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Tradition, Translation, TraumaThe Classic and the Modern$
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Jan Parker and Timothy Mathews

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199554591

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199554591.001.0001

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Time, Free Verse, and the Gods of Modernism

Time, Free Verse, and the Gods of Modernism

(p.175) 9 Time, Free Verse, and the Gods of Modernism
Tradition, Translation, Trauma

Ian Patterson

Oxford University Press

The use of translation, mythology, quotation, allusion, and other forms of encounter with earlier texts or other cultures are a familiar feature of Modernist writing, and they have been widely recognized as complicating the relations between texts and time, temporality and form, progress and reaction. This chapter examines the work of three writers — Ezra Pound, Mary Butts, and T. S. Eliot — in each of whom the fantasy of a destructively self-absorbed modern culture stimulated a conservative literary impulse, which nevertheless in each case took a radical literary form. Counter to that self-absorption they created something deliberately indigestible against which the organism of a culture could redefine itself in discomfort. In their work a version of the historical past haunts or constitutes or defines a dense and inadequate modernity through synchronic (poetic) re-presentation (Pound), by the pathos of lost moral and existential coherence (Eliot), and by the continuing but underestimated presence of powerful forces (Mary Butts).

Keywords:   poems, poetry, translation, Ezra Pound, Mary Butts, T. S. Eliot, past, modern culture, self-absorption

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