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Letters of Blood and other works in English

Göran Printz-Påhlson

The Words of the Tribe: Primitivism, Reductionism, and Materialism in Modern Poetics

Part Three. The Material Word: From Imagism to New Criticism to Intertextualism

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1If words were things, pigs undoubtedly would have wings.

2In the philosophical history of Western thought, materialism and idealism have been the two main attitudes towards things. The first one says, simpliciter, that things are the only entities that exist, the second one, perhaps surprisingly, maintains they do not exist at all. Both views have, traditionally, had some difficulties in coping with words.

3Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentinean poet and creator of parables, described a non-existent world in his early ficción ‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.’ The story describes with great accuracy a world that is not only fictional in the ordinary sense of being invented by an author, but is also imaginary on its own fictional level. It may indeed have been created by a secret society over the centuries. The knowledge of Tlön is fragmentary and derived from the eleventh volume of a mysterious encyclopaedia, but some facts emerge with remarkable clarity. ‘The nations of this planet are congenitally idealist,’ writes Borges (8). The languages of the southern hemisphere consist exclusively of verbs and have no nouns, while in the northern ‘the prime unit is not the verb but the monosyllabic adjective’ (ibid. 8–9). Borges continues:

The literature of this hemisphere […] abounds in ideal objects, which are convoked and dissolved in a moment, according to poetic needs. At times they are determined by mere simultaneity. There are objects composed of two terms, one of visual and another of auditory character: the color of the rising sun and the faraway cry of a bird. […] These second-degree objects can be combined with others; through the use of certain abbreviations, the process is practically infinite. There are famous poems made up of one enormous word. This word forms a poetic object created by the author. The fact that noone believes in the reality of nouns paradoxically causes their number to unending. (ibid. 9)

4This staunchly anti-reductionist Borgesian world takes a dim view of scientific enquiry:

Every mental state is irreducible: the mere fact of naming it—id est, of classifying it—implies a falsification. From which it can be deduced that there are no sciences on Tlön, not even reasoning. The paradoxical truth is that they do exist, and in almost uncountable number. (ibid. 10)

5The menacing ending of Borges’s fable, which intimates that this transparent fictional world will gradually become a substitute for the real world and take over its history, its languages, and its arts, points to the dangers of such uncontrollable idealism. But beyond the description of idealism in language, there is another subtext or anti-text here present that Borges surely has had in mind when creating the pale and haunting idealism of Tlön. That is the materialist philosophy professed by the academicians of Lagado, in the third voyage of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, where the reducibility of language to thing is taken for granted:

The other [project] was a scheme for entirely abolishing all words whatsoever; and this was urged as a great advantage in point of health as well as brevity. For it is plain that every word we speak is in some degree a diminution of our lungs by corrosion, and consequently contributes to the shortening of our lives. An expedient was therefore offered, that since words are only names for things, it would be more convenient for all men to carry about them such things as were necessary to express the particular business they are to discourse on. And this invention would certainly have taken place, to the great ease as well as health of the subject, if the women in conjunction with the vulgar and illiterate had not threatened to raise a rebellion, unless they might be allowed the liberty to speak with their tongues, after the manner of their forefathers; such constant irreconcilable enemies to science are the common people. However, many of the most learned and wise adhere to the new scheme of expressing themselves by things, which hath only this inconvenience attending it, that if a man’s business be very great, and of various kinds, he must be obliged in proportion to carry a greater bundle of things upon his back, unless he can afford one or two strong servants to attend him. I have often beheld two of those sages almost sinking under the weight of their packs, like peddlers among us; who when they met in the streets would lay down their loads, open their sacks and hold conversation for an hour together, then put up their implements, help each other to resume their burthens, and take their leave. (213)

6Both views—of course in their fictional presentation they are hardly devoid of satiric or facetious intention—reduce language to an absurd state. In the materialist version every word is an individual thing, and as such all abstraction or generalisation is impossible. In the idealist version, the intimate state of psychology makes every connection equivalent to every other connection: ‘In other words, they do not conceive that the spatial persists in time […] this monism or complete idealism invalidates all science’ (Borges 9).


7In order to avoid such absurd reductions of language as these, people have resorted to various strategies, most often historicist or organicist in their origins:

Is thinking impossible without arbitrary signs? And—how far is the word ‘arbitrary’ a misnomer? Are not words etc. parts and germinations of the Plant? And what is the law of their Growth?—In something of this order I would endeavour to destroy the old antithesis Words and Things, elevating, as it were, words into Things, and living Things too. (156)

8Thus Coleridge in an oft-quoted letter to Godwin, which serves as ingress to the important chapter on energeia in Gerald Bruns’s book Modern Poetry and the Idea of Language. Bruns, after quoting Coleridge, writes: ‘I came round to the term ‘energy’ by design, partly as a way of avoiding what may seem like an obvious point, that Coleridge’s theory of language is organic in character’ (44). The organicist mode of explanation of language is, of course, far from self-evident or self-explanatory.

9Ever since Aristotle, who invented a biological blueprint for the other sciences and arts, one has to contend with this model in two very different versions, depending on whether the model is taken from one or another of the two branches of biology, morphology, and taxonomy. Morphology is concerned with the interrelations and functions of the different parts of the individual animal or plant, taxonomy with the interrelations of genera and species in the order of animals and plants. It was not until the historicised evolutionary hypothesis of Darwin (and his forerunners) that a fully integrated system of biology could be achieved, where morphology would be linked as a gradual changing mechanism of morphologically determined organs in defining the emergence of new species.

10Organicist metaphors thus fall into two categories, each quite distinctive. One can have a model morphological model, as in the quotation from Coleridge above, where individual words are likened to the flowers and leaves of the plant as living and organically out-folding entities—a metaphor much favoured by the romantics. Alternately, one can see the various types of linguistic or literary activities as species of taxonomy or nomenclature, with sets of similar objects grouped together in such a way that classificatory or historical contiguities are preserved. This type of taxonomic organicist model has obviously been enormously strengthened by the success of Darwinian ideas in the 19th century. Aristotle himself, in his Poetics for instance, had a strong taxonomic bent to his organicism, and it is to him that we still owe the basic demarcations of the genres of literature, such a tragedy, comedy, and the like. This model is very much alive in our time, as can be seen from Northrop Frye’s strongly generic critical system, or in the critical practice of the Chicago Neo-Aristotelians.


11It may be true, as Donald Davie maintains, that Ezra Pound did not play a very important role in the formation of imagism and that, conversely, its theoretical importance for his own development has been exaggerated. Nevertheless, Pound’s imagism is still a very convenient point of departure for the discussion of the place of language in modernism.

12In ‘A Few Don’ts’ Pound offers us the classical definition of an image: ‘An image is that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time’ (95). The definition seems cautious to the extent of limited usefulness. In the book on Gaudier-Brzeska, he gives a different definition: ‘the image is the word beyond formulated language’ (88). This is more in keeping with the tradition of nominalist mysticism from the Middle Ages, which often seems to have played a decisive role in T.E. Hulme’s formulations of his imagistic theory.

13Pound’s insistence on the distinction between image and idea may contain the first hints in the direction of what Eliot later termed the dissociation of sensibility with its background in Rémy de Gourmont and French materialism. But even more important for understanding the problem are Pound’s remarks in ‘How to Read’ about the function of the critic and poet, in society and in his relation to language: ‘the individual cannot think and communicate his thought, the governor and legislator cannot act effectively or frame his laws, without words, and the solidity and validity of these words is in the care of the damned and despised literati’ (21).

14The image or vortex is important here, as it serves to restore the relations of language to reality. I would like to emphasise the role of medieval literature here, which Pound returned to in ‘How to Read’:

It is not only a question of rhetoric, of loose expression, but also of the loose use of individual words. What the Renaissance gained in direct examination of natural phenomena, it in part lost in losing the feel and desire for exact descriptive terms. I mean that the medieval mind had little but words to deal with, as it was more careful in its definitions and verbiage. (2)

15Here Ezra Pound links his version of the dissociation of sensibility with the advances of the natural sciences in the Renaissance, perhaps somewhat surprisingly in light of the scientism he displays in other contexts.

16To return to the definition of the image: when we read ‘an image is an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time’ what is noticeable is the addendum ‘an instant of time.’ Donald Davie has made, in his first book on Pound, Ezra Pound: Poet as Sculptor, an interesting string of suggestions about the relation between sequentiality and permanence in The Cantos and, using a distinction derived from the contemporary theories of Adrian Stokes about sculpture, made another distinction between the activities of the carving of stone and the moulding of plaster:

But the carving of stone and moulding of plaster (or of clay, so as later to make a bronze casting) are very different operations, and profoundly different because the artist’s way with his material represents in miniature his way of dealing with the whole material world. (154)

17It is true that Pound’s imagism is of a different character from the Bergsonian intuitionism of, for instance, T.E. Hulme. Following the sculptural metaphor through the later Cantos, Davie manages to make more sense of Pound’s aesthetic principles than any earlier critic; in seeing the poet’s quest as a quest to unravel the forma underneath the phenomenal or historical world, Davie reveals Pound as an extreme idealist (albeit of a rather special immanentist kind) rather than as an academician from Lagado, carrying round all his words and definitions in the form of substantial images that have to be multiplied ad infinitum. The understanding of Pound as a Lagadan poet had provoked an objection from Yvor Winters in The Function of Criticism:

Pound, early in his career, adopted the inversion derived from Locke by the associationists: since all ideas arise from sensory impressions, all ideas can be expressed in terms of sensory impressions. But of course they cannot be: when we attempt this method, what we get is sensory impressions alone, and we have no way of knowing whether we have had any ideas or not. (47)

18Whereas Locke’s question, as echoed by Swift, was whether it was possible to abstract from the world of sense-impressions at all, the question of the imagist poet is, in fact, the opposite: whether one can, at least in poetry, as putatively in primordial language, recreate sense experience in words.

19Davie goes on to say in his effective rebuttal of Winters: ‘for this state, of not knowing whether we have had ideas or not, may be precisely the state of mind that Pound aimed to produce—and for good reasons’ (218). As I see it, this is an argument from indeterminacy that has been very influential in apologies for modernism. As long as the images are there, creating epiphanies for the readers, we are not served by questions whether they convey ideas or not; the ruling idea can be calmly deduced: the intention to create a state of indecision in the reader’s mind as to whether ideas are being conveyed or not. This view has been constitutive for much postmodernist theory.

20There is not much need to pursue the background linguistic theory of what is loosely termed imagism any further: the special problems have been very adequately dealt with by Donald Davie in an earlier book, Articulate Energy, which contains a profound and sympathetic refutation of Ernest Fenollosa; and by Hugh Kenner, who gives the authoritative account of the historical idea context in a few chapters of The Pound Era. Instead, I want to pursue two issues connected with imagism: first, the sequential nature of poetry and second, the question of sculpture as the master metaphor.

21As Borges realised so clearly, the consequences of a boundless idealism would be a literature of infinite variety and nuance. As he said, ‘there are famous poems made up of one enormous word. This word forms a poetic object created by the author’ (9). As we can see, this is a description of the poem of imagism, unlimited by reality. But also in no need of sequentiality or time. It is simultaneous, plastic, and freed from logic and syntax. The poem becomes one enormous unique word, as Mallarmé might have wished. But this word-poem is, in its idealist framework, removed from its space-time and, in its totality only interpretable in terms of the poet’s complete experience. This experience also includes the making of the poem, which is clearly an event in space and time. As its elements are ordered only by accidents of simultaneity and contiguity, it has no beginning and no end and should ideally be circular in shape, like Finnegans Wake.

22Sculpture—rather than painting, which can easily be made sequential and serial, since it is two-dimensional—seems to offer a natural analogue to poems like these. But the question is, what kind of sculptural activity? In the idealist framework, it must be moulding rather than carving, since carving presupposes an empirical availability of the underlying material. Carving claims an immanentist version of idealism, in rebus rather than ante res.

23Such an extrapolation from Borges’s fiction may seem a futile exercise. It would no doubt be counter-intuitive for most people to try to maintain that any poem that is a poem of our world and not a Tlön-poem could be interpreted in such terms. Nonetheless, there are very considerable traces of such views in the doctrines of imagism and, perhaps, even more so in its postmodern successors like projectivism.


24We are now in a better position to understand some of the problems we have encountered before. When John Crowe Ransom, in ‘Poetry as Primitive Language,’ referred to the metaphorical properties of language (which he called imaginal or substantival), he did so in such a way as to make clear that he viewed the materiality of language as a separate and concomitant phenomenon:

Does your metaphorical word refer to the single property which makes it logically fit for the argument, or does it also evoke an image and refer to the independent substance? Homer was fond of the ‘wine-dark’ sea, and used the locution again and again; ostensibly he meant a shade of color, but incidentally his readers and singers were sure to receive a fleeting image of the substantial and very good thing named wine. (75)

25It is not to be denied that visual imagery of great vividness may accompany novel words or word collocations (which of course the floating formulae of Homeric poetry were not), or that in the Homeric example a thirsty rhapsodos might have used an epitheton ornans of this kind to refer to the substance itself as a fitting reward for his efforts—but surely in that case he would use some gesture or sign language to indicate his plea. As a theory of the metaphoric and figurative properties of language it is, to say the least, crude. Aristotle had a much more advanced idea of metaphor, when he said in the Poetics that it was the foremost of the tropes, as it indicates a true sense of similarity.

26A theory of mental images as a concomitant to figurative expressions obviously cannot explain the appropriateness of figurative expressions as a function of language: it cannot but emphasize the anomalous and perhaps extraneous nature of figurative language. As a literary theory it has been critically dealt with by Donald Davie in Articulate Energy and by Rosamond Tuve; its antecedents have been traced in short books by Frank Kermode and Nick Furbank. We can recognize it as a variant of the Academy of Lagado theory of language, where all sorts of objects are, if not carried around for conversation, at least conjured up, as so many jacks-in boxes, when ever the word appears. However, in spite of its crudeness and obvious explanatory weaknesses—or perhaps because of these drawbacks—it has been a very popular and pervasive theory.

27In his important concluding essay from The New Criticism, Ransom has given a much more worked-out version of his views, taking its starting point in Charles Morris’ recently published monograph on semiotics, from the Encyclopaedia of Unified Science. He calls it ‘Wanted: An Ontological Critic.’

28The ontological commitment of criticism is, according to Ransom (and it is a slightly odd use of the term) a commitment to finding out what is essential or constitutive for poetry, its poeticity, one might say. Ransom links it with two tendencies in language, one towards determinate meaning and one towards indeterminate meaning. They correspond roughly to his two categories of logical and primitive language, but here he is more eager to consider rhythmical or metrical constraints on discourse as the main reason for the poetical disfiguration (or figuration) of language. When semantic/logical and metric/phonetic constraints are perfectly matched or balanced, the result is great poetry. The idea is that these constraints force language into certain patterns recognizable as poetic patterns, but very little reasoning is offered to show exactly how this is done.

29It is understandable that the theories of language available to Ransom fell short of his ambitions. He was eager to resist the positivist social semiotics of Charles Morris and equally eager to dissociate himself from the psychologism of the early I.A. Richards. But even so, one is sometimes surprised at the quaintness of his arguments. He seems to believe that the reason one does not find mathematical formulae in poetic discourse is because the metric constraints somehow take liberties with logical values. It is, of course, perfectly possible to say: ‘two plus two equal four’ in both verse and prose, and Tom Lehrer has written a song called ‘New Maths,’ which may not be great poetry but certainly is verse and still contains quite complicated mathematical computations without invalidating their correctness. The reason why so few mathematical textbooks are written in verse is quite simply that the form is not needed for their purpose.

30There is a problem with the theory of language underlying New Criticism—and I would limit the term to the inner cenacle of Ransom, Tate, Penn Warren, Winters and Brooks, perhaps Wimsatt, but not Burke and Blackmur, and I would also exclude the transatlantic pedagogues Richards and Empson, whose ideas are of a completely different origin. The problem is not so much that the theory is inadequate to deal with poetry (no other theory seems to have been able to do much better) but that it is inadequate in dealing with its ‘counter spirit,’ ordinary language. In assimilating willy-nilly the standpoints of their adversaries, like Charles Morris or early Richards, the New Critics came up with a very confused view of ordinary discourse, which was seen by necessity to be both logical and referential. Murray Krieger was perhaps the first to point out this discrepancy in a very astute chapter of his book, where he makes the justified observation that there is no more than a contingent relationship between these two properties. A statement can be referential and still not be logical: as in ‘snow is white, because grass is green,’ and it can be logical without being referential: as in ‘all men are mortal, the present king of France is a man, the present king of France is mortal.’ As Krieger ingeniously remarks:

…if the logical problem is properly seen as separate from the semantic problem, then indeed the foundations of the prose-poetry distinction based on referentiality, upon which modern criticism is built, are seriously shaken. For then the term of prose discourse are seen also deriving their meanings from a controlling context, in this case a logical context. They are no longer free to point uninhibitedly any more than are the terms of poetic discourse which are contained by a unique, formal context. (147)

31This mistakenly exclusive view of contextualism, which is in fact the opposite of the imagist view of language as a repository of discreet units of experience, created problems with critical terminology that are still with us. But there are—and it may be easier to see this now than when Krieger wrote his book—further and wider implications of the New Critical ideology to be considered. The New Critics were apologists for poetry, no doubt, and they had to fight their battles on several fronts at once, against the historicism of the established scholars of literary studies, and against the scientism of their contemporaries in American social sciences, anthropology and linguistics. In this respect they were staunch anti-reductionists, eager to establish an independent domain for the study of poetry literature. I think this is the ambition that makes Ransom raise his rather peculiar claims for the ontology of the work of art. As several of them were practising poets, they had a strong and wholly beneficent interest in integrating the study of, and writing of, poetry in the academic curricula, which has had, after all, an unsuspected degree of success in American educational life.

32René Wellek has, in his essay ‘Poet, Critic, Poet-Critic,’ levelled serious charges against both Ransom and Tate for their anti-intellectualist positions regarding criticism, which are no doubt well deserved, but seem to stem from a curiously aggressive stance on Wellek’s part as regarding poets in relation to their métier. The eclectic and confused nature of Ransom’s theoretical position is pointed out and summarized with Wellek’s customary superb skill, and Tate’s occasional priestly posturing receives some well-earned censure. But the main charge is that the poet-critic, having a vested interest in the poetry business, tends to be unfair to his colleagues. This presupposes that the scholar-critic is not equally likely to be influenced in his judgements by extraneous or ideological concerns, which seems optimistic, if not naive.

33In spite of their partisan and sometimes passionate nature, the ideas of the New Critics were in the long run successful, but mostly only insofar as they were taken up and institutionalized by a second generation of scholars/critics/philosophers. Central concepts would be defended by Susanne Langer, by Austin Warren, or by René Wellek. But this process certainly changed some of the fundamental ideas that had been the cornerstone of the original New Critical outlook. In exchange for the rather unintended Hegelianism of Ransom or the scholastic bricolage of Tate, you get an austere Kantian idealism with some roots in Cassirer and Croce.

34There is yet another aspect of the original New Critics which has been, by and large, misunderstood. It is their commitment to conservative ideologies. In the case of Tate, Ransom, and Penn Warren, a commitment to Southern Agrarianism. This is clearly an unremittingly and most unashamedly primitivist ideology. But in the dualist conception of the world of discourse they were paying tribute to, it pertained only to their realm of poetry, not to their criticism. Their theory of language was an organicist one, modelling itself (mainly in morphological analogues, not in generic ones as in the case of the Neo-Aristotelians or Northrop Frye) on the growth of the individual organism. Ransom, in his essay ‘The Concrete Universal: Observations on the Understanding of Poetry’ is also here most open and articulate:

Suppose we say that the poem is an organism. Then it has a physiology. We will figure its organs, and to me it seems satisfactory if we say they are three: the head, the heart, the feet. In this organism the organs work all at the same time, but the peculiarity of the joint production is that it still consists of the several products of the organs working individually. (560)

35This is a very uncomfortable model for primitivist modes of thought and was no doubt the reason for some of the wilder flights of fancy and changes of direction in Ransom’s critical thinking. His ideal for a critical language was not a poetic language, the language of texture or of the mixed world, where images vie with ideas—but what he called logic, a reasoned discourse which takes its model not as we might expect from the abstract languages of logic and mathematics, but from the pragmatic and mundane discourse of technical science, business, law and advertising:

An advanced language is one in which the standard discourse is perfect or nearly perfect conceptually, and the imaginal or substantival range of meaning has all but disappeared. At this stage language conquers its involuntary ambiguity. It becomes fit for big business, technical science and all other forms of thinking. (‘Poetry as Primitive Language’ 76)

36In spite of his early agrarian opposition to big business, it is noticeable how much Ransom’s critical language is derived from the world of business and advertising. Suffice it here to cite a couple of stray titles of essays: ‘Criticism Inc.,’ and ‘Wanted: An Ontological Critic.’ I consider ‘Criticism as Pure Speculation ‘an equivocal case. This brisk matter-of-fact tone, which to some lesser extent influenced also the other New Critics such as Winters and Blackmur—and which perhaps had something to do with Eliot’s fastidiousness and offhand neatness of distinction in his criticism—is very typical of its period. It is in any case altogether different from Pound’s belligerent but also pedagogically benevolent colloquialism.

37The rhetoric of critical language is in itself a critical area worth studying, but few people, with the honourable exception of Kenneth Burke, have taken the trouble. The New Criticism became, and on the whole quite quickly and efficiently, a part of the scholarly establishment it had started out opposing, and some of the strategies used for this purpose were at variance with basic tenets of its philosophy. When it had spent its energy as an active force and was ready to depart from the scene of the American critical debate, it was no longer the jargon of the boardroom or the advertising agency that offered itself for emulation, but the language of the computer and the electronic engineering sciences. The dreams of the Material Word were put paid to in the Electronic Village. There are cases when the Marxian doctrine—that an era’s ruling classes produce its ruling ideas—takes on a special significance.


38The principles of intertextualism were very clearly formed by Eliot in the first section of his essay from 1919, ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent,’ and very little has been added to these principles in subsequent discussion. Indeed, the principles have gained the acceptance that they deserve (that is: they are almost universally recognized). It is very difficult to argue against the view that all texts, when interpreted by a community of readers and scholars interact and establish relations, in particular as one is employed in a métier (as Eliot terms it) which has its main objective in comparing texts—it is little like arguing against the multiplication tables or Newton’s law of gravity. The question of language enters into the argument on this level only as a presupposition, and a necessary one, in that it is the public nature of language that makes intertextualism an inescapable condition. Had all poems in some Tlön-like world been written in private and unique languages, one might have been able to find arguments for a wholly individual interpretation of artistic texts.

39There are of course always questions of demarcation and evaluation that, in this case, characteristically involve the business of canon-formation. Fortunately, neither this thorny problem, nor the problem of the attitude of the individual author is part of our present topic. Whether you approach the question of intertextualism from the point of view of an idealist or a materialist conception of language is inessential, as long as you remember the fundamentally contextual nature of language. Structurally, if not substantially, intertextualism—even in its infancy—is dependent on a theory of language that is relational in a wide sense, that is, that allows for a wider net of relations outside the grammatical and syntactical categories. It is doubtful that either Eliot or Ransom, had read Marx and Engels’ momentous remarks on language in The German Ideology, which had not been printed when Eliot’s essay appeared, and which hardly would have figured on Ransom’s reading list in German philosophy. Still, the general drift of the Marxian arguments would have been quite familiar to both Eliot and Ransom.

40We have so far been using the term ‘materialism’ in a general way without taking into consideration the very specialized sense that the term has acquired in a context representing a very important body of thought in this world. I am thinking of the conjunctions ‘historical materialism’ and ‘dialectical materialism’ as used in Marxian literature for almost a century and a half. Even in its earliest form, the language theory of historical materialism, as expressed in The German Ideology, is strongly relational, and neatly avoids the old dichotomy of material or ideal language by identifying language with consciousness, with a practical intercourse of men reaching back to their tribal existence. The similarity to the all-embracing claims of intertextualism is striking and more than accidental: if there is a true begetter of these, it is to found in the claims for a world literature without limits, dreamed of by Marx and Engels in their early years.

41Let me end, as in my first lecture, with two quotations about language, one from the beginning and the other one from near the end of that voluminous, loose, and baggy monster of a book, The German Ideology. The first:

Language is as old as consciousness, language is practical consciousness that exist also for other men, and for that reason alone it really exists for me personally as well; language, like consciousness, only rises from the need, the necessity, of intercourse with other men. (51)

42And the second, striking a more critical note in its attack on the philosophers’ abstractions of language from our normal language:

The philosophers would only have to dissolve their language into the ordinary language, from which it is abstracted, to recognize it as the distorted language of the actual world, and to realize that neither thoughts nor language in themselves form a realm of their own, that they are only manifestations of actual life. (118)

43My next essay will concern itself with the question of how these abstractions function in models of actual languages, in poems and poetics, in prose and thesciences, and also with how these models re-enact the ‘intercourse with other men’ in the real world.


Works Cited

Borges, Jorge Luis. ‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.’ Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings. New York: New Directions, 2007: 3–18.

Bruns, Gerald. Modern Poetry and the Idea of Language. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974.

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Unpublished Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 1. Ed. by Earl Leslie Griggs. London: Constable, 1932.

Davie, Donald. Ezra Pound: The Poet as Sculptor. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965.

Krieger, Murray. The New Apologists for Poetry. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1956.

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The German Ideology: Part One with Selections from Parts Two and Three. New York: International Publishers, 1970.

Pound, Ezra. ‘A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste.’ Modernism: An Anthology. Ed. by Lawrence S. Rainey. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2005: 95.

—. Gaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir. New York: New Directions, 1970.

—. ‘How to Read.’ The Literary Essays of Ezra Pound. New York: New Directions, 1968: 15–40.

Ransom, John Crowe. ‘The Concrete Universal: Observations on the Understanding of Poetry.’ The Kenyon Review. Vol. 16 (1954): 554–64.

—. ‘Poetry as Primitive Language.’ Speaking of Writing: Selected Hopgood Lectures. Ed. by Nicholas Delbanco. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990.

Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s Travels and Other Writings. New York: Bantam, 1984.

Winters, Yvor. The Function of Criticism. Denver: Swallow, 1957.


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