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Monday, October 14, 2013

Assumptions of Poundian Criticism

1. The 1st assumption is that the reader is serious, and probably wants to be a writer (a better writer). At the very least wants to read and appreciate like an expert.

2. The next assumption is that the expert guide has to have credibility by being an excellent writer himself (him, in Pound's case). Academic criticism by people who don't know what they are talking about is only confusing.

3. Next, the only way of studying literature is to catch it at its best. Find the writers who actually invented particular techniques, or perfected them. You can't learn much if anything from mediocre work.

4. The ways that poetry are excellent are definable in concrete terms. We can look at three main ways of "charging language with meaning" and apply them to virtually any text.

5. The literary sensibility is trainable. You have to pay attention to what's actually there on the page and with enough experience you, too, will be expert. At bottom the attitude is empiricist. Pound won't tell you the answers; you have to see for yourself.

6. There's an ethical imperative here, an implied (sometime stated) connection between this clarity of vision and a clear-sighted vision of a well-run society.

So serious expertise, impatience with questions beside the point, close attention to what's there.

In a way, all this should be unobjectionable. Poets like Zukofsky believed the same thing (from the left not the right). I pretty much believe in 1-5 as well.

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