Haunting the Reading Room

Rupert Richard Arrowsmith

in Modernism and the Museum

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199593699
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595684 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Haunting the Reading Room

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  • Literary Theory and Cultural Studies


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This chapter considers the importance of the British Museum Reading Room to the literary figures of early twentieth-century London. The poet Ezra Pound is shown to have visited in the first instance to emulate Dante Gabriel Rossetti's study of European material relating to the Renaissance and Mediaeval periods, after which he developed a psychological dependence on it as a place of composition. The proximity of the Reading Room to the Museum's galleries meant, however, that Pound's interests soon spread out to include ancient Assyria and Egypt, and much of his early London work is shown to incorporate clear references to the art and literature of these regions. The chapter suggests that these experiences paved the way for Pound's more significant engagement with the visual cultures of Japan, China, and Korea a few years later.

Keywords: Ezra Pound; British Museum; archaeology; Assyrian art; Egypt; early poetry; London; Rossetti; Nineveh; Akr Caar

Chapter.  7405 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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