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Title: Ezra Pound and modern art 1906-1930
Author: Beasley, R. L.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1999
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My dissertation discusses the early career of the American poet Ezra Pound in relation to visual art at the beginning of the twentieth century. Pound was a leading propagandist of modern art, advertising his friends Wyndham Lewis, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Constantin Brancusi, among others, in his extensive art criticism, and explaining his poetic theories by reference to art movements and practices. The majority of Pound's critics have followed his lead and describe his poetry by using the aesthetic values and terminology Pound conveniently supplied in his prose. I argue that this is an erroneous move, which hides a series of problems in the development of Pound's poetics. Pound's poetry shows surprisingly little evidence of his interest in art; however, unpublished manuscripts show that this evidence existed, but was deliberately excised. My dissertation aims to uncover the sequence of decisions which led to vital changes in Pound's poetic style, by focusing on the periods during which he aligned himself with particular artists or movements. In my first chapter, I look at unpublished essays and poetry written between 1906 and 1908, to explore Pound's interest in the work of James McNeill Whistler, and explain an apparent change in poetic style in 1908. My second chapter deals with Pound's association with the vorticists, which I argue was less a meeting of minds than a method of placing his imagist verse, with its nineteenth-century predilections, in an emphatically modern context. In the third chapter I analyse the earliest drafts of The Cantos in detail, showing how Pound's conception of the poem in 1915 as egalitarian in structure and argument was compatible with the type of visual description he had rejected in 1908. The dada movement, which I discuss in my fourth chapter, contributes to Pound's redefinition of artistic talent. His emphasis on the value of the artist's personality above the artist's works necessitates a reconsideration of the structure of The Cantos in 1922. The fifth chapter examines the role of sculpture in Pound's poetry and prose, in order to determine how it becomes an analogy for Pound's poetic technique.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available