Michael Alexander offers ‘an introductory critical survey of Pound’s verse as a whole’. After books by Kenner, Davie, Espey, Dekker, Stock and many others, do we still need such a thing? American academics have become divided unevenly into the Pound industry (producing some fascinating work on sources and contexts) and the majority who have put the poet out of mind – or at least out of the syllabus. The English seem forever to be writing introductions. Do they feel guilty of having slighted the Cantos, ever since Leavis dismissed them as ‘Mr Pound’s The Ring and the Book’? Or are they uneasy at never having absorbed the modernist movement, born on their native soil at the beginning of this country?
Though the plain man’s guide can be a most boring pose, it is not without attraction when it is produced by an enthusiastic, intelligent non-specialist in a genuine spirit of enquiry. Mr Alexander is such an author. He writes beautifully. His critical perception is almost flawless – in fact (to