THE CHINESE HISTORY CANTOS
No one is going to be content with a transliteration of Chinese names. When not making a desperate effort at mnemonics or differentiating in vain hope of distinguishing one race from another, I mainly use the french form. Our European knowledge of China has come via Latin and french and at any rate the french vowels as printed have some sort of uniform connotation.
Ezra Pound The Cantos 254.
THE LESSON of Chinese history? As I can have no pretence to “potting” it here, might nevertheless be of two kinds. By implication, we might more despise and suspect the kind of education which we (my generation) received, and we might acquire some balance in NOT mistaking recurrence for innovation.
My generation was left ham ignorant, and with the exception of a few, mostly tongue-tied and inarticulate, specialists the whole occident still ignores 3000 years of great history.
We have not even heard of Tai Tsoung or of Tchin Tsoung. The America of our immediate forebears considered ideogram as a laundry check.
Our history has been parochial, not that there is any harm in studying the history of one’s own parish if one knows what one is at. But to call a book “General History”, and omit the great emperors, is as stupid as to omit Constantine or Justinian–unless it be clearly stated that one is concerned solely with men and events that have been entwined in the development of occidental institutions–the lex Romana being here pertinent to us in a way that no tale of public events, wars, shiftings of borders ever can be.
The specific lesson (1938) might be to recognize the U.S. Constitution as an innovation, and to hesitate for a very long time before scrapping it in favour of expedients and experiments oft tried and oft proved ineffective.
Fads and excesses are never new. One might note that Wu Yung in the recent Boxer times and Kung B.C. found beheading prevalent. Nevertheless the Chinese chronicle records “abolition of capital punishment”. It records a law that the Emperor shd. reflect three days in a sort of retreat, no jazz and only necessary food for three days, before pronouncing a death sentence. (Ordinance of Tai Tsoung 627/649.)
Tai cut down taxes. Tai remobilized the teaching of Kung fu Tseu. At his death the Tartar princes demanded the privilege of immolating themselves in order to serve their Lord in the next world.
That might give one perspective, datum for a custom and a conviction that stretched from the Pacific to the Mediterranean. These Tartars were prevented from observing this antient custom only because Tai had foreseen that they wd. ask to do so, and forbidden it. 1013 de notre ère Tchin Tcoung brought out a new edition of the classics and ordered their distribution.
Before thinking that old-age pensions, medical relief, educational endowments etc. etc. etc. are news, one shd. at least glance at a summary of the chinese story.
To separate what is Chinese and what Japanese needs more knowledge than I yet have or am ever likely to come by. Harakiri for high nobles is pre-Confucian. No more a Jap invention than belief in Paradise was patented by our local theologians.
The idea that orientals are men lacking emotion is more idiotic than almost any other.
We might come nearer to understanding them if we considered their admiration of impassivity to be admiration of something attained per aspera.
In any case we are in a thick fog of ignorance. Daimio, Samurai, a new Generation. Earlier Japanese poets imitating Chinese as Europeans in the seicento wrote latin.
We can blame our ignorance on no one man and on no single professor. The cutting off of England from Europe from the time of Napoleon, and the damnable stinking and pusillanimous subservience of American poor fish to second-rate and tenth-rate English opinion do not wholly excuse us.
Though their lamentable effects enter an explanation.
We have had 150 or 200 years of Chinese scholarship printed in French and/or latin and we COULD have got on with it faster.
Ezra Pound Guide to Kulchur 274-7
Note on colours: green for the link to the poem; violet: link to the Companion page of a canto.
CHINESE HISTORY CANTOS – BIBLIOGRAPHY
BOOKS AND DISSERTATIONS
- Driscoll, John. The “China Cantos” of Ezra Pound. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wicksell, 1983.
- Fang, Achilles. “Materials for the Study of Pound’s Cantos.” 4 vols. Diss. Harvard U, 1958. Vol I: 81-173.
- Holaday, Woon-Ping Chin. “Ezra Pound's Use of Moyriac de Mailla’s Histoire Générale de la Chine: A Source Study of the Chinese History Cantos.” Diss. University of Toledo, 1977. DAI 38: 2789A
- Nolde, John J. Blossoms from the East: The China Cantos of Ezra Pound. Orono: National Poetry Foundation, 1983.
ARTICLES IN JOURNALS AND COLLECTIONS
Byron, Mark. “Ezra Pound’s Oriental Hinterlands.” Text, Translation, Transnationalism: World Literature in 21st Century Australia. Ed. Peter Morgan. North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2016, 33-53.
Cantrell, Carol H. and Ward Swinson. “Cantos LII-LXXI: Pound’s Textbook for Princes.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 17.2-3 (1988): 111-44.
- Chen, Keng-hsiung, and Yu-lan Huang. “Ezra Pound’s Chinese Cantos: A Dilemma.” Proceedings of 2011 Conference on Language and Literature Education. Ed. Chen Dongrong. Miaoli, Taiwan: Yu Da University, 2011. 83-99.
- Farahbakhsh, Alireza. “The Image of Confucius in Ezra Pound’s ‘Chinese Cantos’ (Cantos LII-LXI).” International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR) 5.6 (June 2016): 1450-1455. Free online.
- Gordon, David. “‘Confucius, Philosophe’: An Introduction to the Chinese Cantos 52-61.” Paideuma 5.3 (1976): 387-403.
- Halperen. Max. “Old Men & New Tools: The Chinese Cantos of Pound.” Trace 52 (Spring. 1964): 1-8.
- Li, Qingjun. “Ezra Pound’s Poetic Mirror and the “China Cantos”: The Healing of the West.” Southeast Review of Asian Studies 30 (2008): 61-54. 41-54. Free online here and here.
- Nadel, Ira. “Visualizing History: Pound and the Chinese Cantos.” A Poem Containing History. Textual Studies in The Cantos. Ed. Lawrence S. Rainey. Ann Arbor: Michigan UP, 1997. 151-166.
- Nagahata, Akitoshi. “Pound’s Representation of the Chinese Frontiers: From the War Zone to the Green World.” The New Ezra Pound Studies. Ed. Mark Byron. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2019. 127-40.
- Nolde, John J. “Ezra Pound and Chinese History.” Ezra Pound and History. Ed. Marianne Korn. Orono: National Poetry Foundation, 1985. 99-118.
- Rabaté, Jean Michel. “‘Sounds Pound’: History and Ideology in the China Cantos.” In Myth and Ideology in American Culture. Ed. Liliane Blary. Villeneuve d’Ascq Nord: Presses universitaires Septentrion, 1976. 22-41.
- Su, Kent. “The Genealogy of the China Cantos.” Cross-Cultural Ezra Pound. Eds. John Gery, Walter Baumann, and David McKnight. Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 2021. 91-102.
- Sun, Hong. “Pound’s Quest for Confucian Ideals: The Chinese History Cantos.” Ezra Pound and China. Ed. Zhaoming Qian. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan Press, 2003. 96-119.
- Terrell, Carroll F. “The Chinese Dynastic Cantos.” Paideuma 5.1 (1976): 95-9.
- Wellen, Paul. “Pound and China: Ezra Pound’s Preference for Chinese Philosophy over Western Philosophy, and his misuse of Confucius.” Comparative Civilizations Review 29 (Fall 1993): 91-104. Free online here.
BOOK CHAPTERS AND SECTIONS
- Carpenter, Humphrey. A Serious Character. The Life of Ezra Pound. New York: Delta, 1988. 568-572.
- Cookson, William. “LIII-LXI Chronicle of Dynasties.” In A Guide to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. 1985. London: Anvil, 2001. 74-7.
- De Rachewiltz, Mary and Maria Ardizzone. “Cantos LII-LXXI: LII-LXI.” In: Ezra Pound. I Cantos. A cura di Mary de Rachewiltz. [Bilingual English-Italian edition]. Milano: Mondadori, 1985. 1539-41.
- Davie, Donald. Ezra Pound. The Poet as Sculptor. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1964. 160-61.
- Davis, Earle. Vision Fugitive: Ezra Pound and Economics. Lawrence KS.: The UP of Kansas, 1968. 97-101.
- Fang, Achilles. “Materials for the Study of Pound’s Cantos.” 4 vols. Diss., Harvard U, 1958. Vol I: 84-173.
- Flory, Wendy. Ezra Pound and The Cantos: A Record of Struggle. New Haven: Yale UP, 1980. [Section: 154-169.]
- Furia, Philip. “Chinese Mirrors.” In Pound’s Cantos Declassified. University Park and London: The Pennsylvania State UP, 1984. 75-86.
- Huang, Guiyou. “Chinese History.” The Ezra Pound Encyclopedia. Eds. Demetres P. Tryphonopoulos, and Stephen J. Adams. Westport, CT, and London: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005. 57-58.
- Kenner, Hugh. “Inventing Confucius.” In The Pound Era. London: Faber, 1975. 445-58.
- Liebregts, Peter. Ezra Pound and Neoplatonism. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2004. [Section: 236-243.]
- Makin, Peter. “The China Cantos.” In Pound’s Cantos. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins UP, 1985. 213-22.
- Moody, David A. ”Two books for governors: (1) cantos 52-61.” Ezra Pound: Poet. A Portrait of the Man and His Work. II: The Epic Years 1921-1939. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 271-84.
- Moody, David A. “The Cantos: Cantos LII-LXI.” The Ezra Pound Encyclopedia. Eds. D. Tryphonopoulos and S. Adams. Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 2005. 37-38.
- Nicholls, Peter. “A Metaphysics of the State.” Ezra Pound’s Cantos: A Casebook. Ed. P. Makin. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. 149-164.
- Nicholls, Peter. Ezra Pound: Politics, Economics and Writing. A Study of The Cantos. London: Macmillan, 1984. [Section: 112-124.]
- Pearlman, Daniel. “The Dynastic Cantos.” In The Barb of Time. On the Unity of Ezra Pound’s Cantos. New York: Oxford UP, 1969. 211-34.
- Rabaté, J. M. Language, Sexuality and Ideology in Ezra Pound’s Cantos. London: Macmillan, 1986. [Section: 87-105.]
- Read, Forrest. ’76: One World and the Cantos of Ezra Pound. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1981. 248-65.
- Selby, Nick. “Chinese Whispers. Historical Exempla in the China Cantos.”Poetics of Loss in The Cantos of Ezra Pound. From Modernism to Fascism. Lewiston: Edwin Meller Press, 2006. 47-102.
- Sicari, Stephen. “Chinese History.” Pound’s Epic Ambition. Dante and the Modern World. New York: SUNY Press, 1991. 107-113.
- Surette, L. “China.” A Light from Eleusis. A Study of Ezra Pound’s Cantos. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1979. 146-159.
- Wilhelm, J. J. Ezra Pound The Tragic Years. 1925-1972. University Park: The Pennsylvania State UP, 1994. 164-70.