Language, Sexuality, and Ideology in Ezra Pound's Cantos

By Jean-Michel Rabaté

Subjects: Philosophy Of Law
Paperback : 9780887060373, 339 pages, February 1986
Hardcover : 9780887060366, 339 pages, February 1986

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Table of contents

Abbreviations Used for the Works of Pound

Pound and Heidegger: sites and monuments
The subject of the enunciation
'The Tragic Double of our Day'

1. Symptoms and Voices: the Articulations of the Subject
A. The Logics of Discourse and Idiomatic Synthesis
Engrams of vestigal error
Seeds of speed
Organic symptoms
B. Eternal States of Mind and the State in the Mind
From Myth to the Real
The masks of politics and art
'No logic of discourse'

2. Ideogram and Ideology
Voices and Chinese history
The function of the subject's voice

3. Ezra Pound and Pecuchet: the Law of Quotation
Order and unity in the quotations
Pound's voices and the quotations
'Le personnel manque'
In the Law of the Name

4. The 'Pisan Cantos': Between Reference and Reverence
Each in the name of . ..
Reference to conquer diffidence
That the name be the Name: ploce against catachresis

5. Poundwise: Towards a General Critique of Economy
Ruskin, Dante, and the Bible
'Tokos' as 'son' and interest
Interest between use and abuse
Just price and just time
The circulation of liquidities: money, sexuality, language
By law, not by nature

6. From Ethics to Hermeneutics
A guided tour of Aristotle
'Neo-Platonicks' against 'Plato Inc. '
Hermetic circulation

Conclusion: the Legendary Rite - Writing and Tragedy
Conceptual Index
Index of Names
Index of Cantos


Ezra Pound's Cantos remains among the most influential and difficult of twentieth century poetic writings. But now, for the first time, Rabaté's powerful and original study presents a theory of reading adequate to the challenge of Pound's writing. Using elements from Lacanian psycho-analysis and Heidegger's powerful meditation of poetry and language, this book constructs a theory of reading which both gives full force to the strategies of writing deployed in the Cantos and to the historical and political situations to which those strategies are a response.

This study provides a fresh reading of the familiar Pound canon: Homer, Dante, Ovid but also of the less well-known: Ruskin, Browning, Frobenius. Pound's practice of quotation is understood in the context of a new poetic discourse characterized by parapraxis, ellipsis, condensation and autonomous "voices" which refer the division of the speaking subject back to an "omniform" intellect capable of taking on any new personality at will.

Crucial to an understanding of Pound's situation is the relationship between Chinese and Greek culture, an analysis of which allows Rabaté to elaborate the tragic dimension in Pound's life and works. This book also parallels and contrasts Pound with his major contemporaries such as Eliot and Joyce and with his immediate heirs, like William Carlos Williams, H. D., Zukofsky, and Olson.

Jean-Michel Rabaté is Professor of English at the University of Dijon.