Critic as Scientist
The modernist poetics of Ezra Pound
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First published in 1981, Critic as Scientist provides a detailed and scholarly account both of the scientific background and of contemporary artistic issues in its analysis of Ezra Pound’s poetics. During the crucial period of his years in London, Ezra Pound was striving to formulate not only a new system of poetics but also a new language through which he could both define the critic’s procedure and announce his modernity. It was in science that Pound discovered the vocabulary that became his most characteristic gesture during the literary crises of the time. The use of scientific terminology in his ‘propaganda’ for a new ‘renaissance’ belonged, initially, to specifically American modes of aesthetic tradition, as typified by Whistler and aspects of New England transcendentalism. A consideration of popular versions of physics and biology, and of the ‘scientific attitude’ displayed by such contemporaries as Fenollosa, Hulme, Ford and Eliot, reveals that the major terms and practices of Pound’s critical vocabulary were located in the issues of nineteenth and early twentieth-century science. The author has sought to demystify key words in the Poundian vocabulary and has suggested a wider literary and cultural context for the study of Pound’s aesthetic theory. This book will be of interest to students of literature.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Introduction 1. Poet as geometer 2. The seriousness of the artist 3. Correspondences: modes of idealist science 4. The vortex: shapes ancient and modern 5. Tradition and race-memory 6. Towards a conclusion: the endless sentence Notes Name index
Ian F. A. Bell