What is The Pound Era about? “How our epoch was extricated from the fin de siècle.” A circle of writers and artists with Ezra Pound at its center: James Joyce, Wyndham Lewis, William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot. “They were born within a six-year span,” Kenner observes. How poems are made and how they work. How scholarship leads to new ways of seeing: Ernest Fenollosa’s ideogram, C.H. Douglas’s A+B theorem, Heinrich Schliemann’s excavations: “For Joyce’s was the archaeologist’s Homer.” The impact of World War I. The potential of vorticism, the tragedy of vorticism. Defending Pound.
I don’t notice the sky on my way to work. I couldn’t say what colors my neighbors’ flowers are. In fact, I’m not even sure that they have flowers…But if, as Scarry argues, the flowers in books are in constant danger of dying for want of the solidity of real flowers, then what is killing the real flowers? And what is the medicine? The analysts of literary effects from Edmund Burke through Viktor Shklovsky, from Scarry to the latest cognitive critics, have been distracted by formal features, structures, and techniques. The sickness of literary flowers may be a problem for literary technique. The sickness of living flowers is a problem for philosophy. And this philosophy, as I will argue, has been the constant practice of a literature that doesn’t want to imitate life, but to transform it.