Literary Essays of Ezra Pound

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New Directions Publishing, 1968 - Literary Collections - 464 pages
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For this definitive collection of Pound's Literary Essays, his friend (and English editor) T. S. Eliot chose material from five earlier volumes: Pavannes and Divisions (1918), Instigations (1920), How to Read (1931), Make It New (1934), and Polite Essays (1937). 33 pieces are arranged in three groups: "The Art of Poetry," "The Tradition," and "Contemporaries." Eliot wrote in his introduction: "I hope that this volume will demonstrate that Pound's literary criticism is the most important contemporary criticism of its kind . . perhaps the kind we can least afford to do without . . . the refreshment, the revitalization and making new' of literature in our time."

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This is a pretty solid book from a time when this sort of writing was still in its infancy. Sure, many of Pound's judgments were just plain silly (Arnaut Daniel as one of the best poets or the idea that you need to learn a bunch of fancy languages to really understand art), but they were also the first judgments be made with at least some semblance of reason. Overall I'd recommend the book more as a solid historical piece than a means of truly learning about literature. I'd also recommend his "Spirit of romance" for the same reasons. 

Review: Literary Essays of Ezra Pound

User Review  - Gabriel - Goodreads

I have only read the first section of this: "The Art of Poetry," but wish I had come upon it sooner. In particular, the two essays, "The Serious Artist," and "How to Read," are absolutely excellent. Read full review


A Retrospect
The Serious Artist
The Teachers Mission
The Constant Preaching to the Mob
Date Line
The Tradition
Arnaut Daniel
The Rev G Crabbe ll b
Irony Laforgue and some Satire
Swinburne versus his Biographers
Lionel Johnson
The Prose Tradition in Verse page
H Lawrence
T S Eliot

The Renaissance
Notes on Elizabethan Classicists
Early Translators
Arnold Dolmetsch

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About the author (1968)

New Directions has been the primary publisher of Ezra Pound in the U.S. since the founding of the press when James Laughlin published New Directions in Prose and Poetry 1936. That year Pound was fifty-one. In Laughlin s first letter to Pound, he wrote: Expect, please, no fireworks. I am bourgeois-born (Pittsburgh); have never missed a meal. . . . But full of noble caring for something as inconceivable as the future of decent letters in the US. Little did Pound know that into the twenty-first century the fireworks would keep exploding as readers continue to find his books relevant and meaningful.

T. S. Eliot (1888 1965) was one of the fathers of modernism and a defining voice in English-language poetry. He is the author of some of the best known poems in the English language, including "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," The Waste Land, "Ash Wednesday," and Four Quartets. The leading poet of the modernist avant-garde, Eliot radically reimagined the possibilities for literature in the twentieth century and beyond, and was also renowned as a playwright and as a literary and social critic. Eliot's books of criticism include The Sacred Wood, while his theatrical works include Murder in the Cathedral. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948.

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