Stone Cottage

Stone Cottage : Pound, Yeats and the Secret Society of Modernism

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Between 1913 and 1916 Ezra Pound and W.B.Yeats spent three winters living together in a small cottage at the edge of Ashdown Forest in Sussex. The chronicle of these years is the story of how the interaction between Pound and Yeats was a seminal part of the rise of Anglo-American literary modernism. Together, they established many of the practices and, more importantly, the aristocratic tone that would characterize modernist literature for many years to come. Working from a large base of unpublished material, this study will force us to alter some of the most established aspects of the mythology of literary modernism: in particular, Yeats is shown to have been the prime mover in the effort to "make it new"; in more general terms, the book reveals how the rise of literary modernism became inextricably bound with contemporaneous developments in twentieth century politics. Unpublished letters and poems , for example, make explicit for the first time the two poets' direct reaction to the first World War. Along with such events, the state of literary modernism as a whole is considered, along with authors such as Eliot, Joyce, Blunt, Lowell, Moore and Stevens.Readership: those interested in the history of twentieth-century literatureshow more

Product details

  • Hardback | 346 pages
  • 144.78 x 213.36 x 33.02mm | 498.95g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195049543
  • 9780195049541

Review Text

A revealing study of the literary and psychological effects, both positive and negative, of the three winters (1913-1916) that Ezra Pound and W.B. Yeats spent together at Stone Cottage in the Sussex countryside. For the first time, the interrelationships that marked the two poets' collaboration are placed in the context of their final contributions to the Modernist movement. Working in large part from previously unpublished material, Longenbach exposes the roots of Pound's later disastrous espousal of Fascist racial theories and, just as interestingly, comments on the flirtations of Yeats and T.S. Eliot with the same sort of ethno-elitism. Central to Longenbach's thesis is Pound's insistence that poetry (and the arts in general) must be "a secret society," one from which "the rabble" is exluded. "I write for a few hundred people," Pound wrote his publisher, and it was Amy Lowell's turning poetry into "a democratic beergarden," according to Pound, that led to the break between the two leaders of the Imagist movement. The author is equally convincing in his investigations of the effects of Yeats' studies of the occult on Pound's work and of Pound's encouragement of the older poet to move from the fin-de-siecle world of Pater and Wilde into the 20th-century poetic avant-garde. Unfortunately missing from the prepublication galleys are seven pages that apparently discuss Pound's wartime output and reproduce several of his poems for the first time. The pages will appear in a future issue of the New York Times Book Review. Even in its present truncated form, however, this proves to be a work of major importance in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a pair of Modernism's most controversial (and fascinating) figures. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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19 ratings
4.42 out of 5 stars
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4 37% (7)
3 11% (2)
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1 0% (0)
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