Saturday, 12 December 2015

The Bumptious American

Patrick McGuinness looks back at Ezra Pound:
He was the bumptious American who arrived in England and modernised its poetry and buttonholed its poets, dead or alive, as if they were tweedy laggards in need of a bracing lecture. The early cantos are full of humour and zesty New World egalitarianism. They are exuberant, learned, modern, funny, and also, in narrative terms, followable, though already starting to strain at the joins. In the later cantos, with their great collages of economics, statistics, social and political theory, unglossed segments of Chinese, French, Greek and Latin, Pound obscured the connections that might help us make sense of his project. Like a map with destinations but no roads, the cantos appear frightening, fascinating, rebarbative and barely navigable.

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