This reading focuses on Canto 13. This Canto is important for a number of reasons. To begin, it provides us with a useful means with which to assess the origins of Ezra Pound’s longstanding study of and engagement with classical Chinese literature and culture. (I discuss these matters in depth in the opening sections of the reading, which charts Pound’s burgeoning interest in all things Chinese during the early decades of the 20th century.) Canto 13 also denotes the first appearance of the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius in The Cantos. Much has already been written about the influence that the philosophical doctrines of Confucius came to exert on and over Pound. I take stock of the existing secondary critical literature about these important matter in the reading, before moving on to more strictly poetic topic. I begin by discussing Pound’s treatment of landscape in his early – and highly influential – volume of Chinese translations (Cathay, 1915), before turning my attention to Canto 13. I then move through the Canto, which draws heavily on available translations of key works of Confucian philosophy, sequentially. Having first proffered a range of fresh interpretative close-readings of numerous passages contained in the poem itself, the reading draws to a close by gesturing at some of the ways in which Pound’s interest in China and Confucius can in fact be said to resonate throughout subsequent sections of The Cantos and his career more generally.
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