Over the course of this study, I have sought to accomplish a number of inter-related objectives: (1) to trace the changing terms for the practice of translation as a mode of literary production during the period of Anglo-American Modernism; (2) to demonstrate the ways various Modernist writers employed translation not simply as a transparent procedure for reproducing the exact semantic or even pragmatic meaning of foreign texts, but instead as a complex strategy by which to engage in different discursive arenas ranging from gender to politics to language; and (3) to show how these efforts in turn led to innovations in poetic and novelistic form associated with Modernism as a literary movement in English. In doing so, of course, I have necessarily had to constrain the enormous subject of Modernist translation, selecting relevant examples based on my own historical and aesthetic judgment, as well as according to the limits of my particular linguistic familiarities. As a result, several avenues stand open to further exploration in this expansive domain. Most obvious of these, the enormous body of Ezra Pound’s work as a translator alone offers considerable opportunities for additional research and discussion. For example, it remains not just to assess yet again the “accuracy” or “fidelity” of “The Seafarer” to the original Anglo-Saxon work, but rather to consider the broader cultural meaning, within the larger sphere of Modernist culture, of its ambition to construct alternative modes of authority by extrapolating a different trajectory of poetic development within the course of English literary history. Similarly, Pound’s sustained engagement with Cavalcanti, and especially his numerous renderings of the Italian poet’s “Donna mi pregha” canzone, as well as the late, markedly eccentric treatments of Sophocles’ Women of Traduis and the recendy published collaborative version of Elektra await more contextual-ized evaluation in light of, on the one hand, his theories of sexuality and its relationship to poetry, particularly as these ideas inform the development of The Cantos, and on the other, his incarceration at St. Elizabeth’s for thirteen years after his treason indictment for his radio broadcasts during World War II.


Literary Production Aesthetic Judgment Literary Movement Expansive Domain Transparent Procedure 
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    Ezra Pound and Rudd Fleming, trans., Sophokles’ Elektra (New York: New Directions, 1990).Google Scholar
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    Seamus Heaney, “Introduction” to Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000), p. xxiv.Google Scholar
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    R. M. Liuzza, Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (New York: Broadview, 2000).Google Scholar
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    Frank Kermode, “The Geat of Geats,” The New York Review of Books Vol. 47, No. 12 (July 20, 2000): 20.Google Scholar
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    Nicholas Howe, “Scullionspeak,” The New Republic. Vol. 222 No. 9 (February 29, 2000): 36.Google Scholar

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© Steven G. Yao 2002

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  • Steven G. Yao

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