China’s profound influence on the avant-garde in the 20th century was nowhere more apparent than in the work of Ezra Pound, Bertolt Brecht, and the writers associated with the Parisian literary journal Tel quel. Chinese Dreams explores the complex, intricate relationship between various “Chinas”—as texts—and the nation/culture known simply as “China”—their context—within the work of these writers. Eric Hayot calls into question the very means of representing otherness in the history of the West and ultimately asks if it might be possible to attend to the political meaning of imagining the other, while still enjoying the pleasures and possibilities of such dreaming. The latest edition of this critically acclaimed book includes a new preface by the author.
“Lucid and accessible . . . an important contribution to the field of East-West comparative studies, Asian studies, and modernism.” —Comparative Literature Studies
“Instead of trying to decipher the indecipherable ‘China’ in Western literary texts and critical discourses, Hayot chose to show us why and how ‘China’ has remained, and will probably always be, an enchanting, ever-elusive dream. His approach is nuanced and refreshing, his analysis rigorous and illuminating.” —Michelle Yeh, University of California, Davis
Must poetic form be, as Yeats demanded, "full, sphere-like, single," or can it accommodate the impurities Yeats and his Modernist generation found so problematic? Sixty years later, these are still open questions, questions Marjorie Perloff addresses in these essays.
Ezra Pound among the Poets
Edited by George Bornstein University of Chicago Press, 1985 Library of Congress PS3531.O82Z623 1985 | Dewey Decimal 811.52
"Be influenced by as many great writers as you can," said Ezra Pound. Pound was an "assimilative poet" par excellence, as George Bornstein calls him, a writer who more often "adhered to a . . . classical conception of influence as benign and strengthening" than to an anxiety model of influence. To study Pound means to study also his precursors—Homer, Ovid, Li Po, Dante, Whitman, Browning—as well as his contemporaries—Yeats, Williams, and Eliot. These poets, discussed here by ten distinguished critics, stimulated Pound's most important poetic encounters with the literature of Greece, Rome, China, Tuscany, England, and the United States. Fully half of these essays draw on previously unpublished manuscripts.
Ezra Pound and China
Zhaoming Qian, Editor University of Michigan Press, 2003 Library of Congress PS3531.O82Z62165 2003 | Dewey Decimal 811.52
Ezra Pound and China, the first collection to explore the American poet's career-long relationship with China, considers how Pound's engagement with the Orient broadens the textual, cultural, and political boundaries of his modernism. The book's contributors discuss, among other topics, issues of cultural transmission; the influence of Pound's Chinese studies on twentieth-century poetics; the importance of his work to contemporary theories of translation; and the effects of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism on Pound's political and economic thought.
Richly illustrated, the book draws readers closer to the heart of Pound's vision. Ezra Pound and China will become an invaluable resource to students and scholars of Pound, cultural studies, translation theory, poetics, Confucianism, and literary transmission and reception.
Zhaoming Qian is Professor of English, the University of New Orleans.
Ezra Pound met Margaret Cravens in Paris in 1910 during one of his most creative and formative periods. Margaret Cravens, of Madison, Indiana, had come to Paris several years earlier to study piano and was drawn to the young Pound out of a shared interest in poetry and the arts. Their friendship began when she offered Pound generous financial support, which continued, unknown to anyone else, until June 1912, when she committed suicide in Paris, one year after her father's suicide in Indiana. Pound was deeply affected by her death, as was the poet H. D., who had recently come to know her. Pound's letters to Cravens, extensively annotated, are published here for the first time; her suicide note to him is also included. Ezra Pound and Margaret Cravens contains photographs and previously unpublished material by Pound and H.D., as well as an excerpt from H.D.'s autobiographical novel Asphodel, in which Cravens figures prominently. This portrait of a friendship provides insight into the literary achievements of Pound and H.D. and tells the unknown story of Margaret Cravens's tragic life.
In the summer of 1922, Ezra Pound viewed the church of San Francesco in Rimini, Italy, for the first time. Commonly known as the Tempio Malatestiano, the edifice captured his imagination for the rest of his life. Lawrence S. Rainey here recounts an obsession that links together the whole of Pound's poetic career and thought.
Written by Pound in the months following his first visit, the four poems grouped as "The Malatesta Cantos" celebrate the church and the man who sponsored its construction, Sigismondo Malatesta. Upon receiving news of the building's devastation by Allied bombings in 1944, Pound wrote two more cantos that invoked the event as a rallying point for the revival of fascist Italy. These "forbidden" cantos were excluded from collected editions of his works until 1987. Pound even announced an abortive plan in 1958 to build a temple inspired by the church, and in 1963, at the age of eighty, he returned to Rimini to visit the Tempio Malatestiano one last, haunting time.
Drawing from hundreds of unpublished materials, Rainey explores the intellectual heritage that surrounded the church, Pound's relation to it, and the interpretation of his work by modern critics. The Malatesta Cantos, which have been called "one of the decisive turning-points in modern poetics" and "the most dramatic moment in The Cantos," here engender an intricate allegory of Pound's entire career, the central impulses of literary modernism, the growth of intellectual fascism, and the failure of critical culture in the twentieth century. Included are two-color illustrations from the 1925 edition of Pound's cantos and numerous black-and-white photographs.
For more than a decade scholars have understood that Ezra Pound employed mystical concepts of love in his writing of The Cantos. In Ezra Pound and the Mysteries of Love, Akiko Miyake furthers this understanding by looking at The Cantos as a major work in the Christian mystic religious tradition. The author uncovers, in the five volumes of Gabriel Dante Rossetti’s Il mistero dell’amor platonico del medio evo, the crucial link between The Cantos and the traditions of mystical love established by the ancient Greeks at Eleusis and borrowed by the late medieval Italian and Provençal poets. Drawing upon this key five-volume work, as well as comprehensive research in both primary and secondary sources, Miyake brings the partial perceptions of other critics and commentators into an illuminating whole. Disclosing the deliberateness of The Cantos, Miyake provides new insight into Pound’s sense of culture and into the nature of his Confucianism. She sheds light on the disastrous path Pound followed into Fascism and anti-Semitism, and, in contrast to the image of a “pagan” Pound that has emerged in recent years, reveals a poet writing as a Christian from within the Christian mythical tradition.
Interventions into Modernist Cultures is a comparative analysis of the cultural politics of modernist writing in the United States and Taiwan. Amie Elizabeth Parry argues that the two sites of modernism are linked by their representation or suppression of histories of U.S. imperialist expansion, Cold War neocolonial military presence, and economic influence in Asia. Focusing on poetry, a genre often overlooked in postcolonial theory, she contends that the radically fragmented form of modernist poetic texts is particularly well suited to representing U.S. imperialism and neocolonial modernities.
Reading various works by U.S. expatriates Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein, Parry compares the cultural politics of U.S. canonical modernism with alternative representations of temporality, hybridity, erasure, and sexuality in the work of the Taiwanese writers Yü Kwang-chung and Hsia Yü and the Asian American immigrant author Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. Juxtaposing poems by Pound and Yü Kwang-chung, Parry shows how Yü’s fragmented, ambivalent modernist form reveals the effects of neocolonialism while Pound denies and obscures U.S. imperialism in Asia, asserting a form of nondevelopmental universalism through both form and theme. Stein appropriates discourses of American modernity and identity to represent nonnormative desire and sexuality, and Parry contrasts this tendency with representations of sexuality in the contemporary experimental poetry of Hsia Yü. Finally, Parry highlights the different uses of modernist forms by Pound in his Cantos—which incorporate a multiplicity of decontextualized and ahistorical voices—and by Cha in her 1982 novel Dictee, a historicized, multilingual work. Parry’s sophisticated readings provide a useful critical framework for apprehending how “minor modernisms” illuminate the histories erased by certain canonical modernist texts.
Although the troubadours flourished at the height of the Middle Ages in southern France, their songs of romantic love, with pleasing melodies and intricate stanzaic patterns, have inspired poets and song writers ever since, from Dante to Chaucer, from Renaissance sonneteers to the Romantics, and from Verlaine and Rimbaud to modern rock lyricists. Yet despite the incontrovertible influence of the troubadours on the development of both poetry and music in the West, there existed no comprehensive anthology of troubadour lyrics that respected the verse form of the originals until now.
Lark in the Morning honors the meter, word play, punning, and sound effects in the troubadours' works while celebrating the often playful, bawdy, and biting nature of the material. Here, Robert Kehew augments his own verse translations with those of two seminal twentieth-century poets—Ezra Pound and W. D. Snodgrass—to provide a collection that captures both the poetic pyrotechnics of the original verse and the astonishing variety of troubadour voices. This bilingual edition contains an introduction to the three major periods of the troubadours—their beginning, rise, and decline—as well as headnotes that briefly put each poet in context. Lark in the Morning will become an essential collection for those interested in learning about and teaching the origins of Western vernacular poetry.
Machine Art and Other Writings presents previously unpublished and rare writings by one of the literary giants of the modernist period, Ezra Pound. Written from the late 1920s to the early part of the 1940s, these essays, selected by Maria Luisa Ardizzone and including “Machine Art,” “How To Write,” “European Paideuma,” and “Pragmatic Aesthetics,” are typically Poundian in style—irascible, eccentric, and by turns both engaging and cryptic. Importantly, these essays from Pound’s Italian years shed light both on the sections of the Cantos written in the late 1940s and on the underpinnings of his well-known anti-Semitism. The essays in this volume address Pound’s diverse aesthetic concerns, including his Vorticism and his criticism of Western metaphysics, his advancement of the machine as a new criterion for beauty, his encounter with the German Bauhaus movement, and his search for a type of writing ruled by mathematical rather than grammatical laws. Machine Art and Other Writings documents the wide proportions of Pound’s polemic against the abstractions of modernism and reveals the extent to which he was at odds with the metaphysical assumptions of his time. The volume, edited by Ardizzone, is the result of years of systematic and intensive study of Pound’s manuscripts, including glosses from the texts of his personal library. Proposing an unconventional approach to Pound studies that focuses on marginality and intertextuality, she subverts the canonical hierarchy of Pound’s works by revealing the power of texts considered marginalia. General readers, students and scholars in the fields of European and American modernism, aesthetics, the history of technology, and art history, as well as Pound specialists and the many poets and writers influenced by Pound, will greet the publication of Machine Art and Other Writings with interest and anticipation.
As the study of travel writing has grown in recent years, scholars have largely ignored the literature of modernist writers. Modernist Travel Writing: Intellectuals Abroad, by David Farley, addresses this gap by examining the ways in which a number of writers employed the techniques and stylistic innovations of modernism in their travel narratives to variously engage the political, social, and cultural milieu of the years between the world wars.
Modernist Travel Writing argues that the travel book is a crucial genre for understanding the development of modernism in the years between the wars, despite the established view that travel writing during the interwar period was largely an escapist genre—one in which writers hearkened back to the realism of nineteenth-century literature in order to avoid interwar anxiety. Farley analyzes works that exist on the margins of modernism, generically and geographically, works that have yet to receive the critical attention they deserve, partly due to their classification as travel narratives and partly because of their complex modernist styles.
The book begins by examining the ways that travel and the emergent travel regulations in the wake of the First World War helped shape Ezra Pound’s Cantos. From there, it goes on to examine E. E. Cummings’s frustrated attempts to navigate the “unworld” of Soviet Russia in his book Eimi,Wyndham Lewis’s satiric journey through colonial Morocco in Filibusters in Barbary,and Rebecca West’s urgent efforts to make sense of the fractious Balkan states in Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. These modernist writers traveled to countries that experienced most directly the tumult of revolution, the effects of empire, and the upheaval of war during the years between World War I and World War II. Farley’s study focuses on the question of what constitutes “evidence” for Pound, Lewis, Cummings, and West as they establish their authority as eyewitnesses, translate what they see for an audience back home, and attempt to make sense of a transformed and transforming modern world.
Modernist Travel Writing makes an original contribution to the study of literary modernism while taking a distinctive look at a unique subset within the growing field of travel writing studies. David Farley’s work will be of interest to students and teachers in both of these fields as well as to early-twentieth-century literary historians and general enthusiasts of modernist studies.
Marsh locates Pound and Williams firmly in the Jeffersonian tradition and examines their epic poems as manifestations of a Jeffersonian ideology in modernist terms.
The modernist poets William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound were latter-day Jeffersonians whose politics and poetry were strongly marked by the populism of the late 19th century. They were sharply aware of the social contradictions of modernization and were committed to a highly politicized, often polemical poetry that criticized finance capitalism and its institutions--notably banks--in the strongest terms.
Providing a history of the aesthetics of Jeffersonianism and its collision with modernism in the works of Pound and Williams, Alec Marsh traces "the money question" from the republican period through the 1940s. Marsh can thus read two modernist epics--Pound's Cantos and Williams's Paterson--as the poets hoped they would be read, as attempts to break the hold of "false" financial values on the American imagination.
Marsh argues that Pound's and Williams's similar Jeffersonian outlooks were the direct result of the political battles of the 1890s concerning the meaning of money. Although Pound's interest in money and economics is well known, few people are aware that both poets were active in the Social Credit monetary-reform movement of the 1930s and 1940s, a movement shown by Marsh to have direct links to Jeffersonianism via American populism. Ultimately, the two poets took divergent paths, with Pound swerving toward Italian fascism (as exemplified in his Jefferson and/or Mussolini) and Williams becoming deeply influenced by the American pragmatism of John Dewey. Thus, Marsh concludes, Pound embraced the fascist version of state-capitalism whereas his old friend proclaimed a pragmatic openness to the new selves engendered by corporate capitalism.
Money and Modernity exemplifies the best of recent literary criticism in its incorporation of American studies and cultural studies approaches to bring new insight to modern masterworks.
On the Modernist Long Poem
Margaret Dickie University of Iowa Press, 1986 Library of Congress PS310.M57D53 1986 | Dewey Decimal 811.5209
Beyond Lionel Trilling's classic definition of Modernism as anticultural and subversive, Margaret Dickie posits American Modernist poetry as both conservative and affirmative—conservative because it was dominated by the composition of the long poem, affirmative because these poems aimed to restore public themes to poetry, to instruct and improve, to "affirm the gold thread in the pattern," as Ezra Pound claimed.
Each poet discussed in this new study—T. S. Eliot, Hart Crane, William Carlos Williams, and Ezra Pound—began his career as an experimenter in brief lyrics and then, paradoxically, developed an ambition to write a long public poem. The poems they wrote—The Waste Land, The Bridge, Paterson, and The Cantos—differed in length, in program, and in composition, but all were alike in their idealization of form, their commitment to the long poem, and the troubled and difficult process of their composition. Read together, they offer a new understanding of the Modernist sense of form shared by these quite different writers.
Tracing the development of each poem from the poet's initial announced plans through the lengthy writing and reconsideration of purpose, Dickie offers a new history not only of each poem but of the American Modernists and the ways they adapted the avant-garde tendencies of European Modernism to their own native needs.
Chinese culture held a well-known fascination for modernist poets like Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. What is less known but is made fully clear by Zhaoming Qian is the degree to which oriental culture made these poets the modernists they became. This ambitious and illuminating study shows that Orientalism, no less than French symbolism and Italian culture, is a constitutive element of Modernism. Consulting rare and unpublished materials, Qian traces Pound’s and Williams’s remarkable dialogues with the great Chinese poets—Qu Yuan, Li Bo, Wang Wei, and Bo Juyi—between 1913 and 1923. His investigation reveals that these exchanges contributed more than topical and thematic ideas to the Americans’ work and suggests that their progressively modernist style is directly linked to a steadily growing contact and affinity for similar Chinese styles. He demonstrates, for example, how such influences as the ethics of pictorial representation, the style of ellipsis, allusion, and juxtaposition, and the Taoist/Zen–Buddhist notion of nonbeing/being made their way into Pound’s pre-Fenollosan Chinese adaptations, Cathay, Lustra, and the Early Cantos, as well as Williams’s Sour Grapes and Spring and All. Developing a new interpretation of important work by Pound and Williams, Orientalism and Modernism fills a significant gap in accounts of American Modernism, which can be seen here for the first time in its truly multicultural character.
This book explores the relationships between four modernist poets and the museums that helped shape their writing. During the early twentieth century, museums were trying to reach a wider audience and used displayed objects to teach that audience about art, culture, and ecology. Writers such as Yeats, Pound, Moore, and Stein borrowed strategies and techniques from museums in order to create literary modernism. Poetry in the Museums of Modernism places these writers' poetry and prose within the context of specific gallery spaces, curatorial practices, displayed objects, and exhibition objectives of the museums that inspired them, exposing the ways in which literary modernism is linked to museums.
Although critics have attested to the importance of the visual arts to literary modernists and have begun to explore the relationships between literary production and social institutions, before now no one has examined the particular institutions in which modernist poets found the artworks, specimens, and other artifacts that inspired their literary innovations. Catherine Paul's book offers the reader a fresh encounter with modernism that will interest literary and art historians, literary theorists, critics, and scholars in cultural studies and museum studies.
Catherine Paul is Associate Professor of English, Clemson University.
Pound in Purgatory, available now in paperback, overturns all previous explanations of Ezra Pound's anti-Semitism by uncovering its roots in economic and conspiracy theory. Leon Surette demonstrates that, contrary to popular opinion, Pound was not a life-long anti-Semite and consistently ignored or resisted anti-Semitic comments from his correspondents until after 1931.
From 1931 to 1945 Pound's poetry took a back seat to his activities as an economic reformer and propagandist for the corporate state. Pound believed he had a simple and practical solution for the economic woes of the world brought on by the Great Depression, and he became increasingly preoccupied with capturing political power for the economic reform he envisioned.
As the world spiraled toward war, Pound's program of economic reform foundered and he gradually succumbed to a paranoid belief in a Jewish conspiracy. Through an incisive analysis of Pound's correspondence and writings, much of it previously unexamined, Surette shows how this belief fostered the virulent anti-Semitism that pervades his work-–both poetry and prose-–from this time forward.
Ezra Pound and E. E. Cummings carried on a long and varied correspondence from the 1920s until Cummings's death in 1962. This volume collects all of the important letters from this important friendship in the history of modern poetry.
Throughout the correspondence both poets reveal themselves and their beliefs to a remarkable degree. Pound entrusted to Cummings details of his political outlook in the 1930s and 1940s, including his opinions about Mussolini's Italy. The letters to Cummings also shed new light on the question of Pound's sanity after World War II. Although he was diagnosed as mentally unfit, the letters generally show no evidence of paranoia, only of his characteristic eccentricity.
Similarly, these letters should provoke a reevaluation of Cummings. Critics have treated Cummings's political views as either strictly private matters or merely incidental to his art. The letters, however, show that Cummings's radically conservative political opinions are wholly consistent with his poetics, and raise the question of the relation between Cummings's political principles and his enthusiasm for particular forms (and particular stars) of mass entertainment.
In addition to their political revelations, the letters are steeped in the literary climate--and literary gossip--of the times. Pound comments often and candidly on Cummings's poetry and prose; both Pound and Cummings send light verse to each other. And the poets exchange anecdotes about such figures as Henry James, Wyndham Lewis, T. S. Eliot, Edmund Grosse, Max Eastman, and Aldous Huxley, among other writers.
There is much here to interest and delight both fans and foes of Pound and Cummings. The book will be of primary importance to students and scholars of modern poetry, especially those who emphasize the intersection of literary works and political history.
Barry Ahearn is Associate Professor of English, Tulane University.
This volume provides a first-hand survey of the arts and literature during a crucial period in modern culture, 1915–1924. Pound was then associated with such germinal magazines as BLAST, The Little Review, The Egoist, and Poetry; he was discovering or publicizing writers such as Robert Frost, Hilda Doolittle, T. S. Eliot, and James Joyce; and he was championing the painters Wyndham Lewis and William Wadsworth as well as the sculptors Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, and Constantin Brancusi. Pound wrote to John Quinn—a New York lawyer, an expert in business law, and a collector of unusual taste and discrimination—about these artists and many more, urging him to support their journals, collect their manuscripts, and buy and exhibit their paintings and sculptures. Quinn at one time owned manuscripts of Ulysses and The Waste Land, Brancusi’s sculpture Mlle. Pogany, and Picasso’s painting Three Musicians. Yet he was often skeptical about the value of new schools of art, such as Vorticism, and disturbed by the outspokenness of authors such as Joyce. Pound’s letters are unusually tactful when he counters Quinn’s doubts and explains the premises of experimental art. Pound’s letters to Quinn are touched with his characteristic humor and wordplay and are especially notable for their lucidity of expression, engendered by Pound’s deep respect for Quinn.