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ABC of Reading by Ezra Pound

ABC of Reading (original 1934; edition 1960)

by Ezra Pound

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7881311,673 (3.78)12
Title:ABC of Reading
Authors:Ezra Pound
Info:New Directions Publishing Corporation (1960), Paperback, 206 pages
Collections:Your library, Just read
Tags:books and reading

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ABC of Reading by Ezra Pound (1934)

  1. 00
    Aspects of the Novel by E. M. Forster (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Two literati writing about literature. I recommend reading them as much for style as for content

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A quite refreshing "healthy" dose of reality! ( )
  Philo_Sophos | Dec 12, 2017 |
I read, and continue to read, and become less and less convinced by literary criticism. I just seem to doubt the worth of it all.
I doubt if Literature is 'the NEWS that stay NEWS'. I wonder to what extent The Illiad, and all its themes of Glory, Homecoming and Honor, needs to remain NEWS in a society that does not share these themes as values (something that can be evidenced in the lack of common ground between the awful Brad Pit movie and the source material). That the piece has lasted this long is a testimony of how badly we care to leave the signposts of our history around us, and our attempts at reassembling it in a desperate search for a relevant and contemporary meaning is a testimony to our attachment to a barbaric past.
"Chaucer had a deeper knowledge of life than Shakespeare. Let the reader contradict that after reading both authors, if he chooses to do so."
I can think of little more absolutely and stunningly stupid as claiming that there is a solid unified whole that can be called life, or that a single author can somehow be more authoritative on it. One can, at best, be authoritative on extremely modest segments on life. But by whatever calculation, where I now sit is closer to 1616 than 1400, although soon both of these writers will be sufficiently removed from our experience as to be equally irrelevant.
"Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree." Not really. We, as readers, inscribe meaning into what we read. No book, no matter how great, is inherently charged with any significant meaning. Rather, the reader puts meaning into it where he finds it (and here a plug to the wonderful essay 'Shakespeare in the bush' is necessary.)

Literary Criticism is little more than a brazen attempt to justify one's own tastes. ( )
  M.Campanella | Dec 27, 2013 |
A passionate, rambling introduction to poetry. One easily imagines Pound as a manic tenured professor, standing on top of his desk, and haranguing the students to follow his lead, but remain independent and critical lovers of poetry.

His standards are maddening. One must learn several languages in order to begin. French, Italian, Latin, have a grasp of Chinese. One must read so many contemporaries. He also includes a massive reading list and some exercises at the end. (e.g. Let the pupil write a description of a tree. Edit the description so that it cannot be mistaken for any other tree.)

Although, of course, he advises students to read and think for themselves, and write for themselves. No critic worth his salt has not at least tried to write something on his own.

Treat this like you would a course from a brilliant, if not utterly mad professor. If you can stand him, you will learn a lot. If you hate his dogmatism, you can drop the thing on page 5 and save your time. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
STYLE AT WORK. Martin Amis is the only other writer whose criticism makes me laugh, and, at times, wince in awe.
  pessoanongrata | Mar 30, 2013 |
Mount Parnassus in Greek mythology is a mountain in central Greece where the Muses lived; it is known as the mythological home of music and poetry. The ABC of Reading is Ezra Pound's iconoclastic view of stages on the way to Parnassus -- to knowing the nature and meaning of literature. Pound was there at the beginning of the Modernist movement in literature. In fact one could argue that he invented it and he both discovered and encouraged fellow writers, T. S. Eliot is a prominent example, to persevere and "make it new". This spirit permeates this book and I believe it has not diminished over the decades. My beat up copy was obtained in Madison, Wisconsin at a used book store near the University. What an appropriate setting, for this book reads like an extension of the University expanding my education in time and through imagination. There are more ideas packed into just over two hundred pages in this little book than in many much larger tomes. The ideas are at one striking and sublime. Plus there are bon mots like this-- "Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree."(p 36) --in every chapter.
This classic retains "a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness" that makes it worth reading today; both for the challenge and for the insights into the nature of poetry and literature. ( )
1 vote jwhenderson | Aug 23, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ezra Poundprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lustig, AlvinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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