Monday, August 27, 2012

Ezra Pound and Poetic value


Pound fascinates me, probably for the wrong reasons. It’s as if an outsider gate crashed the emperor’s parade, convinced a small but powerful portion of the crowd he was the real emperor, and the fact that he was naked, and knew that he was naked, and knew more about nudity than anyone else and was proud of being naked, was proof of his right to be the emperor and only those who could understood nakedness on his terms would be saved and those that didn’t or couldn't or wouldn't were simply confessing to their own stupidity.

As Author Function the sign “Ezra Pound” is unstable.  For some it equals “Genius” for others “Fraud” for others “Lunatic anti-Semitic fascist” .  But you can read the poems of Yeats or Eliot or Bunting and come to a conclusion about their abilities as a poet from their poems. Their biographies and reputations seem  irrelevant. With Pound, however,  it’s almost as if you have to decide first; genius or fraud and then read the poems in the light of that decision because it seems impossible to do it the other way round.

Which suggests something about the way the literary critical field can work that is so very disturbing it’s easier not to think about it.

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