Review of The Cambridge Companion to Ezra Pound by Ira B. Nadel

The Cambridge Companion to Ezra Pound by Ira B. Nadel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This short book does provide an introduction to Pound and his work. And Nadel is a reputable scholar of obvious erudition. Nonetheless, the text feels like it has been inexpertly condensed from a larger, more comprehensive work. There are numerous repetitions and, more irksome, many gaps, not just in the whole Pound story but in lines of reasoning the text only explores partially. In the key ares of parataxis and meter, Nadel generalizes about Pound’s increasing use of the former and his moves away from the traditional in the latter. But examples are few and analysis of the examples absent. So his assertions that Pound has “made the line the new unit of meter” come off as non sequiturs. This may be caused by the formal restraints of the Cambridge series which has a very strict bible. Or it could be an attitudinal problem with higher academics. Marjorie Perloff, another champion of Pound, similarly refuses to do close reading and states explicitly in some of her essays that such a thing is trivial and beneath her focus on grand conclusions. Such practices leave many readers unconvinced by the arguments, doing a disservice to Pound’s achievement.



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