Pound and Translation: Ideogram and the Vulgar Tongue

Daniel Katz

in American Modernism's Expatriate Scene

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780748625260
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652006 | DOI:
Pound and Translation: Ideogram and the Vulgar Tongue

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This chapter explores the second implication of Ezra Pound's designation of Henry James as translator: that Pound's own ‘translations’ fully imply the sort of cross-cultural investigations and displacements associated with James. It shows how Pound's translations from the Chinese and Italian are a form of negotiation with the norms of literary London and Victorian Britain. Phanopoeia seems in many ways the least useful of Pound's categories. Chinese writing would evade even the primal ‘translation’ of visual referent into arbitrary phonic signifier. Pound's insistence on maintaining a literal fidelity to Guido's precision precisely by violating the precepts of Dante Gabriel Rossetti implies a very different mapping of debt than that which obtains in the rather joyful and provocative liberties Pound takes with his Propertius. The relationship between translation, haunting and death, whose importance for Pound has been effectively stressed, will return as foundational for Jack Spicer in the 1950s.

Keywords: Ezra Pound; Henry James; translations; phanopoeia; literal fidelity; haunting; death

Chapter.  9914 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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