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Bookson Pound from UniversityMicrofilms International JoBrantley Berryman. Circe '.sCraft:£:raPound's "Hugh Selwyn Mauberly. " Ann Arbor:UMI, 1983. Guy Davenport.Cities on Hills: AStudyof 1-XXX of Ezra Pounds Cantos. Ann Arbor:UMI, 1983 Peter D'Epiro.A Touch of Rhetoric:£:raPound'sMalatesta Cantos. Ann Arbor:UMI, 1983. Ron Thomas.The Latin Masks of Ezra Pound. Ann Arbor:UMI, 1983. Stephen]. Adams TheUMIseries has rapidly become familiar to students of modern literature. Wecan be grateful for a publishing venture that will release doctoral dissertationsto public view in book form. We may grumble about the price tags,but we are grateful. These books represent, presumably, the best work onPound by younger academics. In this case, however, the buyer is warned tobe selective, for these four books, presented with the blessings of series editor A. Walton Litz and Pound consultant George Bornstein, are an unevenlot. Twoof them, Davenport's and Berryman's, bid to be major contributions toPoundscholarship, ambitious and erudite; but Berryman's monograph is flawedin a most exasperating way. The other two are more specialized: D'Epiroon the Malatesta cantos is mainly a manuscript study, and as such is anecessary,if necessarily tedious, look at a pivotal section of Pound's major work. Thomas, on the other hand, in what promises to be a lively summary of Pound'sLatin interests, is strangled by a perverse thesis. To begin with the best, Davenport's Cities on Hills concentrates on the firstinstallment of thirty cantos. The author, since writing this Harvard dissertation,has gained a sizable reputation not only as critic (The Geography oftheImagination) but as author of fictions (Da Vinci's Bicycle) and illustrator (HughKenner's The Counterfeiters and The Stoic Comedians). The present book- conventional for Davenport if not for a dissertation - begins with an Canadian Review of American Studies, Volume 17, Number 3, Fall 1986, 367-373 368 Stephen]. Adams exposition of Poundian themes, followed by sequential commentary onthe first thirty cantos. This commentary is more than foot-noting: it identifies (insofar as possible) the nexus of each canto as a unit, demonstrating ina practical way the synthesizing imagination through which the poem mustbe read. It becomes, then, despite all the disagreements any reader willhave about specifics, one of the best available introductions to The Cantos. Davenport rides no polemical thesis: The Cantos are, he says, ''about the emergence of our civilized state in various cultures, the progress into one success or another. ..and the decline of these achieved moments'' (p. vii). This unobjectionable idea is developed in ways that rise above ordinary exegesis. Davenport deploys a formidable classical scholarship. His allusions gracefully comprehend Pound's own, and extend further to pertinent authors like Addington Symonds and Jean Seznec. He urges the importance ofPound's economics (without subscribing to Pound's program). Along the wayheoffers many valuable readings: one of the best on the Ur-cantos; informative comments on Pound's English, Divus' Latin, and Homer's Greek in CantoI, plus a clarification of the "Argicida" crux; and so on. Moreover, he isnot above providing convenient aids, like a chronology of Malatesta's career. Most characteristically, however, Davenport allowshimself speculativeand challengeable digressions. His proposed line from Blake to Ruskin to Pound. for example, rests on little evidence; yet the surprising parallels between Fors Clavigera and The Cantos reopen the issue of a direct Ruskin-Pound connection in a compelling way. Davenport's speculative voice has thus survived the writing of a doctorate. This kind of book inevitably contains much that a reader will discard: Davenport's "controlling metaphors" inthe first three cantos (Periplus, Vortex, Taishan) strike me as less useful thanthe conventional Descent-Metamorphosis formulation, especially since the presence of Taishan in Canto III depends on a single reference to "cedars." But differences of this sort, however frequent, simply show that Davenport can be provocative, that he takes academic risks, that he has a gift, like Kenner's, of explaining without explaining away. One minor complaint: this book isa revision of a 1961dissertation published in 1983,but no account is given of the revisions. One wonders why the long delay, and how the author's views of Pound have evolved. This is particularly true in the conclusion, which strikes...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 367-373
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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