BK. Ezra Pound

92. Reviews of Certain Noble Plays of Japan (21), 1916-17.


a. ‘The Japanese Masque’. Nation (London) 20 (1916): 87. The reviewer writes that he ‘may be talking like the most outlandish Philistines . . . the most insusceptable to forms of beauty which happen to be remote from and alien to our habitual atmosphere of art, the most egregiously European’, but he ‘confesses’ to preferring Yeats’s ‘highly trained and eloquent introduction [see BL11] to all the material which has provoked it’. Finds in Yeats’s introductory remarks ‘the seed of . . . austere and penetrating truth’ about ‘democratic and realistic art, unsanctified by tradition’, but wonders if ‘our own past [is] so empty a granary, that we must transplant an exclusive, hieratic, allegorical, and chaste Oriental drama of the fourteenth century to generate a new literature’; about Pound’s hand in the ‘finishing’ of the plays, suggests that his ‘literary past is hardly of the kind to dispose us to unquestioning acceptance of his taste, judgment, and success as an interpreter’.

b. E[liot], T. S. ‘The Noh and the Image’. Egoist 4 (1917): 102-03. Eliot hopes that a new edition of the plays might be published separately from Fenollosa’s notes, for then their ‘importance  . . . as literature . . . will be more evident’. The present edition is more of ‘a textbook’, and so readers have dwelt on its ‘informative character, rather than on its intrinsic value’, and treated it more as a ‘service to literature’ than ‘literature itself’. Eliot believes that the ‘European stage does not stimulate the imagination’ as does the Japanese, and like Pound finds a ‘unity of image’ in the nô (see 12, 17f, and 87), which he equates with ‘the unity of certain Cantos of Dante’ but notes is unlike in both degree and kind the presentation of image on the Western stage. See Bush (161) for description and evaluation of how this ‘unity of image’ perceived by Pound, Eliot, and Yeats aided in the birth and development of Anglo-American and Irish modernism, and see also 112.





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