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  • Pound and Eliot
  • Archie Henderson and Christopher McVey

i Ezra Pound

The year was an extraordinarily active one in Pound studies. The online Bibliography of English Language Scholarship on Ezra Pound, assembled and edited by Archie Henderson and Roxana Preda (http://ezrapoundsociety.org/index.php/english-language-scholarship-on-ezra-pound/the-bibliographic-project), records a new Pound edition; 3 monographs; 4 collective volumes; a special issue of a periodical; and 84 other articles and book chapters.

a. Cathay

The new edition is Cathay: A Critical Edition by Ezra Pound, ed. Timothy Billings (Fordham). The book consists of the texts of Cathay (1915), the Chinese poems from Lustra (1916), and two translations from the Little Review (1918); cribs for Cathay and other poems, which make up the bulk of the book; and a coda, Pound's 1918 essay "Chinese Poetry." Significantly, the cribs are credited in the table of contents to "Ernest Fenollosa et al." The "alia" are for the most part the two persons mentioned along with Fenollosa on Cathay's original title page: Mori Kainan, Fenollosa's tutor, and Ariga Nagao, who translated for Mori during those lessons. Hirai Kinza, Fenollosa's earlier tutor whose crib for one poem was used by Pound in Cathay ("Light rain is on the light dust"), is also one of the "alia." Billings argues convincingly that the cribs are much more of a collaborative effort than has been generally recognized. Regarding the cribs for Fenollosa's lessons with Mori, Billings writes, "The ideas are Mori's, the language of Fenollosa's cribs [End Page 111] is often Ariga's, and may even be more Ariga's than Fenollosa's in most places." Billings has discovered that the cribs appear to follow the kundoku (gloss-reading) process, a traditional Japanese textual practice for reading kanbun (classical Chinese). The transcriptions follow Fenollosa's arrangement: "(1) the Sino-Japanese pronunciation in rōmaji (Roman letters) as shorthand for each character; (2) individual glosses for each character, including compounds; (3) literal, explanatory paraphrases of whole lines; and (4) additional commentaries on historical allusions, biographical information, and aesthetic appreciation, often on the facing verso leaf." To these Billings has added the Chinese originals, mostly unseen by Pound. The addition of Chinese characters distinguishes Billings's transcriptions from those appearing in the recent Cathay: Centennial Edition, ed. Zhaoming Qian (see American Literary Scholarship [AmLS] 2015, p. 122). This is not the first time that Fenollosa's (collaborative) cribs have been published. Partial transcriptions have been edited by Anne Chapple (1988), Hugh Kenner (1971), Wai-Lim Yip (1969), Sanehide Kodama (1982), Qian (2016), and Yunte Huang (2001), all of whom are faulted by Billings for various transcription errors. However, Billings fails to note at least two additional published transcriptions: Kodama's "The Road to Cathay: Ezra Pound's Experiments in Translation" (Annual Report of Studies [Doshisha Women's College, Kyoto, Japan] 28 [1977]: 201–29), which includes transcriptions of the Fenollosa notebook material for "The City of Choan" and "The River Song"; and Tomiichi Takata's "E. Pound's Cathay and E. Fenollosa's MSS. on Chinese Poetry" (Bulletin of Atomigakuen Women's University 14 [March 1981]: 109–63). Takata transcribes all the notebook texts related to the poems that Pound published in Cathay. As with the transcriptions by the scholars noted above, there are textual differences between Takata's and Billings's—many dozens, in fact. Without an accounting by Billings or access to the notebooks themselves (or facsimiles of them), however, it is practically impossible for a reader to gauge the significance of the variants or to choose the accurate (or more accurate) reading when one studies the Takata and Billings transcriptions side by side. As an example, in his transcription of "Short Introduction" in "Song of the Bowmen of Shu," Takata renders a passage as "He had to dispatch his army to defend against the outsiders," while Billings has "He had / to despatch his army to defend / the outsiders." "Defend the outsiders" is clearly wrong and changes the intended meaning, but is it Fenollosa's (or Ariga's) error? Or Takata's to add a word? Or Billings's to leave a word out? Some of...

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