Full-text resources of CEJSH and other databases are now available in the new Library of Science.
Visit https://bibliotekanauki.pl


2018 | 27/1 | 97-110

Article title

Genius, Appropriation and Transnational Collaboration in Ezra Pound’s Cathay



Title variants

Languages of publication


When we discuss the cross-cultural relationships of Euro-American modernists we often fall between the poles of either celebrating the ‘coming together of traditions’ or suspiciously decrying the power play involved. A case in point is the divergent critical understanding most often posited of Ezra Pound’s relationship to the materials he produced from Ernest Fenollosa’s notes – notably Classical Chinese poetry in the form of Cathay (1915). The first position is Hugh Kenner’s who holds that its meaning, its primary function, was as an anti-WWI volume, rather than as any representation of Chinese poetry or an extension of Imagism (1971, 202–204). In seeming opposition to this vision of an ideal aesthetic come at by the application of genius, we have those who highlight the source material of Fenollosa’s notes to discuss various modes of Pound as translator. Interestingly, these critics, who resist the Kennerian celebration of Poundian genius and insist that Pound is engaged here in an act of translation, “essentially [...] appropriative” (Xie 232), or otherwise, also reinforce a reading whereby “the precise nature of the translator’s authorship remains unformulated, and so the notion of authorial originality continues” (Venuti 6). This is the issue I wish to address when we study the disparities between Fenollosa’s notes and the Cathay poems, i.e. Pound’s own choices with regard to those poems’ content, as a key chapter in the study of transnational collaboration.


  • American University of Kuwait


  • Badenhausen, Richard. 2004. T. S. Eliot and The Art of Collaboration. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Beckwith, Christopher. 2009. Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Berman, Jessica. 2011. Modernist Commitments: Ethics, Politics, and Transnational Modernism. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Chisolm, Lawrence W. 1963. Fenollosa: The Far East and American Culture. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Chow, Rey. 2002. The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Copp, Michael. 2001. Cambridge Poets of the Great War: An Anthology. Danvers: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
  • Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. 2010. The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Egan, Charles. 1993. “A Critical Study of the Origins of Chüeh-chü Poetry.” Asia Major (Third Series) 6. 1: 83–125.
  • Eksteins, Modris. 1989. The Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age. Boston: Houghton Miffl in.
  • Froula, Christine. 1983. A Guide to Ezra Pound’s Selected Poems. New York: New Directions.
  • Fussell, Paul. 1975. The Great War and Modern Memory. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Gaudier-Brzeska, Henri. 1970 [1916]. A Memoir. New York: New Directions.
  • Hayot, Eric. 2004. Chinese Dreams: Pound, Brecht, Tel Quel. University of Michigan Press.
  • -----. 2007. “Chinese Bodies, Chinese Futures.” Representations 99: 99–129.
  • Idema, Wilt and Haft, Lloyd. 1997. A Guide to Chinese Literature. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Jaszi, Peter. 1994. “On the Author Eff ect: Contemporary Copyright and Collective Creativity.” The Construction of Authorship: Textual Appropriation in Law and Literature. Ed. Martha Woodmansee and Peter Jaszi. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Kenner, Hugh. 1967. “The Invention of China.” Spectrum 9. 1: 21–52.
  • -----. 1971. The Pound Era. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Kern, Robert. 1996. Orientalism, Modernism, and the American Poem. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Klapheck, Eva-Maria. 2004. T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound: Examining the basis of their literary friendship. Munich: GRIN Verlag.
  • Longenbach, James. 1988. Stone Cottage: Pound, Yeats & Modernism. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Moody, Anthony Davis. 2009. Ezra Pound: Poet. Volume I: The Young Genius 1885–1920. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
  • North, Michael. 1991. The Political Aesthetic of Yeats, Eliot and Pound. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Pound, Ezra. 1915. Cathay. London: Elkin Mathews.
  • -----. 1971 [1928] Selected Poems of Ezra Pound. London: Faber and Faber.
  • -----. 1985 [1954] Literary Essays of Ezra Pound. Ed. T. S. Eliot. London: Faber & Faber.
  • Qian, Zhaoming. 1995. Orientalism and Modernism: The Legacy of China in Pound and Williams. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • -----. 2003. The Modernist Response to Chinese Art: Pound, Moore, Stevens. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.
  • Scofi eld, Martin. 1988. T. S. Eliot: The Poems. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Sieburth, Richard. 2010. “Introduction.” Ezra Pound New Selected Poems and Translations. New York: New Directions.
  • Venuti, Lawrence. 1995. The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation. London: Routledge.
  • Watson, Burton. 1971. Chinese Lyricism: Shih Poetry from the Second to the Twelfth Century. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Xie, Ming. 1999. Ezra Pound and The Appropriation of Chinese Poetry: Cathay, Translation, and Imagism. New York: Routledge.
  • Yao, Steven G. 2002. Translation and the Languages of Modernism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Yip, Wai-lim. 1969. Ezra Pound’s ‘Cathay.’ Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • -----. 1993. Diff usion of Distances: Dialogues Between Chinese and Western Poetics. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Yu, Timothy. 2009. Race and the Avant-Garde: Experimental and Asian American Poetry Since 1965. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.

Document Type

Publication order reference


YADDA identifier

JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.