The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry

Overview

This important and much-disputed essay edited by Ezra Pound from the manuscript of Ernest Fenollosa (and published in Instigations, London, 1920) has since gone through several editions, despite the ridicule of such sinologists as Professor George Kennedy of Yale, who called it “a small mass of confusion.

The old theory as to the nature of the Chinese written character (which Pound and Fenollosa followed) is that the written character is ideogrammic—a stylized picture of the ...

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Overview

This important and much-disputed essay edited by Ezra Pound from the manuscript of Ernest Fenollosa (and published in Instigations, London, 1920) has since gone through several editions, despite the ridicule of such sinologists as Professor George Kennedy of Yale, who called it “a small mass of confusion.

The old theory as to the nature of the Chinese written character (which Pound and Fenollosa followed) is that the written character is ideogrammic—a stylized picture of the thing or concept it represents. The opposing theory (which prevails today among scholars) is that the character may have had pictorial origins in prehistoric times but that these origins have been obscured in all but a few very simple cases, and that in any case native writers don’t have the original pictorial meaning in mind as they write.

Whether Pound proceeded on false premises remains an academic question. Let the pedants rave. An important extension of imagist technique in poetry was gained by Pound’s perception of the essentially poetic nature of the Chinese character as it is still written.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780872860148
  • Publisher: City Lights Books
  • Publication date: 1/1/2001
  • Pages: 45
  • Sales rank: 1,298,269
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

Lucas Klein is a graduate student in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Conventions

Fenollosa Compounded: A Discrimination Haun Saussy Saussy, Haun 1

The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry: An Ars Poetica: with a Foreword and Notes by Ezra Pound (1918, 1936) Ernest Fenollosa Fenollosa, Ernest 41

App With Some Notes by a Very Ignorant Man Ezra Pound Pound, Ezra 61

The Chinese Written Language as a Medium for Poetry: (final draft, ca. 1906, with Pound's notes, 1914-16) Ernest Fenollosa Fenollosa, Ernest 75

Synopsis of Lectures on Chinese and Japanese Poetry Ernest Fenollosa Fenollosa, Ernest 105

Chinese and Japanese Poetry. Draft of Lecture I. Vol. II Ernest Fenollosa Fenollosa, Ernest 126

Chinese and Japanese Traits Ernest Fenollosa Fenollosa, Ernest 144

The Coming Fusion of East and West Ernest Fenollosa Fenollosa, Ernest 153

Chinese Ideals Ernest Fenollosa Fenollosa, Ernest 166

[Retrospect on the Fenollosa Papers] Ezra Pound Pound, Ezra 174

Notes 177

Works Cited 209

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