From: Sara Trevisan
TWL has nothing to do with Conrad nor with Petronius. I think it's the
words themselves that Eliot liked. Otherwise, there would have been some
intrinsecal coherence in the latter choice, which there was not. I don't
think an epigraph is anymore linked to its original context when it
becomes the epigraph to something else.
I think you're on a better path here, Sara. This discussion
has focussed far too much on content and not nearly enough on form.
The medium really is the message .... vous, hypocrite lecteur &c.
One thing TWL does, is exist on several temporal planes at the same
time. The quote from Petronius is also multi-levelled, and becomes
even more so if one includes its context. That is what gives
it its weight, and allows it to show the reader how to read the
poem. The irony is, one needs the poem more to unlock the epigraph
than the reverse -- but then there is a certain playing about
here. Kurtz' horror, and the Sybil's desire to die, match
Baudelaire's discovery of real evil. The faubourg is the key.
The crowd flowed over London bridge. So many...