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Chinese landscapes in Ezra Pound's Cantos

Su, Kent (Yi-Kuan); (2019) Chinese landscapes in Ezra Pound's Cantos. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

The critical field of Modernism and China has blossomed over the past decade or so. Numerous scholars have attempted to elucidate the importance of modernist writers’ relationship to the culture, philosophy and texts of “China,” which have influenced diverse Anglophone poets and critics. One of the prominent figures in these arguments is invariably Ezra Pound (1885 –1972), whose poetic engagement with China has been the focal point of this ongoing interest in East/West literary relations. The field exploring these intercultural exchanges has yet to address the philosophical and aesthetic significance of Chinese landscapes in The Cantos. The thesis thus focusses specifically on the Taoist and Confucian elements in the evocation of Chinese landscapes in Pound’s Cantos. Because Pound never set foot in Asia, the Chinese landscape imagery of The Cantos was decisively shaped by his adaptation of artistic concepts and philosophical approaches from varied primary sources, such as paintings, translations of Chinese texts, and heirlooms owned by his family. Methodologically, this thesis investigates the extent to which Pound’s evocation of these landscapes, when viewed in the contexts of these original materials, successfully recreates the aesthetic sensibilities and philosophical traditions of ancient Chinese poets and painters. I further argue that these landscapes represent the still points in the kaleidoscope of The Cantos and serve as signifiers of Pound’s paradiso terrestre. It is important to note that Pound did not present this paradiso terrestre as a physical eternal resting place. In The Spirit of Romance of 1910 Pound declared, “There is little doubt that Dante conceived the real Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise as states, and not places” (128). Despite not visiting China, he often presented these landscapes as emblematic of Dante’s concept of heaven. These glimpses of various Chinese landscapes offer The Cantos’ fullest embodiment of a paradiso terrestre. This thesis will accordingly contribute to the intersecting fields of Pound studies, Chinese literary and visual culture studies, and new modernist studies.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Chinese landscapes in Ezra Pound's Cantos
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10078496
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