“Visible Nature”

Christopher Bush

in Ideographic Modernism

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780195393828
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866601 | DOI:
“Visible Nature”

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The first chapter opens with the familiar modernist topic of the Chinese written character in the poetics of Ernest Fenollosa, Ezra Pound, and Imagism. Through a comparison of their poetics to the explicitly allegorical and antivisual ideographic imaginings of their French contemporary Paul Claudel, this chapter critiques Imagism’s claims to visual immediacy by arguing for its essentially allegorical underpinnings. It specifically shows that Imagism, despite its apparently contrasting ontology of the image, shares with Claudel’s Mallarmé-influenced poetics a common anti-pictorial tendency that reflects their shared rejection and imitation of photography as a model of vision without consciousness. This model is itself enmeshed with their similarly conflicted notions of Oriental subjectivity as both insufficiently mediated and happily free from convention.

Keywords: Ezra Pound; Ernest Fenollosa; Paul Claudel; Stéphane Mallarmé; ideogram; allegory; imagism; photography

Chapter.  18114 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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