This review of the new critical edition of Ernest Fenollosa’s The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry analyzes the editors’ aims to contextualize and revalue the text’s contributions both to American modernist poetics and to American Orientalism. It elaborates some of the important differences between the well-known copy of Fenollosa’s essay, edited and published by Ezra Pound in 1918, and the author’s final draft of the essay, finished in 1906. Particular attention is paid to Pound’s omission of Fenollosa’s early paragraphs dealing with contemporary Asian politics, which the editors of this volume read alongside some of Fenollosa’s earlier writings, also presented in this volume, particularly a short piece called “The Coming Fusion of East and West.” The review then turns to consider the consequences of this and other emendations for the American poetic tradition, for which Fenollosa’s text occupies a foundational role, and critically presents the editors’ view that a serious treatment of “The Chinese Written Character” must recognize the importance of Buddhist philosophy for Fenollosa, rather than focus exclusively on the American intertexts and influences it brings together.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 131-138
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.