the war, especially since Eliot
> had just been reading Hermann Hesse.
Nancy, I agree that it's important to note that the Satyricon reference
displaced the Heart Of Darkness quote. I also am starting to think that there
are many reasons why TSE used the Satyricon quote, and I'm trying to sort out
the validity of the possible reasons I've imagined.
I think your point ties in with the point RaphaŽl made earlier:
> the fact that the [Satyricon] conversation
> [from which the TWL epigraph is taken]
> is about erudition and a certain kind of
> intellectualism could certainly have a bearing
> on the way we read both the epigraph
> and the whole poem.
As you say, the chronology matters. One set of timelines to consider are
these (Nancy, I know you know these following quotes and dates, but I'm
including them in this post for the benefit of others on the list):
1) Pre-1922, TSE decides to use an epigraph for TWL from 'Heart of Darkness':
"Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and
surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a
whisper at some image, at some vision, - he cried out twice, a cry that was
no more than a breath-
'The horror! the horror!' "
2) In the January 24, 1922 letter from Pound to TSE, Pound writes "I doubt if
Conrad is weighty enough to stand the citation".
3) In TSE's reply, TSE writes, "Do you mean not use the Conrad quot. or
simply not put Conrad's name to it? It is much the most appropriate I can
find, and somewhat elucidative."
4) Pound writes back, "re the Conrad: who am I to grudge him his laurel
5) On March 12, 1922, TSE writes to Pound, "I have substituted for J. Conrad
the following, or something like it: 'Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse
In other words, TSE initially had decided to use a quite inward-looking quote
from Conrad ("The Horror! The Horror!"), in which words like "desire" and
"surrender" appear in the same order that they are ultimately used in TWL
("mixing memory and desire", "awful daring of a moment's surrender"). Then
Pound says "Conrad isn't 'weighty' enough". Pound doesn't say the quote is
inappropriate or not elucidative, just that it's not 'weighty enough'. TSE
then chooses a "weighty" quote, in Latin and Greek, from a work from
But in that ancient work, the mix of Latin and Greek and the whole
conversation, as RaphaŽl says, "is about erudition and a certain kind of
intellectualism". From what I understand, it's specifically about a phony
intellectualism in which the mere use of literary allusions and foreign
language references is considered 'weighty', even if the allusions are
misused and garbled (Trimalchio speaks of Homer's stories of "the twelve
labors of Hercules or the story of Ulysses and how the Cyclops got his thumb
pinched in the tongs", the first of which [Hercules] is not found in Homer
and the second of which is garbled, as the Cyclops gets a jab in the eye, not
a thumb pinched in tongs).
So, I think part of the Satyricon substitution could be an angry reaction to
'losing' the Conrad quote: Something like, "If THAT'S what the world needs to
think TWL is 'weighty', then, by God, I'll give them a 'weighty', ancient
quote -- I hope the fools (that is, the readers) recognize that the quote
itself makes fun of their own lack of depth in literature."
I've got more to say, but this post is long enough.
-- Steve --