Marianne Moore and China: Orientalism and a Writing of America

Marianne Moore and China: Orientalism and a Writing of America

Marianne Moore and China: Orientalism and a Writing of America

Marianne Moore and China: Orientalism and a Writing of America

Synopsis

Marianne Moore's poetry offers an extraordinarily rich site from which to analyze a tradition of American orientalism which focused upon China. Marianne Moore and China examines why she chose to participate in that tradition and analyses why her borrowing of Chinese models of all kinds--from poetry to painting and philosophy--was so critical to the formation of her verse. This book also examines the ways in which Chinese linguistic features provide Moore with models for her compound nouns and syntactical ellipses, and gathers evidence to show that her abiding concerns for precision, brevity and restraint have both Confucian and Puritan antecedents.

Excerpt

Marianne Moore's poetry offers an extraordinarily rich site from which to analyse a tradition of American orientalism which focused upon China. Marianne Moore and China examines why she chose to participate in that tradition and analyses why her borrowing of Chinese models of all kinds--from poetry to painting and philosophy--was so critical to the formation of her verse. Moore's poetry is part of a long tradition of satirical critique in orientalist writing which finds its roots in English literature. Early America inherited an eighteenth-century European tradition of critical prose writing, in the form of epistolary fictions from so-called 'Chinese' authors, which was used to voice subversive commentaries on the state. in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, American authors, such as Franklin and Emerson, went on to produce similar critiques directed at American social concerns. in the early twentieth century, this tradition of critique in orientalist prose was adopted by American poets, who borrowed Far Eastern poetic models to permanently transform the ways in which poetry in English was being written by launching a literary assault upon what they saw as outmoded methods of versification. Moore used the Far East to express her own dissatisfaction with contemporary trends in the writing of poetry, and embraced the more ancient culture of China as a means of resisting the American habit of looking to Europe as a singular source of cultural tradition 'at home'.

She employed features of the ancient Chinese fu technique in her poems and used images of Chinese supernatural creatures in an effort to establish an alternative to logic and narrative linearity and to facilitate the moral didacticism for which her poetry is known. At the same time that Moore's poems with Chinese imagery represent a deliberate departure from the familiar, the substitution of a Far Eastern literary model for a classical one is a characteristically Modernist break with tradition and resembles, in this respect, the resistance to neo-classicism apparent in eighteenth- century English orientalist writing.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.