Dear Jennifer,

I think we disagree on a couple of points.  First, he did press his point
about Conrad being "elucidative" even though he accepted Pound's view in
the end; he did not "merely" state why he chose it.  He said it was "much
the best" he could find or close to that--my book is downstairs.  But my
point was that he saw the function of the epigraph to be "elucidative."  I
happen to think that one could make a case that Conrad was a better
epigraph than Petronius, but that would be a long discussion. And it has
to do with the whole way one reads the poem.  I think Kurtz's realization at
that moment was a fundamental inner experience of a kind the poem also
evokes.  The Petronius points away from that to the kind of mythic reading
that has for so long obscured so much of what went into the poem.  That
really was a result, in my view, of the reshaping and cutting at the end, to
whomever you attribute the changes.  And I do not think it did really
transform the poem into a unity as Pound implies.

Also I do not see any reason to understand the epigraph as the kind of
measuring against one another you note.  The epigraph, I would think, is
there for the poem and not the poem for the epigraph.  It is not a mutual


Date sent:              Fri, 4 Apr 2003 19:21:05 -0800
Send reply to:          "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From:                   Jennifer Formichelli <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:                On epigraphs: reply to Nancy
To:                     [log in to unmask]

Dear Nancy,

> On the epigraph: Eliot made it the epigraph, and he made an issue with
> Pound about the original Conrad epigraph to TWL that it was "somewhat
> elucidative."  Nancy

I shouldn't say at all that Eliot 'made an issue with Pound' about the
epigraph. He merely stated why he chose it, perhaps thought it was good
(not nearly to my mind so good as the Petronius which he selected). In
fact, had he wanted to 'make an issue' surely he'd have retained it? He
rejected Pound's criticism elsewhere in the poem.

> Is that not one key function of epigraphs and clearly one Eliot
> had in mind when he used them?

Yes, of course; but it takes something to figure out just how
elucidative, and in what way. One means of this is exactly what an
epigraph requests: a comparison between the scene of the epigraph and
work to which it is attached. 'A comparison', as Eliot said, 'in which two
things are measured by each other.'

Yours, Jennifer