Some elements to consider:
Another language/another culture bring more context, more resonance.
There is a deeper level of irony given that the Petronius story is
really a joke.
Then there is the question of symbolist style, which Eliot got from the
French poets, and Pound got perhaps more directly from the orient
(where the symbolists seem originally to have had it). It is the style
of the very indirect allusion which opens up many creative possibilities
for the reader. Yeats was thinking of much the same thing with his
emotion of multitude.
The Cornrad quote limits possibilities in its directness.
The Petronius has a direct level, but so many other shadowy
eleents waiting in the shadows which the reader is forced to
look at if he wants to make sense of the reference. It is of
the essnce of the Michaelangelo lines in Prufrock. Everybody
wants to know what Eliot meant by it. It seems opaque and yet
there are very pertinent possibilites there for the taking
if one only lets the resonances sink in.
Just some possibilities.
From: Rickard A Parker
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: 2004-Oct-22 10:48 AM
Subject: Re: Death by Water: a reply
Jennifer Formichelli wrote:
> Regarding the epigraph, Eliot did not fret about it; where does he
> fret? Pound writes to him about it, and Eliot replies he has replaced
> it with the Petronius, 'or something like it' (there's a cryptic
> comment for you). And you will recall that Pound almost withdrew his
> insinuation about the epigraph all together: 'Who I am to grudge him
> his laurel crown?' , telling Eliot to 'do as you like'.
One account of Eliot's "fret" (TWL: A Facsimile ... p. 125)
Pound: "I doubt if Conrad is weighty enough to stand the citation."
Eliot: "Do you mean not use the Conrad quote or simply not put
Conrad's name to it? It is much the most appropriate I can find,
and somewhat elucidative."
Pound: "Do as you like about Conrad; who am I to grudge him his
> And he did: he
> chose the far superior, far more rich, Petronius. If you like, I can,
> at some point, when I don't have to go to work, describe exactly why I
> think the epigraph Eliot selected is far superior to the one he
Jennifer, please do send this in. I lean the other way but whenever
I try to reason it out or write why I just can't do it.
> And how, most of all, could such a unity be 'constructed' by
Sun, moon, puppy, stars, candle