Wednesday, September 23, 2020

From Pound's ABC of Reading

 “It is very difficult to make people understand the impersonal indignation that a decay of writing can cause men who understand what it implies, and the end whereto it leads. It is almost impossible to express any degree of such indignation without being called ‘embittered', or something of that sort…. A people that grows accustomed to sloppy writing is a people in process of losing grip on its empire and on itself. And this looseness and blowsiness is not anything as simple and scandalous as abrupt and disordered syntax. It concerns the relation of expression to meaning. Abrupt and disordered syntax can be at times very honest, and an elaborately constructed sentence can be at times merely an elaborate camouflage….

THE READER'S AMBITION may be mediocre, and the ambitions of no two readers will be identical. The teacher can only aim his instruction at those who most want to learn, but he can at any rate start them with an ‘appetizer', he can at least hand them a printed list of the things to be learned in literature, or in a given section thereof. The first bog of inertia may be simple ignorance of the extent of the subject, or a simple unwillingness to move away from one area of semi-ignorance. The greatest barrier is probably set up by teachers who know a little more than the public, who want to exploit their fractional knowledge, and who are thoroughly opposed to making the least effort to learn anything more.”



“WHEN you start searching for 'pure elements' in literature you will find that literature has been created by the following classes of persons:

1 Inventors. Men who found a new process, or whose extant work gives us the first known example of a process.

2 The masters. Men who combined a number of such processes, and who used them as well as or better than the inventors. 

3 The diluters. Men who came after the first two kinds of writer, and couldn't do the job quite as well.

4 Good writers without salient qualities. Men who are fortunate enough to be born when the literature of a given country is in good working order, or when some particular branch of writing is 'healthy'. For example, men who wrote sonnets in Dante's time, men who wrote short lyrics in Shakespeare's time or for several decades thereafter, or who wrote French novels and stories after Flaubert had shown them how.

5 Writers of belles-lettres. That is, men who didn't really invent anything, but who specialized in some particular part of writing, who couldn't be considered as 'great men' or as authors who were trying to give a complete presentation of life, or of their epoch.

6 The starters of crazes. 

Until the reader knows the first two categories he will never be able 'to see the wood for the trees '. He may know what he 'likes '. He may be a 'compleat book-lover', with a large library of beautifully printed books, bound in the most luxurious bindings, but he will never be able to sort out what he knows or to estimate the value of one book in relation to others, and he will be more confused and even less able to make up his mind about a book where a new author is 'breaking with convention' than to form an opinion about a book eighty or a hundred years old. He will never understand why a specialist is annoyed with him for trotting out a second- or third-hand opinion about the merits of his favourite bad writer.

Until you have made your own survey and your own closer inspection you might at least beware and avoid accepting opinions:

1 From men who haven't themselves produced notable work (vide p. 17).

2 From men who have not themselves taken the risk of printing the results of their own personal inspection and survey, even if they are seriously making one.”

Monday, August 10, 2020

Stone Byron's "A Wild Scene"

Saturday, July 18, 2020

"Narcissus on BloomsBury"

Thursday, June 4, 2020

"To Enjoy Is To Obey"

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Viva Last Blues

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

"The human tongue is like a cracked cauldron on which we beat out tunes to set a bear dancing when we would make the stars weep with our melodies."

Sunday, March 1, 2020

"One is asked to believe that 'a man can lead a commonplace and insignificant life as a stock-broker until he reaches the age of forty, and then, under a compulsion which is not made acceptable to the intelligence, develops into a painter of genius so rare that it is not recognized by anyone, except a Dutchman, until after his death.'"