How to Write Well and Influence People: Pound and Imagisme



In discussing the discontinuity between our aesthetic and our political criteria, and how Pound takes us to a critical point in that disjuncture, I centred my comments somewhat polemically on the notion of aesthetic hierarchy. An important foundation of any such hierarchical conception of aesthetics is the assumption of what is necessary to ‘good writing’.


Natural Object Literary History Good Writing Literary Movement Literary Politics 
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  1. 1.
    The debate between Basil Bernstein and William Labov over questions of class and linguistic codes — see Labov’s the Logic of Nonstandard English’ (1969), in Tinker, Tailor…: The Myth of Cultural Deprivation, ed. Nell Keddie (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973) pp. 21–66 — and the work of the University of London’s Institute of Education, and the Schools’ Council in England (in particular the contributions of educationalists such as James Britton and Harold Rosen) have, more recently, challenged a monostylistic model of language use in schools, whilst the Open University Course Team (‘Society, Education, and the State’) led by Roger Dale has studied the power functions of the educational system as a whole. But it would, I think, be an exaggeration to claim that they have liberated the educational system in general or the teaching of English in particular from its function of transmitting a particular set of criteria — as it would equally well be a simplification to say that they have provided an entirely unproblematic and operational alternative. In any case, the counter-attack of the ‘core curriculum’, ‘vocational’ and functional approaches tends to return us to a model of pragmatic efficiency based on a uniform communication model. In sum, it is important to note that there is a serious political question at play in debates over ‘standards of English’ in schools and the models of language implicit in the various positions.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    This orthodoxy is fairly common in general literary histories, and is argued most clearly and specifically in Samuel Hynes’s Introduction to his edition of Further Speculations of T. E. Hulme (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Library, 1955).Google Scholar
  3. Alun R. Jones, ‘Imagism: A Unity of Gesture’, American Poetry (London: Arnold, 1967).Google Scholar
  4. Peter Jones’s Introduction to Imagist Poetry (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1962).Google Scholar
  5. The original suggestion came from F. S. Flint, ‘History of Imagism’, Egoist, II.5 (1 May 1915) 70–1.Google Scholar
  6. The most reliable demystifications of Hulme’s influence appear in the texts by Kenner already cited, plus Herbert N. Schneidau, Ezra Pound: The Image and the Real (Baton Rouge: University of Louisiana Press, 1969).Google Scholar
  7. Stanley K. Coffman, Imagism (New York: Octagon, 1972).Google Scholar
  8. Christophe de Nagy, Ezra Pound’s Poetics and Literary Tradition (Bern: Franke Verlag, 1966).Google Scholar
  9. Wallace Martin, ‘The New Age’ under Orage (Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 1967).Google Scholar
  10. 6.
    F. S. Flint, ‘Verse Chronicle’, Criterion, XI.45 (July 1932) 686.Google Scholar
  11. 34.
    William Carlos Williams, The Young Housewife’, in Collected Earlier Poems of William Carlos Williams (New York: New Directions, 1938) p. 136.Google Scholar
  12. 36.
    Jonathan Culler, Structuralist Poetics (London: Fontana, 1974) pp. 180–1.Google Scholar
  13. 37.
    Ernst Cassirer, Language and Myth, tr. Susanne Langer (1946; New York: Dover, 1953) pp. 86–8.Google Scholar
  14. 39.
    Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Strange Mind (1962; London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1966) p. 106.Google Scholar
  15. 43.
    F. S. Flint, ‘Verse Chronicle’, Criterion, xi.45 (July 1932) 686–7. His examination of French verse appeared as ‘A Review of Contemporary French Poetry’ in a special number of Poetry Review, 1.8 (Aug 1912).Google Scholar
  16. 48.
    Richard Aldington, Life for Life’s Sake (New York: Viking, 1941) p. 135.Google Scholar
  17. 49.
    For the relations between Pound, H. D. and Aldington, see Vincent Quinn, Hilda Doolittle (H. D.) (New Haven, Conn.: College and University Press, 1967); Kenner’s chapter on ‘Imagism’ in The Pound Era;.Google Scholar
  18. Brigit Patmore, My Friends when Young (London: Heinemann, 1968).Google Scholar
  19. 57.
    Patricia Hutchins, Ezra Pound’s Kensington (London: Faber & Faber, 1965) p. 15.Google Scholar
  20. 58.
    The draft article and corrections were published as ‘Some Imagism Documents’, ed. Christopher Middelton, in the Review, 15 (Apr 1965) 30–51.Google Scholar
  21. 60.
    The terms are Harriet Monroe’s, from her introductory note in Poetry, i.6 (Mar 1913).Google Scholar
  22. 64.
    Letter from Edward Marsh to Rupert Brooke, 22 June 1913, quoted in Noel Stock, The Life of Ezra Pound (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970) p. 139. The point is that this does exist as a group, but it is significant that Marsh does not identify it as a group of the ‘School of Images’ or ‘Imagistes’.Google Scholar
  23. 73.
    Wyndham Lewis, Introduction to the catalogue for the Wyndham Lewis and Vorticism exhibition at the Tate Gallery, London, July–Aug 1956.Google Scholar

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© Martin A. Kayman 1986

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