BK. Ezra Pound

112. Teele, Roy E. ‘A Balance Sheet on Pound’s Translations of Noh Plays’. Books Abroad 39 (1965): 168-70.

Points out that ‘as poetic plays’, Pound’s versions of the nô ‘are beautiful and moving, regardless of their accuracy in representing the original form’, and that ‘certainly they have reached a wider and different audience than more academic translations’; further, ‘Pound’s grasp of the “unity of imagery” in noh plays [see, especially, 12, 17f, and 87] . . . is of considerable importance’, for ‘no western or Japanese critic had pointed this out before Pound’. Teele identifies weaknesses in the work, particularly the ‘fragmentary nature’ of many of the plays, and Pound’s failure to distinguish properly between prose and verse sections, but adds that though ‘a list of “errors” would be relatively easy’ to produce, a ‘note of caution’ must be appended, for ‘without being certain what Japanese text Fenollosa used, detailed criticism is difficult’. More recent scholarship has identified the texts upon which Fenollosa relied (see D8), with more help from Hirata Kiichi than anyone understood in 1965 (see especially Furukawa and Yamaguchi, BL109 and D10d), but still one cannot deny Teele’s conclusion that Pound’s work is of ‘historical and literary value’, even if ‘for a sound and wide knowledge of noh plays, readers should now turn elsewhere’.





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