The Confucian Odes of Ezra Pound: A Critical Appraisal

The Confucian Odes of Ezra Pound: A Critical Appraisal

The Confucian Odes of Ezra Pound: A Critical Appraisal

The Confucian Odes of Ezra Pound: A Critical Appraisal

Excerpt

I am not going to begin this essay by asserting that the subject has been unjustifiably neglected, its hidden merits overlooked, its significance underestimated. In a sense, the Confucian Odes have naturally resisted comment, both in quantity and quality, for generally the critic able to judge them as poetry is ill-equipped to judge them as translations, and the critic who can judge them as translations is rarely in a position to judge them on literary merit. Furthermore, I am content to allow an essentially minor work to remain minor; but what I should like to do is to show that this work, perhaps more clearly than the Cantos, defines the achievement and the tragedy of Ezra Pound as a poet, an aesthetician, and an interpreter of the culture that he apotheosized. Pound's reasons for translating the three hundred and four odes of the Classic Anthology (to call the task arduous would be an understatement) constitute a poetic in themselves, a poetic closely related to a philosophy of history--in fact, of human experience in general--and correspondingly the methods that he used are derived from a particular theory of language worked out within this poetic. Pound's ability to put theory into practice, his ability to create what he constantly demanded must be created, is the subject of this book.

Ezra Pound's conception of the ideal translator was . . .

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