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Ezra Pound (1885 - 1972)

Related: 1885 - 1972

Related: anti-semitism - Mussolini (admirer of) - American literature - modernist literature - Modernism

In his 1913 essay The Serious Artist, Pound discusses two types of art; The "cult of beauty" and the "cult of ugliness". He compares the former with medical cure and the latter with medical diagnosis, and goes on to write "Villon, Baudelaire, Corbière, Beardsley are diagnosis." - "beauty is difficult": Cantos LXXIV, LXXX


Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (October 30, 1885 – November 1, 1972) was an American expatriate, poet, musician, critic, and economist who, along with T. S. Eliot, was a major figure of the modernist movement in early 20th century poetry. He was the driving force behind several modernist movements, notably Imagism and Vorticism. The critic Hugh Kenner said on meeting Pound: "I suddenly knew that I was in the presence of the center of modernism." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezra_Pound [May 2006]

Importance and criticism

Because of his political views, especially his support of Mussolini and his anti-Semitism, Pound continues to attract much criticism. However, it is almost impossible to ignore the vital role he played in the modernist revolution in 20th century literature in English. Pound's perceived importance has varied over the years. The location of Pound -- as opposed to other writers such as T.S. Eliot -- at the center of the Anglo-American Modernist tradition was famously asserted by the critic Hugh Kenner, most fully in his account of the Modernist movement titled The Pound Era. The critic Marjorie Perloff has also insisted upon the centrality of Pound to numerous traditions of "experimental" poetry in the 20th century.

As a poet, Pound was one of the first to successfully employ free verse in extended compositions. His Imagist poems influenced, among others, the Objectivists and The Cantos were a touchstone for Ginsberg and other Beat poets. Almost every 'experimental' poet in English since the early 20th century has been considered by some to be in his debt.

As critic, editor and promoter, Pound helped the careers of Yeats, Eliot, Joyce, Wyndham Lewis, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, H.D., Marianne Moore, Ernest Hemingway, D. H. Lawrence, Louis Zukofsky, Basil Bunting, George Oppen, Charles Olson and other modernist writers too numerous to mention as well as neglected earlier writers like Walter Savage Landor and Gavin Douglas.

Immediately before the first world war Pound became interested in art when he was associated with the Vorticists (Pound coined the word). Pound did much to publicize the movement and was instrumental in bringing it to the attention of the wider public (he was particularly important in the artistic careers of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Wyndham Lewis).

As translator, although his mastery of languages is open to question, Pound did much to introduce Provençal and Chinese poetry to English speaking audiences. For example, insofar as major poets such as Cavalcanti and Du Fu, are known to the English speaking world, it is mainly because of Pound. He revived interest in the Confucian classics and introduced the West to classical Japanese poetry and drama (e.g. the Noh). He also translated and championed Greek, Latin and Anglo-Saxon classics and helped keep these alive for poets at a time when classical education and knowledge of anglo-saxon was in decline.

In the early 1920s in Paris, Pound became interested in music, and was probably the first serious writer in the 20th century to praise the work of the long-neglected Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi and to promote early music generally. He also helped the early career of George Antheil, and collaborated with him on various projects.

The secret to Pound's seemingly bizarre theories and political commitments perhaps lie in his occult and mystical interests, which biographers have only recently begun to document. 'The Birth of Modernism' by Leon Surette is perhaps the best introduction to this aspect of Pound's thought. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezra_Pound#Importance [May 2006]

Make It New: Essays (1935) - Ezra Pound

Make It New: Essays (1935) - Ezra Pound [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezra_Pound [Sept 2005]

See also: new - modernism - 1935

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