BK. Ezra Pound

49. ‘Trilingual System Proposed for World Communications: Noted Scholar of Noh Suggests Bilingual or Trilingual Edition of Hundred Best Books on Japanese Literature’. Japan Times and Mail, 15 May 1939, p. 4.

    ‘I respectfully ask for a bilingual or trilingual edition of the hundred best books of Japanese and ideogramic literature.’ Reprinted in Ezra Pound and Japan.  

By this date Pound was cut off from most outlets for English publication (see 82b7 and 9) and had made arrangements with Kitasono to have his work appear in this English-language newspaper in Tokyo. Much of his writing for that publication does not directly concern Japan, though here he makes ‘three proposals’ to the Kokusai bunka shinkôkai, the ‘Society for International Culture’: first, he ‘respectfully ask[s] for a bilingual or trilingual edition of the hundred best books of Japanese and ideogramic literature’; second, he calls for ‘the whole of Noh’ to be filmed or ‘registered on sound-track’, for the Japanese ‘have there a treasure like nothing we have in the Occident’; third, he proposes ‘a trilingual system for world communications’, for ‘none of the schemes for . . . universal languages is at all satisfactory’, and the ‘greatest practical . . . simplification would be a triple system: Ideogram, with the Japanese sound (syllabic) comment, Italian, and English’. Pound had first proposed a set of bilingual ‘ideogram’ and English editions of Chinese and Japanese classics in 1938, and he remained preoccupied with the idea through the early war years (see 45d), though even that preoccupation became overshadowed by a second, the importance of a set of films of the nô canon. On his last pre-war trip to America, Pound visited the Japanese Section of Library of Congress to propose the edition of bilingual East Asian classics, and was shown there a film of AOI NO UE (see 51, 82b4, and 134). By late 1939 he was insisting the whole of the nô be filmed, and soliciting the aid of the film curator at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (see 82e2); and by 1941 he was proposing seriously on Radio Rome and in a letter to the Japanese Ambassador to Italy that the United States should, and might, trade Guam for the set of films (76e and 82d, and see also 82b14). Ezra Pound and Japan (82) reprints all of Pound’s articles for the Japan Times organisation (see 50, 51 and 53-55 for others pertinent here), and includes details of his appointment as ‘Italian Correspondent’ to the paper.





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