Title

Cathay

Authors

Ezra Pound

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities | Comparative Literature

Abstract

Ezra Pound’s Cathay (1915) is a masterpiece of modernism, but also of world literature. The muscular precision of images that mark Pound’s translations helped established a modern style for American literature, at the same time creating a thirst for classical Chinese poetry in English. Yet Pound wrote it without knowing any Chinese, relying instead on word-for-word “cribs” left by the Orientalist Ernest Fenollosa, whose notebooks reveal a remarkable story of sustained cultural exchange.

This fully annotated critical edition focuses on Pound’s astonishing translations without forgetting that the original Chinese and Old English poems are masterpieces in their own right. By placing Pound’s final text alongside the poems it claims to translate, as well as the manuscript traces of Pound's Japanese and American interlocutors, the volume resituates Cathay as a classic of world literature.

This landmark edition will forever change how readers view Pound’s “Chinese” poems.

Ezra Pound (1884–1972) was a leading Modernist poet and the driving force behind Imagism and Vorticism. Timothy Billings (Middlebury College), Christopher Bush (Northwestern University), and Haun Saussy (University of Chicago) previously shared the Aldo and Jean Scaglione Prize for Literary Translation for their edition of Victor Segalen’s Stèles.

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