The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry: A Critical Edition

Front Cover
Fordham Univ Press, Aug 25, 2009 - Foreign Language Study - 256 pages
0 Reviews
First published in 1919 by Ezra Pound, Ernest Fenollosa's essay on the Chinese written language has become one of the most often quoted statements in the history of American poetics. As edited by Pound, it presents a powerful conception of language that continues to shape our poetic and stylistic preferences: the idea that poems consist primarily of images; the idea that the sentence form with active verb mirrors relations of natural force. But previous editions of the essay represent Pound's understanding-it is fair to say, his appropriation-of the text. Fenollosa's manuscripts, in the Beinecke Library of Yale University, allow us to see this essay in a different light, as a document of early, sustained cultural interchange between North Americaand East Asia.Pound's editing of the essay obscured two important features, here restored to view: Fenollosa's encounter with Tendai Buddhism and Buddhist ontology, and his concern with the dimension of sound in Chinese poetry.This book is the definitive critical edition of Fenollosa's important work. After a substantial Introduction, the text as edited by Pound is presented, together with his notes and plates. At the heart of the edition is the first full publication of the essay as Fenollosa wrote it, accompanied by the many diagrams, characters, and notes Fenollosa (and Pound) scrawled on the verso pages. Pound's deletions, insertions, and alterations to Fenollosa's sometimes ornate prose are meticulously captured, enabling readers to follow the quasi-dialogue between Fenollosa and his posthumous editor. Earlier drafts and related talks reveal the developmentof Fenollosa's ideas about culture, poetry, and translation. Copious multilingual annotation is an important feature of the edition.This masterfully edited book will be an essential resource for scholars and poets and a starting point for a renewed discussion of the multiple sources of American modernist poetry.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


A Discrimination
An Ars Poetica
The Chinese Written Language as a Medium for Poetry
Synopsis of Lectures on Chinese and Japanese Poetry
Chinese and Japanese Poetry Draft of Lecture I Vol II
Chinese and Japanese Traits
The Coming Fusion of East and West
Chinese Ideals
Retrospect on the Fenollosa Papers
Works Cited

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

ERNEST FRANCISCO FENOLLOSA (1853-1908) taught at the Imperial University of Tokyo. In 1890 he became Asian curator at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. EZRA POUND (1884-1972) was a leading Modernist poet and the driving force behind Imagism and Vorticism. HAUN SAUSSY is Bird White Housum Professor of Comparative Literature at Yale University.His books include The Problem of a Chinese Aesthetic and Great Walls of Discourse and Other Adventures in Cultural China. JONATHAN STALLING is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma. He is a co-editor of The Chinese Written Character as aMedium for Poetry: A Critical Edition (Fordham). LUCAS KLEIN is a graduate student in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University.

Bibliographic information