STONE COTTAGE: Pound, Yeats, and Modernism by James Longenbach

STONE COTTAGE: Pound, Yeats, and Modernism

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A revealing study of the literary and psychological effects, both positive and negative, of the three winters (1913-1916) that Ezra Pound and W.B. Yeats spent together at Stone Cottage in the Sussex countryside. For the first time, the interrelationships that marked the two poets' collaboration are placed in the context of their final contributions to the Modernist movement. Working in large part from previously unpublished material, Longenbach exposes the roots of Pound's later disastrous espousal of Fascist racial theories and, just as interestingly, comments on the flirtations of Yeats and T.S. Eliot with the same sort of ethno-elitism. Central to Longenbach's thesis is Pound's insistence that poetry (and the arts in general) must be ""a secret society,"" one from which ""the rabble"" is exluded. ""I write for a few hundred people,"" Pound wrote his publisher, and it was Amy Lowell's turning poetry into ""a democratic beergarden,"" according to Pound, that led to the break between the two leaders of the Imagist movement. The author is equally convincing in his investigations of the effects of Yeats' studies of the occult on Pound's work and of Pound's encouragement of the older poet to move from the fin-de-siÉcle world of Pater and Wilde into the 20th-century poetic avant-garde. Unfortunately missing from the prepublication galleys are seven pages that apparently discuss Pound's wartime output and reproduce several of his poems for the first time. The pages will appear in a future issue of the New York Times Book Review. Even in its present truncated form, however, this proves to be a work of major importance in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a pair of Modernism's most controversial (and fascinating) figures.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1987
ISBN: 0195066626
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press