Dr. Nick Selby is Lecturer in the Department of English Literature and Director of the Andrew Hook Centre for American Studies at the University in Glasgow. He has written widely on American literature and poetry. His book, Dazzling Geographies: American Poetics in Ezra Pound, Gary Snyder and Jorie Graham, is forthcoming.
2005 0-7734-6055-1 This book examines how the modernist poetics exemplified in Ezra Pound’s epic poem The Cantos are unavoidably bound-in with the ideological forces underpinning his advocacy of fascism. By highlighting Pound’s reliance upon a poetics of loss, the book’s close-readings of The Cantos trace his poetic development from modernism to fascism. It starts with Pound’s assertion – from the end of The Cantos – ‘That I lost my center / fighting the world.’ To counter such a modernist sense of lost culture and ruined history, however, The Cantos relies, paradoxically, on modernist strategies of poetic fragmentation and dissociation. Because Pound’s poem thus confirms the very loss it seeks to eradicate, the book argues that his developing poetic language throughout the poem tends increasingly towards fascism. In following this development, the book provides extended analyses of sections of the poem often overlooked by critics – The China Cantos and The Adams Cantos – as well as new and challenging readings of sections of the poem, such as the The Malatesta Cantos and The Pisan Cantos – that are more familiar to readers of Pound. Overall, it argues that Pound’s reactionary urge to redefine a lost culture, coupled with his sense of the textual annihilation of a validating poetic center, is the cultural ground upon which his ideal of the fascist republic rests.