This is a critical and historical interpretation of ‘Oriental’ influences on American modernist poetry. Kern equates Fenollosa and Pound’s ‘discovery’ of Chinese writing with the American pursuit of a natural language for poetry, what Emerson had termed the ‘language of nature’. This language of nature is here shown to be a mythic conception continuous with the Renaissance idea of the language of Adam - a language lacking any difference between what it is and what it means. Through analysing and contextualising the nineteenth-century works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Ernest Fenollosa and the twentieth-century creations of Ezra Pound and Gary Snyder, Kern sheds light on the three contemporary nexuses of his search: the cultural study of Orientalism and the West, the evolution of Indo-European linguistic theory, and the intellectual tradition of American modernist poetry.
Orientalism, Modernism, and the American Poem
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