Stan Smith

The Pound in your Pocket

Ezra Pound and His World

By Peter Ackroyd

Thames & Hudson 127pp £5.95 order from our bookshop

We have had the English Auden but not, so far, the Pound sterling. Xenophobic British critics have pounced with glee on Pound’s midwestern origins, as if parochiality constituted some kind of original sin. Cosmopolitan Americans like Hugh Kenner, on the other hand, have emphasised Pound’s own cosmopolitanism, as if a forged affiliation with medieval Provence, Renaissance Italy or classical China were in itself the one thing needful for salvation.

Central to both approaches is a convenient myth: that the hard-nosed Modernism of the American Pound and Eliot and the Irish Joyce and Yeats represents an absolute break with the English mainstream tradition of writers such as Hardy and Edward Thomas. Only Donald Davie, his confidently provincial Englishness cross-pollinated with transatlantic spores, has resisted half-intuitively such easy myths, finding in both Hardy and Pound an equal fascination and cultural centrality.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Andrew Irwin examines the language and structure of Reservoir 13, a 'portrait of a whole village' by Jon McGregor ,
    • David Jacques's Garden of Court and Country: English Design 1630-1730, reviewed by Tim Richardson ,
    • Lucy Popescu () appeals on the behalf of Rashad Ramazanov, a writer and blogger imprisoned in Azerbaijan ,
    • ''the icon of restlessness for a world that never seems able to settle.'' How Hamlet went on tour ,
    • . is upon us. Look out for free copies of Literary Review for festival attendees.,
    • 'If there is a god, nature is the breath of it and art ... is its messenger.' Jan Morris contemplates Wordsworth ,
    • Weekend read 2: Take inspiration from Jonathan Meades's 'anti'-recipes and 'serve up a treat' this Sunday ,