By Emeritu Ruthven
Bringing a number of the insights of recent serious thought to endure on loads of information regarding Pound's actions as a literary critic (some of it made on hand basically recently), K.K. Ruthven offers a provocative re-reading of a huge modernist author who ruled the discourse of modernism.
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Extra info for Ezra Pound as Literary Critic (Critics of the Twentieth Century)
Douglas’s exposition of Social Credit in Economic Democracy (London, 1920) was its provision of an alternative to that ‘German philology’ which had sacrificed individual intelligence to ‘the Moloch of “Scholarship”’ (Pound 1920:40). Pound’s conspiracy theory is given fictive embodiment in an imaginary conversation (also published in 1917) between a past master called ‘Rabelais’ and a Pound-proxy called ‘Student’, who explains that ‘the whole…drive of modern philology is to make a man stupid’ by smothering him ‘with things unessential’ (PD 90).
Whether or not that is a plausible explanation of Bertrans’s poem, 16 The academic critic Pound wrote in a note on ‘Near Perigord’ for the benefit of its original readers, ‘I must leave the philologists and professional tacticians to decide’ (Pound 1915:146). This note presents ‘Near Perigord’ as a poem based on Pound’s first-hand knowledge of the topography of Provence while on location there: ‘my own observations of the geography of Perigord and Limoges’. It does not entertain the possibility that the kind of reading it offers has been shaped by the application to a Provençal poem of certain reading practices developed by philologists working in adjacent fields, notably classics, where Homeric scholars like Walter Leaf were arguing concurrently that the Trojan War might not have been about Helen and love after all but about the Hellespont and trade (Roessel 1988:106–7).
For several years after his dismissal from Wabash he tried to secure an academic 14 The academic critic position in the USA, especially at times when, as in February 1911, he felt ‘the need of a mental rest’ (EP/MC 64) from that ‘damn’d profession of writing, /where one needs one’s brains all the time’ (P 117). As late as November 1920, when he’d had quite enough of London, he sounded out the lawyer and art patron John Quinn about the possibility of teaching at Columbia University or the College of the City of New York, but not ‘HAAvud’ (Reid 1968:437).
Ezra Pound as Literary Critic (Critics of the Twentieth Century) by Emeritu Ruthven