Archive for December, 2008


December 27, 2008

Adjectives & Pound by Jaffe

December 27, 2008

Adjectives and the Work of Modernism in an Age of Celebrity
Aaron Jaffe

The anecdote about how Ezra Pound taught the young Ernest Hemingway to guard against over-populating his work with adjectives is well-known. Hemingway refers to the lesson in A Moveable Feast: In the early 1920s, Pound

was the man I liked and trusted the most as a critic . . ., the man who believed in the mot juste-the one and only correct word to use-the man who taught me to distrust adjectives as I would later learn to distrust certain people in certain situations. 1

Adjectives are cads, second-, even third-raters in the pecking order of syntax, crowding verbs, becoming dependents on nouns to which they add color, a characteristic, an attribute perhaps, but little else. From the beginning, Pound’s critical prose is preoccupied with this brand of grammatical alarmism. One must keep a close eye on the proliferation of words, especially adjectives. In The Spirit of Romance (1910), for example, he writes, “the true poet is most easily distinguished from the false, when he trusts himself to the simplest expression, and when he writes without adjectives.” 2 Without claiming that poets can abandon them altogether, Pound treats over-used adjectives as uncontrolled poetic contagion, deteriorating the distinctions that separate true from false poets.

In later work, Pound counts the imprecise use of adjectives among the many deleterious signs of “bad economics”-“with usura the line grows thick/with usura is no clear demarcation,” et cetera-recommending the Chinese ideogram as a more exact alternative. 3 For Pound, the problem with adjectives stems from their liquidity and their oversupply. A red dawn may be “rosy-fingered” for Chapman’s Homer, cloaked “in russet mantle” for Shakespeare, but, for Milton or Swinburne, the epithets are on loan, “an advance [which is] too often merely a high-sounding word and not a swift symbol of vanished beauty.” 4 According to Pound, the ideogram for red is more precise than any English epithet, because its reference has been set to a fixed standard: it joins an abstraction to “the real shape of things,” not metaphor, but “abbreviated pictures of ROSE-CHERRY-IRON RUST-FLAMINGO.” An abstraction should consist of “something [End Page 1] everyone KNOWS,” something specific to a national culture. “If ideogram had developed in England,” he writes, “the writers would possibly have substituted the front side of a robin, or something less exotic than a flamingo.” 5 In the Guide to Kulchur (1938), the decisive statement of Pound’s cultural project for better and worse, he argues that an entire national culture is proven-in the senses of demonstrated and secured-by the worth of its most minuscule details, in its adjectives, so to speak. 6

Given the diagnosis, one wonders what Pound made of the frequent transformation of his own name into the adjective Poundian. In 1920, for example, in a review of “Homage to Sextus Propertius,” a critic writes:

More and more as we read we become aware of the Poundian personality: that queer composite of harsh levity, spite, cocksureness, innuendo, pedantry, archaism, sensuality, real if sometime perverse and unfortunate research and honest love of literature. 7

By adding the adjective suffix -ian, the reviewer, in effect, uses Pound to diminish Pound’s own work, offering the word as a shorthand for the bundle of cutting associations elaborated in the remainder of the sentence. With somewhat invidious effect, the adjective Poundian insinuates that Pound’s work suffers because it derives from him. Here, calling Pound’s work Poundian indicates that it does not stand on its own, that it must instead be buttressed with the objectionable presence of Pound’s personality.

Even when not reflected back on the author named, the authorial adjective accommodates the purposes of critical excoriation quite well. As in:

[The writer] has adopted his subject’s deliberately simple declarative style. The opening and closing of the book are archly Hemingwayesque; some parts of the 640 pages that come between are simply Hemingwayese. 8


[The writer’s] examination of Milton’s verse keeps turning into Sitwellian clap-trap. 9


In this new short book he is more a Poundian than a critic. 10

In all three examples, the authorial adjectives intimate that the writer under scrutiny is derivative. While Hemingwayesque may be preferable to Hemingwayese in the first example, the application, by pointing out Hemingway’s susceptibility to stylistic parody, degrades both parties compared. The second example uses the word Sitwellian less to elucidate the meaning of clap-trap than to compound its affront. Begging the question of whether or not the Sitwells’ literary efforts are, in fact, a particular variety of clap-trap, the statement engages one critical object [End Page 2] (an examination of Milton’s verse) by trafficking in another critical judgment surreptitiously (the Sitwells are prone to claptrap-ism). The third example enacts this dynamic of covert criticism as well. Poundian, in this case a substantive, an admirer or disciple of Ezra Pound, weighs both subject and object of the comparison, Pound’s would-be critic and Pound himself, syllogistically:

This would-be critic is a Poundian not a critic.
A Poundian is a kind of failed critic.
Ergo, Pound himself (that is, Pound in some aspect of his notoriously telegraphic and bombastic critical idiom) is a kind of failed critic.

In this fashion, authorial adjectives are nothing if not critically functional, even if not always employed for purposes of devaluation.

Because they work via implied comparisons, comparisons which, at least potentially, draw upon the entire reference of an author’s name (and which yield an inventory of slippery, semi-distinct notions about author and text), authorial adjectives tend to handle authors as if they were critical balances and counterbalances. When a book reviewer writes,

in the Beckett age, he [Shakespeare] can be the first to stare boldly into the meaningless abyss which is our universe,

the sentence works like a weighing machine of names-and imprimaturs. 11 Its basis-that a reader recognize a particular idea for carrying Beckett’s imprimatur-in fact, does the critical work it purports to take for granted; it posits characteristics of Beckett’s writings. Joined to a specific characteristic, the author’s name becomes a means of universalizing a continuous, ontological restatement of the author function. The adjectival Beckett (or Beckettian) promises to condense and digest the entire work of reading Beckett in a way that can pull Shakespeare out of history, inviting the past to scrutinize the present.

Although coining authorial adjectives is notoriously easy, applicable in theory to any author, only a limited number of instances have attracted notice in The Oxford English Dictionary. Most of these are the obvious choices, the ones that seem most invested with cultural currency, though some inclusions and omissions seem capricious. One finds in the second edition, among others, Ibsenian and Ibsenite, Jamesian, Shavian, Wellsian, Galsworthian, Yeatsian, Firbankian, Sitwellian, Woolfian, Poundian, Lawrentian, Joycean, Waughian, Huxleyan, Hemingwayan, Leavisian, Audenesque, Orwellian; from outside the English-speaking world, Proustian, Kafkaesque, Flaubertian; prior to the twentieth century, Wildean, Paterian, Ruskinian, Brontëan, Dickensian, Arnoldian, Brontëan, Wordsworthian, Byronic, Shelleyan, Blakean, Burnsian, Miltonic, Johnsonian, Shakespearean, Spenserian, Chaucerian, Petrarchan, Pindaric, Sapphic, Homeric. As this partial catalogue reflects, the form was not applied to modernists exclusively. Nor was it applied by modernists [End Page 3] exclusively. Yet, taken together, these entries comprise a makeshift register, an inventory of authorial names charged with the utmost degree of connotative aura, a situation homologous with a conception of literary value articulated in much of modernist literary criticism. 12

The entries for these words are remarkably uniform. The definitions themselves do not convey differences between authors, nor do they convey the varied shades of critical utility documented in the citations. The following hypothetical entry, redressing one of the more acute oversights, incorporates the typical features of an entry:


Eliotic, eliotic pronunciation [f. the name Eliot (see below) + -ic.] Of, pertaining to, or characteristic of the American (later naturalized British) writer and poet T.S. (Thomas Stearns) Eliot (1888-1965), his work, or the human condition which it evokes; like, or of the style of, Eliot; resembling or influenced by the style of Eliot.

Like all adjectives, the adjective Eliotic denotes a quality of a noun, a named thing. Specifically, the quality differentiating the noun is T.S. Eliot. Yet, such definitions do not help those untutored in the oeuvre of T.S. Eliot to understand the phrase Eliotic modernism. Like the entries for authorial adjectives in the OED, the definition of Eliotic verges on tautology. Only rarely-in the case of Orwellian, for example-do entries specify the qualities being conveyed with detail or reference to particular works. Entries such as these do not explain, for example, what sort of mannerisms are Poundian mannerisms, what flavors are Joycean flavors, what intrigues are Firbankian intrigues, what burble is Miltonic burble and so on. Like Pound’s ideal literary language-where direct experience of flamingos helps one understand “red”-to understand fully the word Runyonesque one must have direct experience of Damon Runyon’s slang and to understand fully the phrase Eliotic modernism, direct experience of The Waste Land. Otherwise, the premise of authorial adjectives works much like Pound conceived the ideogram, by fixing an abstraction to a notional concretion. Although the concretion is alleged to exist beyond discourse, paradoxically, only repeated encounters with discourse can bear this out. Only a reader who has expertise with the alleged concretion, a reader who has read the author in question, can discern what characteristics, qualities, or mannerisms the adjective signifies in a given context, whether Poundian in a given context means polymath literary borrowings; crackpot economic and linguistic theories; idiosyncratic translations; Italian fascism; telegraphic prose; impatient stylistic experiment; a den of literary protégés; epistles to American senators; zealous phallus worship; a penchant for Provençal songs, Cavalcanti, Gavin Douglas, Chinese ideograms, abbreviated modal verbs, or maple syrup; or an aversion to Jews, Milton, Roosevelt, Amy Lowell, or certain kinds of adjective usage. [End Page 4]

From a Poundian point-of-view, then, Authorial adjectives are the right kind of modifier, but to say this only scratches the surface of a deeper congeniality with interwar thinking about the value of authors. More broadly construed, the uses and abuses of authorial adjectives, however ironically, represent a distilled restatement of a logic prevalent in period essays, occasional and practical criticism. In the critical wings of modernism, as in the discourse of authorial adjectives, 1.) authors’ names are compared and weighed, until 2.) they come to comprise makeshift registers, in which value is adjudicated relationally, that is, 3.) they are couched in a mystified entreaty to the things in themselves, to the “originals.” In concert, these three features regulate a literary ideology based on exhaustively maintained scarcity. Ironically, writers often so censorious about the de-creating consequences of capitalist valuation were actively involved in the promotion of an economy that was itself based upon a kind of fetishized commodity, the scarce supply of literary “originals.” In this economy, a sparse selection of names of the past becomes an instrument for conferring value on selected works-of-art in the present; and the need “to avoid saying what has already been said as well as it can,” as Eliot puts it in After Strange Gods, becomes a relentless injunction with seemingly unlimited applications . . . down to the adjectives. 13

Eliot and Pound did not so much invent this ideology as they were among its most influential ideologues, its most orthodox “economists,” in the company of I.A. Richards, F.R. Leavis, Q.D. Leavis and the Scrutiny writers. Their criticism represents a narrow, albeit highly influential, intervention in a much broader economy of names, which spans the range of contemporary critical responses to modernist authors. These include the critical work of journalists and editors like Edmund Wilson, Gilbert Seldes, Malcolm Cowley, J. Middleton Murray, R.A. Scott-James; literary notables and belletrists, like Richard Aldington, Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, Robert Graves, and Laura Riding; as well as a host of other, somewhat less-illustrious reviewers and academicians. The combined effect of their activities creates what is, perhaps, the ultimate makeshift register, the closed system of interdependent, inter-signified names that enables the name of an individual author to circulate as elite currency. In the twenties and thirties, responding to modernism often meant trafficking in various authorial names like so many emergent currencies; each critical approach, an arbitrage of names; each sustaining the system and its logic of valuation.
A Well-Regulated Economy

In 1929, James Joyce authorized C.K. Ogden to translate a large section of “Anna Livia Plurabelle” into Basic English. [End Page 5]

Anna was, Livia is, Plurabella’s to be. Northmen’s thing made southfolk’s place but howmulty plurators made eachone in person? Latin me that, my trinity scholard, out of eure sanscreed into oure eryan! Hircus Civis Eblanensis! He had buckgoat paps on him, soft ones for orphans. Ho, Lord! Twins of his bosom. Lord save us! And ho! Hey? What all men. Hot? His tittering daughters of? Whawk?


Anna was, Livia is, Plurabella’s to be. Our Norwegian Thing-seat was where Suffolk Street is, but what number of places will make things into persons? Put that into Latin, my Trinity Man, out of your Sanskrit into our Aryan. Hircus Civis Eblanensis! He was kind as a he-goat, to young without mothers. O, Laws! Soft milk bags two. O, Laws! O, Laws! Hey! What, all men? What? His laughing daughters of? What?

Basic English was, as the passage above makes clear, an invented, streamlined version of English, described by its inventor as, “the International Language of 850 words in which everything may be said.” 14 The selling point was its simplified lexicon that fit, supplemented by simplified grammar and usage notes, on a single small crib. It was designed by Ogden and I.A. Richards not to replace “Complete English,” but rather to provide non-native learners with a fully functional propaedeutic, one which, they hoped, would lubricate universal understanding and global exchange. 15 According to Ogden and Richards, the 850 represented the condensed lexicon of “Complete English,” the basic commodities in constant lexical demand, encapsulating the meaning of all other words. 16 Using a method that Ogden, a Bentham enthusiast, called “panoptic conjugation,” they removed all redundant words: all complex words-that is, all words definable in 10 words or less-were replaced with their “more basic” definiens. The stripped-down grammar of Basic followed the same anti-discursive logic. The standard parts of speech were scrapped, replaced by 400 general things (abstractions), 200 picturable things, 100 general qualities (adjectives), 50 opposites (more adjectives in binary pairs), and 100 operators (verbs, conjunctions, prepositions). 17

George Orwell’s dystopian Newspeak in 1984 was doubtlessly a meditation on the darker implications of this utopia. 18 Syme the lexicographer tells Winston Smith that

the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought . . . . In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. 19

One might suspect that Basic, however salutary its intent, was broadly ridiculed in a literary climate not especially given to language stripped of its literary pretensions or concerned with utilitarian ideals such as “technological efficiency” or “purely functional or operational phrases” for the transmission of meaning. 20 Such was not the case; [End Page 6] quite the contrary, in fact. Along with Joyce and I.A. Richards, G.B. Shaw, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, William Empson, Lawrence Durell, and even Orwell, it seems, at one time or other, spoke in favor of Basic. 21 Utopian premises aside, Basic momentarily seemed, for Joyce and others, to be a potentially viable means for disseminating literary work both beyond the highbrow and abroad, a possible intermediary step between originals and either annotations or translations.

Pound’s reaction, as usual, best glosses the compatibility between the lexical rationing of Basic and modernist critical projects. In an article written for The New English Weekly in 1935, he claims that Basic’s benefits are threefold:

I. As a training and exercise, especially for excitable yeasty youngsters who want so eagerly to mean something that they can’t take out time to think: What?
II. As a sieve. As a magnificent system for measuring extant works. As a jolly old means of weeding out bluffs, for weeding out fancy trimmings. . . . If a novelist can survive translation into basic, there is something solid under his language . . . .
IIIdly, and this is our specific opportunity. The advantage of BASIC vocabulary limited to 850 words and their variants . . . for the diffusion of ideas is, or should be, obvious to any man of intelligence. 22

In effect, the three points translate the Basic English program into a modernist’s critical vocabulary of weights and measures. The points resemble the original Basic planks of education and dissemination superficially, but the emphasis has shifted, underscoring Basic’s function as an instrument of authentication while ignoring its ambitions as a universal second language. The first point proposes Basic as a means to authenticate language-use, a way to train students to employ only the words charged with the utmost degree of meaning and shape their aimless literary aspirations with chisels of Basic translations and propaganda. 23 Even in the third, most straightforward point-in which recognizing Basic as a potent medium of knowledge becomes an intelligence test-the rhetorical shift is evident. The second point, however, most alien to the Basic agenda, best expresses how the economics represented by a scaled down lexicon come to implicate the literary uses of words and their authors.

For Pound, the relationship between the concepts of a bounded lexicon and a bounded register of authors’ names is more than analogical: Basic promises the ultimate means to authenticate an author’s words by, in effect, undoing them, by disenchanting the words from the superficial residue of authorship, so to speak. If “Anna Livia Plurabelle” remains Joycean in Basic form, then original words are proved to be more than prolix ornaments pointing immaterially to greater and greater numbers of words. What else is Pound’s solid referent under language besides Joyce the authentic remainder, the remainder for the sake of which an author is admitted into the active register of extant names, the list of survivors for which literary value had been thus secured. 24 [End Page 7]

The “harsh treatment . . . accorded a number of meritorious writers,” Pound writes in ABC of Reading,

proceeds from a firm conviction that the only way to keep the best writing in circulation, or to ‘make the best poetry popular’, is by drastic separation of the best from a great mass of writing that has been long considered of value, that has over-weighted all curricula, and that is to be blamed for the very pernicious current idea that a good book must be of necessity a dull one. 25

It is the same ideology of scarcity, underwriting attempts to reduce, regulate, thin out, digest, and condense the names of authors in circulation, which leads writers like Pound to rail against the “superfluous word,” call for vigilant accounting of proliferating adjectives, and endorse Basic English. Critics who have argued for a sea-change midway through Pound’s career, from aestheticism to political activism, often miss this remarkable continuity in the modes of applied scarcity across the span of his critical work. 26 Pound’s aversion to the over-use of adjectives in his imagist phase is not merely an early fixation of Mauberley-like aesthetic dilettantism. On the contrary, it is rooted in a more comprehensive aversion to oversupply, which Pound shares with other early advocates of modernism and which forms much of the basis for their critical interventions in mass culture and society.

Pound’s imagist polemic of 1913, “A Few Don’ts,” for example, his most famous jeremiad against adjectives, is not only preoccupied with le mot juste but also with an economy of valuation that seemingly cannot resist finding broader applications. “Use no superfluous word,” he writes,

no adjective which does not reveal something. Don’t use such an expression as ‘dim lands of peace’. It dulls the image. It mixes an abstraction with the concrete. It comes from the writer’s not realizing that the natural object is always the adequate symbol. 27

The same over-use, which has worn out words, also signifies the decay of influence:

Be influenced by as many great artists as you can, but have the decency to acknowledge the debt outright, or try to conceal it. Don’t allow ‘influence’ to mean merely that you mop up the particular decorative vocabulary of some one or two poets whom you happen to admire. 28

Influence, for Pound, must be harnessed with restrictive caveats. Calling attention to the widespread circulation of devalued, secondhand goods fuels demand for originality. When Pound recommends reading lists of great artists, which he will with increasing frequency in the coming decades, each carefully accounted name represents a particular debt owed to specific authors, the few whom he calls the inventors and masters. In this way, the critical accounting of influence supports a system of literary value backed by the preëminence of a few authors. Consequently, a writer who carelessly spreads phrases like dim lands of [End Page 8] peace does detriment to the system; he or she disseminates someone else’s words without paying tribute to productive sources.

This kind of thinking, moving readily from adjectives to authors, is easily applied to non-literary forms and so lends itself to a broader scrutiny of the times. Thus, in the same passage, Pound complains of

a Turkish war correspondent . . . recently caught red-handed babbling in his dispatches of ‘dove-grey’ hills, or else it was ‘pearl-pale’, I can not remember. 29

Once elaborated, the cautions Pound offers would-be modernists turn out to be less ex cathedra and more pragmatic than they have often been represented. It is, of course, a characteristically modernist form of pragmatism, one which is, as Balachandra Rajan so aptly describes Eliot’s criticism, “embedded in and nourished by the literary situation it endeavors to move forward, . . . seeking to reconsider the canon in order to align it with contemporary interests.” 30 More precisely stated, this form of criticism does not describe the features of the contemporary literary scene of the period so much as it makes the notion of a contemporary literary scene possible. When Pound writes that the poetry of the coming decades will be “austere, direct, free from emotional slither” and “will have fewer painted adjectives impeding the shock and stroke of it,” it is less a prediction than a prescription indispensable to the survival of small-scale cultural production in an age of mechanical reproduction. 31

The prescription of applied scarcity, nascent in even Pound’s earliest critical writings, comes to a head in his didactic guidebooks of the thirties, his seminal pamphlet, How to Read (1931), and books like ABC of Reading (1934) and Guide to Kulchur (1938). Its first substantial airing comes, quite tellingly, in the early twenties, with Pound’s contribution to the inaugural volume of Eliot’s Criterion in 1923. The piece, “On Criticism in General,” presents his version of The Criterion’s mission-beating out Eliot’s official editorial statement by one issue. It pins the future of the journal’s literary mission on a well-pruned readership willing to implement the aesthetic risorgimento. With quasi-militaristic language and dispatch, he casts aside half the journal’s readership as unfit for duty and calls to action “the half-thousand exiles and proscripts who are ready to risk the coup” to re-organize their reading habits “in some stricter fashion.” 32 To this end, he unveils a formal system of categories, a heuristic designed to assist the army’s campaign of singling out the authors worth reading. Anticipating his attraction to Basic ten years later, he explains the heuristic as a critical sieve, a means of augmenting value by way of reducing number. Retained and tweaked throughout the thirties, this heuristic distills Pound’s longstanding literary critical preoccupations, redressing the need he highlighted ten years before in The Spirit of Romance for a means to adjudicate the present literary scene by means of the literary past, “a [End Page 9] literary scholarship, which will weigh Theocritus and Yeats with one balance, and which will judge dull dead men as inexorably as dull writers of today.” 33

Outwardly, Pound’s heuristic consists of five classes of authors ranked by degrees of originality and innovation:

A. The ‘predecessors,’ inventors, discoverers of fragments which are later used in masterwork; Arnaut Daniel and the better Troubadours, the hypothetical ballad writers who went before Homer, etc.
B. The ‘greats,’ the ‘masters.’
C. The diluters, those who follow either small discoverers or great writers and who produce something less, something more flabby, in the wake of the real.
D. (and this class contains the bulk of all writing). The men who do more or less good style of a period. Of these, the delightful anthologies, the song books, the matters of taste, for you prefer Wyatt to Donne, Donne to Herrick, Drummond of Hawthornden to Brown who wrote ‘Led by the blind and halit by a bairn,’ or vise versa, in response to a purely personal sympathy. And these people . . . add but a slight personal flavour, a slight variant, to their own pages, without affecting the main form of the story.
E. One might add a fifth class: the starters of crazes, . . . whose wave of fashion flows over writing for a few decades or even centuries, and then subsides, leaving the solid things where they were. 34

Pound later added a sixth class: the “writers of belle-lettres,” the “men who didn’t really invent anything, but who specialized in some part of writing, who couldn’t be considered as ‘great men’ or as authors who were trying to give a complete presentation of life, or of their epoch”-though the addition appears only for the sake of completeness. 35 To put the heuristic to proper use, Pound instructs readers, they must train themselves solely on the first two classes, on identifying the so-called inventors and masters, those responsible for innovations and those responsible for perfecting them. Thus, inventors and masters not only merit the majority of one’s critical attention but also become one’s critical instruments: “If a man have these two in his memory, he can fairly well ‘place’ or estimate any example of the latter classes; . . . he won’t be sold a pup by some dealer in false antiquities.” 36 It is telling that Pound equates the capacity to discern the first two classes of authors from the remainder with the ability to detect inferior goods in the marketplace. For him, inventors and masters are, in effect, benchmarks, standards of critical measurement. The connection with the marketplace is crucial for this mode of literary criticism both in its manifest rhetoric and its less conspicuous yet consummate veneration of scarce goods. A reader who has an operative sense of the two categories, Pound writes, can cut through empty literary orthodoxy (the “half-knowing and half-thinking critics”) crowding the great writers and present readers like a “mass of dead matter” in marketplace proportions of “one barrel of sawdust to each half-bunch of grapes.” 37

The heuristic relating author to author has the avowed purpose of [End Page 10] guiding readers into a well-regulated economy of words as they “examine works where language is efficiently used.” 38 Evoking his appraisal of Basic, Pound’s system for measuring extant works links a few words, a few authors, a few works, and a few readers as mutually defined and mutually dependent commodities, things that seemingly find their inherent correspondences in shared scarcity. 39 The heuristic and its instructions, at the heart of “How to Read” and the ABC of Reading, represent literally, as the titles intimate, the basic rules for compiling reading lists for all “those who might like to learn,” from the most inexperienced student to the professor hardened with “empiric professional knowledge.” 40 Pound’s heuristic purports to enable readers to see for themselves, to construe their own closefisted catalogues of inventors and masters, to figure for themselves, in Eliot’s phrase, the “balance-sheet of English literature.” 41 Pound repeatedly incites readers to call the bluff (“YOU WILL NEVER KNOW either why I chose them [some authors over others], or why they were worth choosing, or why you approve or disprove my choice, until you go to the TEXTS, the originals”), but whether different readers will arrive at different balances is beside the point. 42 Here, the precise names canonized are less significant than the act of instituting originality, mastery, and scarcity as operative principles in the use of words and the circulation of author’s names.

The most familiar version of this form of literary economics comes from Eliot in “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” According to his account of elite literary production, the master is compelled “to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous order and composes a simultaneous order.” 43 The most superlative living authors, in other words, have an innate sympathy with the economy of names. This defining capacity, which seems to defy knowledge or intention, takes in the economy of extant names and reconfigures it to account for its own emergent currency. When a new work appears, it alters the order of

all the works of art which preceded it. The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them. The existing order is complete before the new work arrives; for order to persist after the supervention of novelty, the whole existing order must be, if ever so slightly, altered; and so the relations, proportions, values of each work of art towards the whole are readjusted. 44

Eliot’s existing monuments are structurally related to Pound’s countless “exhibits”; E.M. Forster’s British Museum reading room; F.R. Leavis’s Eliot, Pound, Hopkins, Austen, George Eliot, James, Conrad, and D.H. Lawrence; Edmund Wilson’s Yeats, Eliot, Joyce, Stein, Rimbaud, Valéry, and Proust; F.O. Matthiessen’s Emerson, Whitman, James, [End Page 11] and Eliot; and countless subsequent works of literary criticism in and through which the limited register circulates. And, where is this economy best exemplified-brought into being, so to speak-other than the specific, ahistorical brand of literary economics elucidated and promoted by Pound, Eliot, and fellow economists?

F.R. Leavis, among the earliest, most studious readers of Eliot and Pound in this context, describes their critical instigations as a bid for “stock-taking . . . that has long been overdue . . . into the state of literary culture.” 45 In “How to Teach Reading” (1932), responding to Pound’s How to Read, he attempts to straighten out the accounts:

It is assumed, of course, that he [the modern reader] is familiar with the classics, major and minor-and they are, in conventional acceptance, many-of his own tongue. Then there are the Classics. Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Theocritus, Virgil, Ovid, Catullus, Lucretius, Petronius, Apuleius and the rest. . . . [I]t is the current ‘culture’-values that must be taken seriously: Joyce, Proust, Lawrence, Eliot, W.H. Auden (now that E.E. Cummings has gone out), Faulkner (succeeding to Hemingway), Valéry, Gide, Eluard, St.-J. Perse and a wide varying fringe. Apart from the chic contemporary names, one knows, of course, French literature in general and certain high currency-values in particular: Rimbaud, Laforgue, Corbiere, Baudelaire. . . . And the Russians are not yet forgotten. Then there is Dante, whom one hasn’t merely read, as one has Goethe and Lucretius (for one has, of course, read Santayana’s Three Philosophical Poets). . . . The list is long. 46

Tongue in cheek, he describes the system of names inside which “the cultivated modern must pretend to be at home,” demonstrating in the process the familiar ease with which modernists apply economic notions of currencies, commodities, and markets to literary culture. Names, ideas, whole national literatures go up or down in value; following the market becomes a full time business. The joke is, of course, that the over-long list Leavis exhibits registers the influences of his own private reading, his various modernist informants, Pound, Eliot, Santayana, and Edmund Wilson. Ironically, for Leavis, like Pound and Eliot before him, the problem at hand-that is, the one facing the supposed “minority” for whom culture is more than dissipating distraction-remains over-accumulation. The extant names must be constantly thinned out, not so much to make them manageable as for the sake of preserving the list’s elite cultural purchase.

As Eliot suggests in “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” the principles of originality, mastery, and scarcity hold out in themselves the possibility that critical equilibrium may be found while sifting through, to use Leavis’s metaphor, the contemporary scene. The principles encourage readers to apply themselves to the literary works of the living, the works, for which, pace Eliot, they have been charged to perceive in “simultaneous existence” and “simultaneous order” with those of the dead. 47 Hugh Kenner, for example, completes Pound’s critical work in absentia, when, as if on cue, he borrows his heuristic [End Page 12] and applies it to the still nascent modernist canon in The Poetry of Ezra Pound (1951). Kenner’s application is, in a sense, the truth of Pound’s heuristic, because it follows Pound’s script, placing Pound on top, making him (once again) the recipient of his meticulously fashioned identity, poetic impresario, il miglior fabbro, latter-day Arnaut Daniel:

(a) The inventors. In our time, pre-eminently Pound.
(b) The masters. Eliot and Joyce.
(c) The diluters. Auden, Spender, the Sitwells, ‘the thirties’.
(d) Workers in ‘the style of the period’. To be filled in ad lib. W.C. Williams? Hemingway?
(e) Belle Lettres. Ford Madox Ford, perhaps.
(f) Starters of crazes. Gertrude Stein. 48

For Kenner, in effect, Pound’s program for a well-regulated economy of names yields but three for further consideration: Pound, Eliot, and Joyce. Here, as Kenner inscribes Pound within Pound’s own notion, Pound’s seemingly disinterested program to economize words and names, to level literary present and past, to place Theocritus and Yeats in a single balance, reveals itself to be one of modernism’s most canny specimens of self-promotional propaganda.

Without a doubt, this deliberate overemphasis on too few authors made modernism appealing to those eager to amass cultural capital, including, among others, certain members of academia. It also, beyond any doubt, buttresses charges of modernism’s fundamental cultural elitism. Yet, do Pound, Eliot, Leavis and critical company in this regard interact with authorial names any differently in kind from other readers, or is the difference a question of amplitude? If their dependence on an ideology of originality, mastery, and scarcity is culturally oppositional (either elitist or resistant, depending on one’s cultural politics), it nevertheless draws upon, and perhaps amplifies, prevalent, pre-existing systems of value. The question at hand is whether or not the economy of names promoted by modernist literary economics is different in kind from the names circulating in the economy at large. The names of at least two of Kenner’s three, James Joyce and T.S. Eliot, circulated in both economies; they conveyed broader associations and increasing renown throughout the twenties of an order coexisting with and even preceding their conceptual significance for modernist literary criticism.
The Symptom of Eliot

“It is hardly necessary at this time of Day to point out the importance of Mr. Eliot as a symptom.” 49 So writes a reviewer in early 1929 in The Oxford Magazine in a notice of Eliot’s For Lancelot Andrewes. The context for this statement was the growing coherence of Eliot’s political and religious conservatism and growing coherence of Eliot as a signifier. [End Page 13] By the end of the twenties, readers had become accustomed to taking “Eliot” as a signifier for a number of social and cultural conditions; now, the reviewer observes, Eliot the symptom was undergoing significant changes. Eliot’s conversion to Anglicanism, for example, which took place less than two years earlier, had been a keenly watched public display, and seemed to be undertaken as such, an act intimately related to his decision in the same year to become a British subject. As Leonard Woolf put it, it seemed that Eliot was “becoming an Anglican in a desperate effort to show that even in religion he is not an American.” 50 More crucial than Eliot’s citizenship, however, is the sense explicit in Woolf’s remark that, for Eliot, becoming British and Anglican was a kind of performance, a display for which a broader interpretation was not just appropriate but also inevitable. From prominent acquaintances such as Woolf to anonymous undergraduate reviewers, the characteristic way T.S. Eliot was taken in his own time was as a kind of ominous cultural signifier, a symptom of the general state of cultural affairs. Between Eliot’s somewhat unpropitious literary arrival with Prufrock and Other Observations in 1917 and the raising of the literary, political, and religious tricolor with For Lancelot Andrewes in 1928, finding out the importance of Mr. Eliot the symptom became a full-scale project for occasional reviewers, comparable only perhaps to the related phenomena with respect to D.H. Lawrence and James Joyce.

During these ten or so years, Eliot’s name represented more than a coterie concern, more than a fringe avocation in bohemian quarters and among the literary intelligentsia. But, who knew of Eliot, one might ask, if less than 15,000 copies of The Waste Land (with and without his appended notes) made rounds in 1922 and 1923 in England and the United States between The Criterion, The Dial, the Boni and Liveright and the Hogarth editions? In some ways, who was reading Eliot is the wrong yardstick to measure the circulation of Eliot’s name. As a cultural signifier, Eliot’s name represented more than the sum of those intimate with his works. In Lawrence Rainey’s provocative formulation, modernism’s success depended largely on the promotion of the author’s reputation among non-readers, and “the not-reading that was practiced by the editors of the Dial [is] itself a trenchant ‘reading’ of The Waste Land’s place in the structural logic and development of literary modernism.” 51

Two examples will suffice to indicate the extent and nature of Eliot’s celebrity following the publication of The Waste Land and the awarding of the Dial Prize. First, the following testimonial, with which the editors of Vogue nominated him to their “Hall of Fame” in 1924: Eliot “has, metaphorically,” they write, “the highest brow of any man alive”; second, the inaugural issue of Time Magazine in 1923, then as now fashioning itself as an omniscient intermediary between high and [End Page 14] lowbrow. It published a spurious notice for The Waste Land, entitled “Shantih, Shantih, Shantih: Has the Reader Any Rights Before the Bar of Literature?” The case for the prosecution, it seems, consists solely of the coda of The Waste Land, the last eight lines, which, tweezed from the poem and any explanation, are offered as an open and shut case for condemnation. “There is a new kind of literature abroad in the land,” Time’s writers remark, “whose only fault is that no one can understand it.” In Time, highbrow inaccessibility is a fault; in Vogue, it is a virtue. But in both cases, it is inaccessibility that solicits wider notice.

To track the circulation of Eliot’s name we cannot confine our consideration to the name that circulates on the spines of books; owning the book and reading it, as publicists know, is only a temporary stopover in the greater circulation of the author’s name. The reach of the name James Joyce during this period may best illustrate this point. Because of the troubled publication history of Joyce’s work, there was an inescapable imbalance between those who knew of Joyce and those who knew Joyce’s texts first hand. In the October 1922 Dial, the issue preceding the Waste Land number, the editors puff Eliot’s coming attraction with a comparison to Ulysses, which comes out of this context: “It is not improbable that the appearance of The Waste Land will rank with that of Ulysses in the degree of interest it will call forth.” 52 Why was this judged to be effective publicity? After all, who at this time in the United States or England was reading a complete copy of Joyce’s Ulysses? Owning it was not only illegal in both countries (until 1933 and 1936, respectively) but also prohibitively expensive. 53 Yes, copies were obtainable, through French diplomatic post, borrowed, smuggled-in copies, but even eager, would-be readers like F.R. Leavis did not have access to them. Leavis tried to circumvent the ban in 1926, by appealing unsuccessfully to the Home Office for a dispensation “for purposes of illustration and comment in his course ‘Modern Problems in Criticism.'” 54 It is Leavis’s keen desire to have a copy of Ulysses and not the copy itself (or the contents thereof) that marks the reach of James Joyce the signifier.

In Michael Arlen’s The Green Hat (1924), a novel that sold over 185,000 copies, Iris Storm picks up a copy of Joyce’s Ulysses from a floor “so littered with books that you might hardly take a step without stumbling over one.” 55 Looking at it “vaguely,” she then drops it “absently on the floor amongst the others.” 56 The modernist’s name works as a signifier because of, not despite, a degree of inaccessibility-not despite Storm’s indifference to Joyce among the wrecks of an exploded library but because of Joyce’s naming in Arlen’s much more widely disseminated work. Consequently, the sum of limited printings, editions, and other opportunities readers had to access Eliot’s works do not represent an accurate gauge of the extent of Eliot’s [End Page 15] renown. The very rationale of the limited edition as a business model, the middle term in what Rainey calls modernism’s “tripartite production program-journal, limited edition and public or commercial edition,” starts from this assumption. 57 Signed, illustrated, finely papered and wrapped, gold-edged, printed in off-set colors, these luxury commodities were designed to be scarce, to be more heard of than come across, and to redound their excess aura to the authorial name.

The prominent position of the limited edition in modernist publishing practice, exemplified by small presses with names like Cuala, Hogarth, Contact, Hours, Three Mountains, and Black Sun, indicates that modernists were quite savvy when it came to using scarcity as an iconoclastic instrument of self-promotion and valuation. 58 The editors of Dial, in fact, associate their realization of Eliot’s value with the awareness that their copy of Prufock and Other Observations had been filched: “When Prufrock in paper covers first appeared, to become immediately one of the rarest of rare books (somebody stole ours as early as 1919) Mr Eliot was already redoubtable.” 59 In their case, apparently, not owning a copy of Eliot’s poems serves as an acute marker of ascendant demand for Eliot. Indeed, it is this sense of demand, stoked by word-of-mouth, table-talk, letters, occasional reviewing, sample passages, documented by trips to London to buy books and magazines, and missing copies of The Waste Land, expertly torn from The Dial in the collections of the Bodleian library at Oxford and no doubt elsewhere, that records the pull of Eliot the signifier.

The references to Oxford and the Oxford Magazine above are by no means capricious; undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge (like their counterparts at Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, whom Malcolm Cowley describes in Exile’s Return) were among the first keyed into the Eliot phenomenon and among the first to register the demand for modernism as a potent vehicle for reputation, provocation, and desire. In Memoirs of an Aesthete, Harold Acton takes credit for introducing Eliot to Oxford in the early twenties during his infamous undergraduate career, writing that he “did more than anyone else to celebrate the achievements of Eliot [at Oxford].” 60 In an extraordinary passage, Acton locates Eliot at the center of a dilating bacchanalia of modern experiences, collegiate memories cross-indexed with homosexualized exoticism, white Jazz, and the degeneration of the West:

George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” accompanied every rough and tumble on the sofa. The strumming wistful hesitations, the almost one finger tinkling about on the piano, picking a tentative way towards the opening carefree chord-crashes of Paul Whiteman’s Boanergetic band, with every brilliantined head wobbling and bobbing up and down and loose double-jointed limbs jerked out in dislocated paroxysms of rhythmic abandon; the languid negroid nostalgia alternating with the Jewish; the passages of purely mechanical virtuosity developing into the triumphant sex-cries of robots-all this wham-slam whine-drone expressed a desperate modernity entirely un-European which yet voiced the emotion of ‘April is the cruellest month’. It excited [End Page 16] the nerves . . . [and] cast a twentieth-century spell which dove-tailed into the divagations of Picasso, Mr. Prufrock and Gertrude Stein. 61

As the passage suggests, from certain privileged viewpoints, such as that of the Oxford aesthete, modernity appears as an undifferentiated mine of signifiers loaded with covert prestige: cocktails, jazz, homosex, machines, racial others, cubism, and T.S. Eliot.

The specific pairing of Prufrock and cubism seemed to convey such undercurrents at Oxford even before Acton came up. In 1919, for example, The Isis, an undergraduate journal, printed a short poem, entitled “The Sad Story of the Young Man from M-rt-n”:

‘I will wear Cubist
He said.
‘I will make Oxford beautiful.
I will make the High
And the Corn
Crimson,’ he said.

‘I will wear Cubist Trousers.’
However, the Philistines
(Who were not
Beset him.
‘We will not have Cubist
Trousers,’ they said.
‘It is not nice to wear Cubist
They said.
‘They are affected.
Let us de-
Bag him.’
And they de-
Bagged him.

This is what always happens at Oxford
When one tries
To be Decorative.

We will wear Cubist trousers. 62

Certainly, the poem and its accompanying illustrations (see Figures 1a-c) draw on the longstanding Oxbridge discourse of dandy-aesthetes and equally longstanding folklore about the animosity between the dandy-aesthetes and the philistine-hearties, antedating even Matthew Arnold’s days at Oriel College. 63 Eliot’s insertion into this folklore, recommended by a number of clues, resonates with his name’s suggestion of oppositional culture and its accompanying covert prestige [End Page 17] [Begin Page 20] .

Eliot himself, of course, spent time at Merton College (i.e., M-rt-n) as a postgraduate during the war years, 1914 and 1915. It is the charge of cubism, however-cubist trousers, more specifically-that seals the connection between this minor verse and Prufrock. In 1916, Arthur Waugh reviewed Pound’s Catholic Anthology, which included “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and leveled this somewhat peculiar charge: “This strange little volume bears upon its cover a geometrical device, suggesting that the material within holds the same relation to the art of poetry as the work of the Cubist school holds to art of painting and design.” 64 Waugh’s sense of cubism holds the same relation to actual cubism (and to Dorothy Shakespear’s Vorticist cover art, for that matter) as his Eliot holds to Eliot’s actual poetry-both of which count as little more than cultural patricide. Cubist verse, writes Waugh,

proceeds to the convenient assumption that everything which seemed wise and true to the father must be false and foolish to the son. Yet if the fruits of emancipation are to be recognized in the unmetrical, incoherent banalities of these literary ‘Cubists,’ the state of Poetry is indeed threatened with anarchy which will end in something worse even than ‘red ruin and the breaking up of laws.’

Inscribed within this paternalistic narrative, the so-called literary cubists are represented as presumptuous upstarts, condemned at once for ordinariness, presuming their intelligibility, and for obscurity, suggesting the opposite. Above all, Waugh bristles at the following lines from “Prufrock”:

I grow old . . . . I grow old . . . .
I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me. 65

Such lines stand for the nadir of the cubist “school of literary license,” the banality of its “premature decrepitude.” 66 Lumping poet and poem together with the cultural pathology they diagnose, he cannot distinguish Eliot from Eliot’s subject matter-that is, the premature decrepitude of Prufrock’s superannuated fixations on trouser rolls and other prosaic matters-from Eliot’s literary framework. This inability to distinguish poet from work leads Waugh to a startlingly brutal recommendation: as drunken slaves were exhibited in Rome, Eliot and his fellow literary cubists should be displayed as abject lessons so that aspiring poets will be made “ashamed at the ignominious folly of [their] gesticulations” and decide “never to be tempted into such a pitiable condition themselves.” 67

The idea of cubist trousers, returning to the Isis poem, if not a direct reference to Waugh’s assessment of Eliot’s “Prufrock,” participates in the same cultural idiom. Not surprisingly, Ezra Pound’s reply to Waugh’s [End Page 20] review, “Drunken Helots and Mr. Eliot,” published in The Egoist in 1917, rehearses the same synthesis. According to Pound, Waugh’s vehement opposition only serves to bear out Eliot’s reputation:

[I]f . . . genius manifests itself, at once some elderly gentleman has a flux of bile from his liver; at once from the throne or the easy Cowperian sofa, or from the gutter, or from the oeconomical press room there bursts a torrent of elderly words, splenetic, irrelevant, they form themselves instinctively into large phrases denouncing the inordinate product . . . . This particular kind of rabbia might almost be taken as the test of a work of art. 68

As in the Isis poem, Pound’s reply, somewhat impishly, turns vehement opposition on its head. Note again the unrelenting insistences that overabundance is antithetical to value. In Eliot, he suggests, the overabundance of critical scorn undoes itself, becoming a sign of Eliot’s intrinsic value. Eliot becomes “Mr. Heliot,” a name transforming Waugh’s rhetoric into a youthful and riotous array of covertly prestigious associations, for, Pound writes, is it not better to be in the company of helots, who “have a new music, a new refinement, a new method of turning old phrases into new by their aptness,” than among “an aristocracy made up of, possibly, Tennyson, Southey, and Wordsworth, the flunky, the dull, and the duller”? 69

Mr. Heliot, the representation of Eliot as a licentious poetic rebel, appears repeatedly in the undergraduate youth culture of the twenties. The Oxford Broom, Acton’s short-lived literary journal publishing three issues in 1922 and 1923, reflects the continued influence of this particular conception of Eliot on undergraduate writing. An unsigned editorial, “Poetical Bread: A Note and Recipe,” bemoans that “the world has become prosaic through a superflux of dainties.” Once again, a stiff dose of Prufrock’s trousers is the preferred remedy:

When the average poet of to-day hears ‘time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near,’ he has not the sufficient faith . . . to say how he is affected. He will dare not express himself about it with the candid honesty of Mr. T.S. Eliot:

“I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.”-

Mr. Heliot was a phenomenon among Cambridge undergraduates as well-where Eliot’s connection has been more frequently acknowledged vis-à-vis the English faculty. Just as at Oxford, so too at Cambridge, new undergraduate literary magazines, bannered with raffishly modernist titles like Venture and Experiment, were launched under these signs. 70

Muriel Bradbrook describes the significance of Eliot among her undergraduate set at Cambridge in the late twenties:

Once I heard Sir Herbert Grierson read aloud the poetry which, as a young man, he had recited to himself ecstatically as he walked Edinburgh’s New Town; and for those [End Page 21] moments, listening, I could feel that Swinburne might be a great poet. What Swinburne was to Grierson, Eliot was to us. 71

Each generation, his or her youth culture. The schism of taste cannot be bridged. Only for the briefest moment can Bradbrook imagine Grierson’s Swinburne as a great poet and then only by analogy with her Eliot and her own youth: “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive.” 72 No small part of Bradbrook’s “new world” involves experiencing Eliot as a near contemporary, being “able to go into a bookshop and buy a new volume entitled Ash Wednesday,” an act of unembarrassed star worship, which she recalls as a direct challenge to, of all things, the anonymous practical criticism protocols she experienced weekly in Richard’s lectures. 73

In fact, practical criticism protocols, Richards’ research into undergraduate literary responses that culminated in the prescriptive hermeneutics of Practical Criticism: A Study in Literary Judgment (1929), constituted a selective refinement of a critical stance already available in Eliot’s undergraduate prestige, which valued “Eliot” for his capacity as a contemporary cultural symptom. In Lions and Shadows, Christopher Isherwood, also a Cambridge undergraduate in the late twenties, describes this intervention and transformation:

[Richards] was our guide, our evangelist, who revealed to us, in a succession of astounding lightning flashes, the entire expanse of the Modern World. Up to this moment, we had been . . . romantic conservatives, devil-worshippers, votaries of ‘Beauty’ and ‘Vice,’ Manicheans, would-be Kropotkin anarchists, who refused to read T.S. Eliot (because of his vogue amongst the Poshocracy) . . . . Now, in a moment all was changed. Poets, ordered Mr. Richards, were to reflect the World-Picture. 74

Until they encounter Richards, their tastes are shades of Malcolm Cowley’s “theory of convolutions”: Isherwood and his friends (of the second convolution) choose not to read Eliot in order to “go beyond” (in Cowley’s phrase) “the Poshocracy” (of the first), who idolize Eliot largely because still other students have not yet heard of him. 75 The change Richards occasions for Isherwood breaks these convolutions; Richards returns Isherwood to T.S. Eliot, the poet of the Modern World, as a means of permanent valuation, as a means to the Weltanschauung.
Parody, Plagiarism, Protocols

In the newly restructured Cambridge English Faculty of the twenties, Eliot was one of the chief figures of contention. Younger faculty members came out for and against Eliot publicly, in lectures, Cambridge publications, and national journals. By contrast, Eliot found fewer proponents in the English Faculty at Oxford, although he found equally vehement antagonists, such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, [End Page 22] willing to go to lengths to denounce heliotic undergraduate enthusiasms. 76 At Cambridge, the case was different. Eliot’s name “was as a red rag to a bull” for many members of the faculty, but students like Bradbrook had lecturers like Leavis who gave Eliot and other contemporary poets equal footing. 77 Leavis stood out, according to Bradbrook, for the very reason that he repeatedly cited Eliot in lectures (as well as Walter de la Mare, Edmund Blunden, Edward Thomas, Ronald Bottrall and William Empson). 78 Richards was also popular. 79 Like Leavis, he made no secret of his debts to Eliot and contemporary authors, more generally. In lecture, his “revolutionary method” of practical criticism deliberately concealed the authorship of his poetic specimens, but he was inclined nevertheless to treat specimens as contemporaneous moderns through modernized spelling and modernizing omissions made “in the interests of the experiment.” 80

On the other side of the Eliot divide, opposing Richards and Leavis, was F.L. Lucas, a fellow at King’s College and one of Eliot’s most vociferous and prolific denigrators. The mouthpiece, according to Leavis’s biographer, for “a large sector of anti-Eliot opinion” at Cambridge, he took umbrage at two related things: Eliot’s use of erudite pastiche and his popularity among undergraduates, those least tutored in erudition and thus least equipped to judge as bogus Eliot’s erudition. 81 Bogus erudition is, Lucas writes, a “particularly easy way to win the applause of the blasé and the young, of the coteries and eccentricities.” Above all, the combination of sham erudition and popularity in the Junior Common Room and other degenerate quarters indicated to Lucas that Eliot was a poet manqué, a “toad” bedecked in “borrowed jewels.” 82 As Leavis’s biographer has astutely observed, Lucas tended to review Eliot as if he were evaluating unsatisfactory tutorial assignments. 83 His review of The Waste Land, for example: “Mr. Eliot has shown that he can at the moment write real blank verse; but that is all. For the rest he has quoted a great deal, he has parodied and imitated. But the parodies are cheap and the imitations inferior.” 84 Inadequate work, Mr. Eliot-smacks of plagiarism.

Leavis and Richards defended Eliot’s name both from such professorial condescension and from the undergraduate associations, which elicited it. Beyond all other consideration, they sought to defend his name from association with the charge of plagiarism, the undergraduate crime par excellence. In an essay published in the New Statesman in 1926, one he considered important enough to include as an appendix to Principles of Literary Criticism, Richards argues that both phenomena-the quantity of “enthusiastic bewilderment” (read undergraduate”enthusiastic bewilderment”) and “irritation” (read donnish “irritation”) Eliot elicits-are side-effects of Eliot’s particular brand of genius:

We too readily forget that, unless something is very wrong with our civilisation, we should be producing three equal poets at least for every poet of high rank in our [End Page 23] great-great-grandfathers’ day. Something must indeed be wrong; and since Mr. Eliot is one of the very few poets that current conditions have not overcome, the difficulties which he has faced and the cognate difficulties which his readers encounter, repay study. 85

Richards re-orients Eliot’s association with the present, making it a correspondence with an advanced age rather than spurious youth: by all rights, he suggests, the Moderns should have three-times as many high ranking poets as the Romantics. The “cognate difficulties” of Eliot with his literary career and Eliot’s readers with his poetry follow from problems in modern civilization.

In 1929, responding to an anonymous rant against For Lancelot Andrewes in the New Statesman and Nation, Leavis published a defense of Eliot in the Cambridge Review quite similar to Richards’, albeit one even more rhetorically bracing. The New Statesman and Nation piece had all the traces of the F.L. Lucas brand of condescension, and Leavis judged him the likely culprit. 86 Fittingly, Leavis called his defense “T.S. Eliot: A Reply to the Condescending.” For a critic of Leavis’s professional purpose, condescension, especially when trained on his literary and critical avatar, was an impermissible critical mode. He locates its cause accurately in the distinctly uncritical prejudices elicited by Eliot’s “great reputation among the young.” 87 In this regard, condescension is a misguided by-product of Eliot’s notoriety, a “snobism attendant, inevitably, upon the vogue that Mr Eliot enjoys or suffers from.” The “argument” against Eliot, which “tends to recur when the consciously adult, especially in the academic world, speak and write of Mr. Eliot,” is less an argument than an assumption that the tastes of the younger coming generation are defective tout ensemble. All those “who practice and criticise the most recent fashions in literature,” are supposed to be simply doe-eyed, star struck by the very idea of Eliot, the masterly autodidact, performing erudition with critical purpose. 88

As “one who still counts himself among the young,” Leavis takes it as a duty to contravene an assumption so intentionally hostile to the contemporary scene. Thus, in the studied rhetoric of modernist bookkeeping, Leavis uses Lucas’s intemperate condescension as “a fair opportunity to acknowledge his debt [to Eliot] and define its nature.” He writes:

we recognize in Mr Eliot a poet of profound originality, and of especial significance to all who are concerned with the future of English poetry. To describe him as “practising more recent fashions” is misleading, and betrays ignorance and prejudice . . . . [T]here is no other poetry in the least like Mr. Eliot’s: he is an originator, and if he has his mimics, he could be confused with them only by the malicious or the incompetent. 89

Eliot’s a priori singularity, present in Richards’s review, becomes even more strident here. Much of the Scrutiny writing to follow by Leavis [End Page 24] and others continues in this vein specifically, thinning the herd of modernist poetasters by denouncing imitators of Eliot and the kinds of modernist tagalongs Leavis came to associate with Sitwellism. 90 The passage is a deliberate reversal of the charges Lucas levels at Eliot. Eliot represents such profound originality for Leavis that anyone who mistakes his peerless originality (“most modern of the moderns,” “more truly traditional than the ‘traditionalists'”) for mere copies defines his or her failure as a critic. Eliot becomes the locus classicus for an emergent critical preoccupation with originality, a response that restates unruly undergraduate responses to Eliot (discussed above) in more respectable, more institutionally friendly terms. The lines from “Prufrock” (“I grow old . . . I grow old . . ./I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled) remain the reference point of choice. In New Bearings on English Poetry (1932), he admits that these lines “must have been difficult to take seriously in 1917” but, in retrospect, sees this defiance of “the traditional canon of seriousness” as “an important event in the history of English poetry” as follows “a complete break with the nineteenth-century tradition, and a new start.” 91 The very preoccupation with originality was, as Leavis’s notes in New Bearings suggest, itself a dialectical response to a broader cross-section of undergraduate reading practices, as mediated by Richards’s practical criticism methods and examples. 92

In 1929, the same year as Leavis’s dust-up with Lucas and Eliot’s political, religious, and aesthetic coming-out, Richards published Practical Criticism, collating the results of his famous experiments. Each week, Richards sent auditors home with an anonymous, unmarked batch of poems, asking them, under conditions of anonymity, to “comment freely in writing upon them.” 93 These comments, called “protocols,” once collected and analyzed, formed the subject matter for his subsequent lectures on literary misinterpretation and eventually, after he processed hundreds of protocols, the core of the book Practical Criticism itself. The subject group were mostly Cambridge undergraduates, although a small number of graduates, colleagues (including F.R. Leavis and Mansfield Forbes), and non-academics (including T.S. Eliot) also took part. 94 The book, writes Richards, “is the record of a piece of fieldwork in comparative ideology,” a scientific foray into “the vast corpus of problems, assumptions, adumbrations, fictions, prejudices, tenets; the sphere of random beliefs and hopeful guesses.” 95 In short, it is a foray into the mind of the Cambridge English student as it is transfixed by a certain kind of literary object.

Given the aggregation of documents and authors from which Practical Criticism is drawn, Richards’s dedication is revealing: “to my collaborators whether their work appears in these pages or not.” 96 The authors of the protocols and the authors of the poems provide the source of the first half of the text, and they represent the subjects for [End Page 25] the correctives he proposes in the second. Both groups of absent collaborators share-and to certain extent, suffer from-a state of forced anonymity, which, Richards avers, is indispensable for narrowing the variables of the experiment, encouraging candor and eliminating interference from ostensibly irrelevant external factors and third parties. Anonymity is, for Richards, the means of isolating his object of study: the moment of communication, or lack thereof, between reader and poem. As such, it is temporary, a means to defer judgment, attributions, prejudices until-but only until-the poem is given a close reading. An appendix, necessitated by copyright “obligations,” reveals the “particulars as to the authorship and date of the poems,” but readers are told not to peek. “For obvious reasons,” he warns, “the interest of these pages will be enhanced if the reader remains unaware of the authorship of the poems until his own opinions of them have been formed and tested by comparison with the many other here given.” 97 Readers will get the most out of the text, he suggests, if they take the test; if they simulate the experimental conditions themselves. In other editions, the attributions are appended at the back in mirror-image like solutions to a puzzle. 98

Critics, noting Richards’s debt to Eliot’s theory of impersonality, on the one hand, and his influence on Leavisite and New Criticism, on the other, have often, and quite rightly, seen Richards’s methods as a decisive component in the canonization of modernism in the academy. Still, what has been less understood is exactly why practical criticism found its ideal critical object in modernism. Richards’s methodology depends upon a particular mode of detection, one which complicates received narratives about practical criticism’s hermeneutic being constitutionally sympathetic to modernism’s supposed impersonality, its aesthetics, or its preliminary canon. In his analysis and selection of protocols in Practical Criticism, Richards enshrines a particular sequence of literary detection in which originality is at once recursively attributed and conferred through the practice of interpretation. Contrary to received wisdom, authorship has a defined place in this sequence, one which Richards clearly acknowledges.

Of the three hundred or so protocols that Richards includes, a fairly large number attempt to attribute authorship in one way or another. With wide-ranging degrees of certitude, writers attempt to adduce authorship in their protocols: a given poem is a combination of author A and author B, a disreputable offspring of C (misunderstood); it has a quite D-ic weight of statement, a strong E-esque vein, a taste of life as F knew it; it can be held on par with a similar one by G; it commences like an airy H rhyme for young and old, it ends with the tone of I, it could well have been written by a drunk devotee of J; did K write it?; it is, fairly obviously, by L; it has a smack of M; it is in the manner of N and O; it is linked somehow to P; Q expressed the same message; it made me think it was by R;it must be from S [End Page 26] but cannot be placed exactly, influenced by T, worthy of U, rather like V but better, reminds me of W or W’s remark in one of his poems; it suggests X, is reminiscent of Y, is somewhat suggestive of Z; it has an expression which is AA-ian or a style of which is BB-ian;it is either an imitation of CC, or CC in one of his worst moments, it possesses the language of degree of feeling of a DD or a EE. All are flat wrong, but, seeing them together, one gets the sense of a pattern, students grasping at associations, driven to associate anonymous poems with authorial names, adjectives, and qualities but lacking the requisite breadth of reading and attendant catalogue of literary names and associations to do so.The scatter-shot approach of protocol 1.19 is typical of the lot: “The passage is reminiscent of the whole effort and accomplishment of the greatest poets, and in a secondary way of passages in Shakespeare, Shelley, Wordsworth, Browning, etc.” 99 Yet, even under the impossibly encompassing blanket of 1.19-the kind of vague reading Richards later describes as putty “bespattering the bull’s-eye”-the protocol-writer resorts, however inappropriately, to hierarchical greatness as a means of attribution. 100 The protocol-writer is faulted for imprecision but not the activity itself.

Significantly, Richards does not count the drive to attribute authorship per se among his ten impediments to criticism. All the same, he lodges erroneous attribution under one or more of the ten depending on the way the protocol botches attribution in each case. Because it is so difficult to pull off, Richards is generally suspicious of those protocols proceeding from alleged resemblances, comparisons, and attributions. In fact, he claims that “only the closest most sensitive reading” can yield successful detection; many such failures originate in irrelevant personal associations, which run roughshod over the “liberty” and “autonomy” of the poem:

Superficial resemblances as may be picked up in cursory reading prove nothing unless we can trace them deeper . . . . Direct comparisons based upon the supposition that poems . . . in the same class (cloud poems, immortal-beauty poems, graveyard poems, sonnets, and so forth. . .) must be alike, can only serve to exhibit stupid reading. As with other associations, the quality of the link (the depth of its grounds in the inner nature and the structure of associated things) is the measure of its relevance. 101

Thus, the rare case, in which attribution is not botched, is a reading practice that Richards can hardly discount. Indeed, he writes, when the protocol connects the anonymous poem with “another poem by the same author,” the association is “likely to be relevant”-not faint praise from Richards at all. He judges three attributions as relevant.

When a text such as Practical Criticism, documenting so many examples of error yet carrying the general proviso that “value cannot be demonstrated except through the communication of what is valuable,” presents its exemplary cases, readers are meant to take notice. 102

Richards lets his few exemplary cases (Russo counts “about 30”) [End Page 27] stand on their own, using them, he says, to “round the discussion off,” as if their mere presentation counters all the deleterious effects of the others. 103 Two protocols in Practical Criticism get the attribution correct, protocol 8.5 and protocol 8.7; one, protocol 5.81, draws authorial associations reasonable enough for Richards to judge the connections relevant:

It runs an appalling risk of sentimentality and yet seems to have escaped all offensiveness: a considerable achievement. It is poignant, but not, I think, of very great value. The accent is familiar. D.H.L.? 104

The striking thing is, that the poet (D.H. Lawrence? or American?) knows quite well that it is so, and does not try to make capital of sentiment. The simplicity and accuracy with which he records his feeling-and the justness of the expression, not pitching the thing up at all-somehow alters [sic] the focus; what might have been merely sentimental becomes valuable-the strength of the underlying feeling becoming apparent through the sincerity and truthfulness of the expression. 105

This is a studied orgasm from ‘Shakespeare-R. Brooke’ complex, as piece 7 from a ‘Marvell-Wordsworth-Drinkwater, etc. stark-simplicity’ complex. Hollow at first reading, resoundingly hollow at second. A sort of thermos vacuum, ‘the very thing’ for a dignified picnic in this sort of Two-Seater sonnet. 106

The three protocols introduce the name of the author to achieve precise effects. In each case, it is used as a specific means of description via critical paraphrase. While 8.5 and 8.7 sniff out traces of the authentic D.H. Lawrence in “The Piano,” a poem, in fact, written by Lawrence, 5.81 uses authors as conceptual abstractions to delimit pseudo literary-emotional states (“complexes”) in poems by other authors, Edna St. Vincent Millay (poem 5) and J.D.C. Pellew (poem 7) respectively. Richards, it seems, can countenance authorial attribution, even when not precisely accurate, if it is grounded in what he recognizes as, “detailed observation of the matter and manner of the poem.” In other words, protocol 5.81, unlike protocol 1.19, recognizes the signs of an insincere selection, and the authors it invokes become instruments to ward off the supposed derivative expression. The protocol writer has, echoing Pound, outfoxed the dealer in false artifacts. 8.5 and 8.7 merit commendation because they also pass the test-not merely for being keyed into Lawrentian qualities nor for confirming the poem’s authenticity of expression, but rather, because they proceed from the assumption that Lawrentian qualities are synonymous with a particular brand of authentic expression.

Following suggestions left in some of Leavis’s remarks and contextual and stylistic clues, MacKillop believes that Leavis and Mansfield Forbes authored these and other exemplary protocols. 107 Ironically, the same combination of imprimaturs, hierarchical associations, and unveiled [End Page 28] anonymity that wins Richards’s approval in Practical Criticism is, in effect, the systematic attribution of the most “superior” protocols to Richards’s most “superior” auditors. Still, as MacKillop observes, the conceptual kinship between these three protocols and the mission of Leavisite criticism cannot be missed:

It was certainly the mission of Leavis as a literary critic to try to ensure that a writer’s originating style was not eclipsed by derivative mixtures . . . . The critic’s endeavor was to protect Wordsworth from Wordsworthian, to beware the stylistic packages that form when an adhesiveness in one style cannot resist appealing to a surface shape in another. Leavis was much concerned with authenticity. He liked to set examination questions challenging candidates to distinguish Shakespeare from Shakespeare-ish (something slightly different from Shakespearean). 108

Distinguishing Shakespeare from Shakespeare-ish or Shakespearean, like ranking the originality of sentiment in Richards’s packets of poems, is an illusory test. The examiner, who is never blind to the distinctions he wishes to test, never confirms them. No amount of surveying will convince Richards to alter his posited hierarchy of value (i.e., his predetermined howlers, middling, and brilliant poems). So, the test-taker “passes” only when he or she has learned to second-guess the test-maker successfully: when he or she has learned that, for Leavis, for example, the merely Shakespearean is less like Shakespeare than Shakespeare himself, and that Shakespeare himself is likely to be the least Shakespearean of all. In the end, Leavis as well as Richards habituate their students and readers to an operative, highly influential notion of predetermined originality, which posits that a poet of profound authorial originality such as Eliot can never be merely Eliotic. To estrange an author from the associations invoked by the author’s name is to mystify originality in a way that at once refers to and yet at the same time is irreducible to the author’s definitive qualities; thus originality becomes a subject of citation rather than discursive exposition, and literary value can be only adjudicated by means of comparisons.
“Downstream Modernism”

If we take as axiomatic John Harwood’s observation that modernism, “in any of the reified versions now deployed in academic debate, did not exist in 1909, or 1922 [but] is an academic invention . . . retrospectively imposed on the works and doctrines it supposedly illuminates,” we must also recognize that these works and doctrines, now understood as modernist, played a historical role in this process. 109 The historical “modernism” had an active stake in producing the conditions for what effectively became its own reification-in becoming, in other words, “High Modernism.” For all its convenience and utility, a more inclusive rubric such as modernisms, a preferred term following Peter Nichols’s decisive work and recent developments such as the annual [End Page 29] New Modernisms conferences of the Modernist Studies Association, tends to obscure this process. The modes of literary criticism fostered and elaborated around the historical modernists-inaugurated by Pound and Eliot, elaborated and carried through by Richards, Leavis, and others during the interwar period-entrenched many of the inured, “modernist” assumptions underlying the practice of literary studies subsequently instituted in British and American universities after the Second World War. Once these assumptions-in particular, the supposed impersonality of critical method and the supposed autonomy of the objects of literary discourse-are viewed in light of work of the literary ideologues who occasioned them, they disclose a profound point of overlap between modernism and mass culture, two systems of cultural value long alleged to be at odds, the point of overlap being where the elite promotion of authorial originality meets with the mass phenomenon of celebrity.

Modernism’s supposed antagonism towards mass culture and mass culture’s supposed indifference to modernism have long been features of-some would say the chief impediments to-the academic invention of modernism. Modernism’s cultural antagonism meets popular indifference, which in turn provokes further antagonisms. The scenes of confrontation are compulsively rehearsed. Modernist cultural producers are said to scorn mass audiences, their preferred cultural forms, their seeming indifference; consumers of popular culture are said to take little notice; and on and on. No doubt, the idea of a “vast venal public,” to borrow Henry James’s phrase, passive consumers of popular culture with slavishly homogenized tastes, is as misleading as the idea of a hermetic cadre of modernist producers immune to the exigencies of the mass marketplace and the ubiquity of its commodities. Increasingly, scholars have begun to trouble this narrative. Works such as Andreas Huyssen’s After the Great Divide, Michael C. Fitzgerald’s Making Modernism, Joyce Piell Wexler’s Who Paid for Modernism?, Lawrence Rainey’s Institutions of Modernism, Jennifer Wicke’s Advertising Fictions, many of the essays collected in Kevin Dettmar and Stephen Watt’s Marketing Modernisms, as well as numerous single author studies have gone a long way toward complicating criticism’s overinvestment in what is, finally, one of modernism’s own favorite mythologies about aesthetic agency. As much of this criticism argues, modernism-for all its seeming distaste for consumer culture and capitalism more broadly-made selective use of popular forms and had its own popular ambitions. 110

Nevertheless, for good materialist reasons, certain core elements of the antagonistic explanation cannot be simply discarded. Beneath the circular narrative replayed above lies two problematics, one concerning elite production, the other, popular consumption. During a historical period when the institutions and techniques of mass consumption [End Page 30] became culturally preëminent, modernist production was decidedly-if not deliberately-small-scale, seemingly disinterested in the mode and means of consumption. For all the explanatory deficiencies of a monolithic narrative of antagonism, the difference in scale between modernist production and popular cultural consumption remains an unavoidable framework, helping to account for the anxious freighting of mass culture in modernist artistic culture. These and other explanatory difficulties give rise to a misleading tendency to explain high culture almost exclusively as a phenomenon of production while simultaneously treating mass culture almost exclusively as a phenomenon of consumption.

One need not wade too far into the discourses of mass culture before noticing that, in contrast to modernism’s literary economists, the producers of mass culture, wherever they may be, are, as a rule, fetishists of consumption. (Before even stepping into a McDonald’s, customers are well-versed in how to line up at the register, how to order, how products will look on trays at the counter and on trays at their seats, how unwrapping them will sound, how holding them will feel, and, when mealtime is over, where they will stow their empty trays and throw their waste.) Like advertising, critical discourse about mass culture tends to focus on the habits of consumption, deliberately oblivious to the forces of production at work behind the curtains. If producers of mass culture are to be believed they hardly exist; as Lord Northcliffe, the founder of the Daily Mail, famously put it, they simply give readers, audiences, consumers “what they want.” As early as 1932, the American critic Gilbert Seldes-the same Seldes who was the managing editor of The Dial when it brought out The Waste Land-rebuked old-world advertisers for their neglect of consumers, enjoining them to join their stateside counterparts in aiming their strategies squarely on consumption. 111 Later, he urged advertisers to enlist the services of professional critics, formerly at the service of the highbrow, to perfect their methods. “I am a professional in the most important branch of the advertising business,” he wrote in 1954, “which is, of course, the receiving end. I have read more ads and listened to more commercials than any copy writer has composed.” 112 Any given person with access to newspapers, radio, and television has consumed exponentially more advertising than any given copy writer has produced; Seldes’s point is that the critic, alone among the rank and file, brings professional credentials to the experience.

As Seldes’s appeal to advertisers seems to intuit, cultural criticism in all forms ministers to consumption. Rather than fetishizing the act of consumption in itself for itself, however, the literary economics of “highbrow” modernist criticism serve to promote consumption only by exalting aesthetic production. Thus it cultivates taste for a rarified commodity, which is not only difficult to consume but even difficult [End Page 31] to obtain. The effort required to access modernist texts makes consumption a secondary event to hearing about production. As this notion of production is mystified, it becomes generative, subject to copious elaboration, presented in sites “upstream” and “downstream” with respect to the producer. With reference to Eliot’s The Waste Land, for example, “upstream” sites include the work of composition, editing, and collaboration, whereas “downstream” sites include efforts to place the poem, various editions, the Dial prize, and the kind of public sites we have examined: the criticism, reviewing, commentary, promotion, [End Page 32] enthusiastic bewilderment, and irritation that the modernist work occasions. Whatever the orientation to the source, these discursive modes do not, pace Seldes, take up the search for places and means of consumption-potential uses, audiences, or readers. Nevertheless, despite the apparent distaste for the open literary marketplace, they enact nothing if not a decidedly capitalist response to the proliferation [End Page 33] of cultural material. It is a response that, in order to bolster value, seeks to maintain the meticulous scarcity of commodities; that is to say, it is the response of the monopolist. 113

In the domain of mass culture, only celebrities provide an analogous case. The same way modernists and modernism’s literary economists fetishize authorship, celebrities and their publicists fetishize the production of self. The rhetoric of both insists on alleged indifference to consumption, studied insensitivity to existing tastes of consumers, readers, audiences, and publics. Yet both presume a notion of production that cannot be confined to a single productive source but that instead measures production in terms of both the circulation and the relative valuation of its commodities. In both cases, these are its brand names. The differences between one and the other should be measured in scale not technique nor ambition. In 1920, when Pound worked as the London correspondent for the Dial, he fashioned a letterhead that includes a long list of names, including himself, Joyce, Eliot, H.D., Wyndham Lewis, Ford Madox Hueffer, Mina Loy, Proust, Remy de Gourmont and 24 other prominent modernists. From these names, the letterhead states, the Dial has received “either acceptable manuscript or promises of collaboration.” 114 On the 30th of July, Pound used this stationary to tell Hugh Walpole off: if Walpole wanted to see his submission published in the Dial, Pound wrote, he had better revise it to make more suitable company for the column of illustrious names billed opposite (see Figure 2). By the early thirties, Pound achieved the same effects with a letterhead consisting only of a logotype of his own head by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (see Figure 3). 115

Aaron Jaffe is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Louisville. He has completed a manuscript entitled High Regard: The Work of Modernism in an Age of Celebrity, a study of the poetics and cultural politics of modernist reputation, and is planning a book on literary cosmopolitanism, engagement, and obsolescence.

1. Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast (New York: Scribner’s, 1964), 134.

2. Ezra Pound, The Spirit of Romance (London: J.M. Dent, 1910), 208.

3. From Canto XLV, The Cantos of Ezra Pound (New York: New Directions, 1989), 229.

4. Pound, Spirit, 105.

5. Pound, ABC of Reading (1934) (New York: New Directions, 1987), 22-3.

6. Pound, The Guide to Kulchur (New York: New Directions, 1970).

7. Robert Nichols, “Poetry and Mr. Pound” (1920), Ezra Pound: The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972), 165-7.

8. J.A. Simpson and E.S.C. Weiner, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed, Vol. 7 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 134.

9. Ibid., Vol. 15, 571.

10. Ibid., Vol. 12, 248.

11. John Mortimer, “William Shakeshafte, international man of mystery,” The Observer Review (14 November 1999): 13.

12. There are, of course, conspicuous omissions, authorial adjectives the editors of the OED neglected to notice.

13. T.S. Eliot, After Strange Gods: A Primer of Modern Heresy (London: Faber & Faber, 1934), 23.

14. C.K. Ogden, “James Joyce’s Anna Livia Plurabelle,” transition 18 (March 1932): 259.

15. For some family resemblances between BASIC and recent ideas about World Englishes, see David Simpson, “Prospects for Global English: Back to BASIC?” Yale Journal of Criticism 11.1 (Spring 1998): 301-07. [End Page 34]

16. Ogden, Basic English: A General Introduction with Rules and Grammar (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1936), 7-8.

17. Ogden, Basic, 7-8.

18. See Bernard Crick, notes to Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell (Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1984), 430.

19. Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, 201.

20. John Paul Russo, I.A. Richards: His Life and Work (London: Routledge, 1989), 397.

21. Russo, I.A. Richards, 401-3; Crick, Nineteen Eighty-Four, 430.

22. Pound, “Debabelization and Ogden,” The New English Weekly (28 February 1935): 411.

23. Pound, “How to Read” (1927-8), Literary Essays of Ezra Pound (New York: New Directions, 1968), 23.

24. There is reason to believe that Pound did not think Joyce-at least “Work in Progress” Joyce-survived translation into Basic. See Pound’s letter to Ogden on 28 January 1935 in which he scolds Ogden for sending him Basic samples, “a mass of light licherachoor” including “Anna havva banYana,” rather than hardcore Basic theory. The Letters of Ezra Pound, 1907-1941, ed. D.D. Paige (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1950), 265.

25. Pound, ABC, 13.

26. For example, see Hugh Kenner, The Poetry of Ezra Pound (1951) (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1985), 11.

27. Pound, “A Few Don’ts,” Literary Essays of Ezra Pound,ed. T.S. Eliot (London: Faber & Faber, 1954), 4-5.

28. Ibid.

29. Ibid.

30. Balachandra Rajan, “T.S. Eliot,” The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism, eds. Michael Groden and Marton Kreiswirth (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univeristy Press, 1994), 222.

31. Pound, “A Few Don’ts,” 12.

32. Pound, “On Criticism in General,” The Criterion 1.2 (January 1923): 143.

33. Pound, Spirit, 8.

34. Pound, “On Criticism,” 147-8.

35. Pound, ABC, 39-40.

36. Pound, “On Criticism,” 148.

37. Pound, “How to Read” (1927-8), Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, ed. T.S. Eliot (London: Faber & Faber, 1954), 23.

38. Ibid.

39. See Pound’s “Prefatory Note” to The Complete Poetical Works of T.E. Hulme, both appended to the end of Ripostes (1912) in Collected Shorter Poems, 2nd ed. (London: Faber and Faber, 1968), 268.

40. Pound, ABC, 9, 84. By 1934, the categories were (1) “inventors,” (2) “masters,” (3) “diluters,” (4) “good writers without salient qualities,” (5) “writers of belle-lettres,” and (6) “starters of crazes” (39-40).

41. Eliot, The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism (1920) (London: Methuen, 1960), 104.

42. Pound, ABC, 45.

43. “Tradition and the Individual Talent” (1919), Selected Prose of T.S. Eliot, ed. Frank Kermode (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1975), 49.

44. Ibid., 50.

45. F.R. Leavis, How to Teach Reading: A Primer for Ezra Pound (Cambridge, UK: Minority, 1932), 1.

46. Ibid., 2-3.

47. Eliot, “Tradition,” 49.

48. Kenner, Poetry, 28-9.

49. The Oxford Magazine (24 January 1929): 318-9.

50. Leonard Woolf, Letters of Leonard Woolf, ed. Frederic Spotts (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1989), 230-1.

51. Lawrence Rainey, Institutions of Modernism: Literary Elites and Public Culture (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998), 106. For an extended discussion of Rainey’s work see my review essay, “Modernism is Ordinary,” forthcoming in Key Words: A Journal of Cultural Materialism (2003). [End Page 35]

52. The Dial 73.4 (October 1922): xxviii.

53. On the prohibitively high price of the first edition of Ulysses, see Rainey, 42-76.

54. Ian MacKillop, F.R. Leavis: A Life in Criticism (London: Penguin, 1997), 89. For an account of this interesting episode in the suppression of criticism see MacKillop, 88-91.

55. Michael Arlen, The Green Hat (London: Collins, 1924), 22.

56. Ibid., 24.

57. Rainey, Institutions, 101.

58. Ibid., 100-2.

59. “Comment” The Dial 73.6 (December 1922): 685-6.

60. Harold Acton, Memoirs of an Aesthete (London: Methuen, 1948), 99. On the influence of Acton and the circle of Etonians during Waugh’s stay at Oxford see Martin Stannard, Evelyn Waugh: The Early Years, 1903-1939 (New York: Norton, 1986), 67-96. Also see Waugh’s “Isis Idol” piece on Acton in The Isis (20 February 1924): 7.

61. Acton, Memoirs, 147.

62. Anonymous [B.N.], “The Sad Story of the Young Man from M-rt-n,” The Isis (30 April 1919): 6.

63. According to John Betjeman, in 1925, Acton was the “chief Oxford Aesthete.” My Oxford, ed. Ann Thwaite (London: Robson, 1986), 65.

64. Arthur Waugh, “The New Poetry” (1916) in T.S. Eliot: The Critical Heritage, ed. Michael Grant, Vol. 1. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982), 68. Arthur Waugh was the father of Evelyn and Alec, both Oxonians. Evelyn was one of Acton’s chief co-conspirators. Theirs was a family business, for Arthur Waugh was himself a prominent man of letters. These “co-incidences” not only place cubism and Eliot in the same timeframe; they also place them in the same circles, that is, the homes of Oxford-bound youth.

65. Waugh, “The New Poetry,” 69.

66. Ibid.

67. Ibid.

68. Pound, “Drunken Helots and Mr. Eliot” (1917) in T.S. Eliot: The Critical Heritage, ed. Michael Grant, Vol. 1. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982), 70.

69. Ibid., 71.

70. On the rivalry and differences between Venture and Experiment, see Thomas M. Sawyer, “Experiment” in British Literary Magazines: The Modern Age, 1914-1984, ed. Alvin Sullivan, Vol. 4. (New York: Greenwood, 1986), 177-9.

71. Muriel Bradbrook, My Cambridge, ed. Ronald Hayman (London: Robson Books, 1977), 42.

72. Ibid.

73. Among Bradbrook’s subsequent work on Eliot, her British Council pamphlet for the “Writers and Their Work” series is particularly interesting for re-cathecting Mr. Heliot’s “juvenile naughtiness.” See especially her T.S. Eliot (London: Longmans, Green, 1950), 11, 17.

74. Christopher Isherwood, Lions and Shadows: An Education in the Twenties (London: Hogarth, 1938), 121.

75. See Malcolm Cowley, Exile’s Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920’s (1934) (London: Bodley Head, 1961), 21-2.

76. See James Tetreault, “Parallel Lines: C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot.” Renascence 38.4 (1986): 258.

77. Leavis, “Approaches to T.S. Eliot,” The Common Pursuit (London: Chatto and Windus, 1952), 279.

78. Bradbrook, My Cambridge, 42.

79. See Bradbrook, “I.A. Richards at Cambridge” in I.A. Richards: Essays in His Honor, eds. Reuben Brower, Helen Vendler, and John Hollander (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), 61-72.

80. I.A. Richards, Practical Criticism: A Study in Literary Judgment (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1929), 367.

81. MacKillop, F.R. Leavis, 102; F.L. Lucas, “Review” (1923) in T.S. Eliot: The Critical Heritage, 198-9.

82. Lucas, “Review,” 199.

83. MacKillop, F.R. Leavis, 102. [End Page 36]

84. Lucas, “Review,” 199.

85. Richards, “Mr. Eliot’s Poems” (1926) in T.S. Eliot: The Critical Heritage, 235.

86. MacKillop, F.R. Leavis, 103.

87. Leavis, “T.S. Eliot-A Reply to the Condescending,” Cambridge Review 50 (8 February 1929): 254.

88. Ibid.

89. Ibid.

90. For Leavis on Sitwellism, see, among other publications, New Bearings in English Poetry: A Study of the Contemporary Situation (1932) (London: Penguin, 1982), 58, and For Continuity (Cambridge, UK: Minority, 1933), 16.

91. Leavis, New Bearings, 60.

92. Leavis, New Bearings, 156.

93. Richards, Practical Criticism, 3.

94. Ibid., 4-5. M.C. Bradbrook, William Empson, Christopher Isherwood, Edward Upward, T.H. White, Joan Bennett, John Blackie, Francis Partridge and L.C. Knights were all students of Richards. See MacKillop, F.R. Leavis, 75, and Russo, I.A. Richards, 708-9, 750.

95. Richards, Practical Criticism, 6.

96. Ibid., v.

97. Ibid., viii.

98. It is hardly surprising that a method, which subsequently became part of standard English examination practice at Cambridge and beyond, was first envisioned as a test of reading proficiency, “a good examination for English students to print five extracts of poetry and prose, with no clues as to the author or date, and containing one really worthless piece-and ask for comment and opinion.” See Russo, I.A. Richards, 294.

99. Richards, Practical Criticism, 26.

100. Ibid., 257.

101. Ibid., 238.

102. Ibid., 12.

103. Ibid., 299, 89.

104. Ibid., 113.

105. Ibid., 115-6.

106. Ibid., 79.

107. MacKillop, F.R. Leavis, 74-8.

108. Ibid., 76.

109. John Harwood, Eliot to Derrida: The Poverty of Interpretation (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1995), 13.

110. The use that consumer culture found in modernist innovation-as in the field of advertising, for example-involves a different set of questions, perhaps.

111. Michael Kammen, The Lively Arts: Gilbert Seldes and the Transformation of Culture Criticism in the U.S (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 356-7.

112. Qtd. in Kammen, Gilbert Seldes, 357.

113. Cf. Rainey, Institutions, 72-6.

114. David Farmer, “Ezra Pound: An Exhibition,” Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, March 1967 (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1967), 27.

115. Ibid., 35. Many, including Humphrey Carpenter and Peter Ackroyd, have noted the iconic character of Pound’s very signature, seeing even here traces of Gaudier-Brezeka’s Pound logotype. Peter Ackroyd, Ezra Pound (London: Thames and Hudson, 1980),

Carroll F. Terrell Obit

December 27, 2008

Carroll F. Terrell founder of the Ezra Pound journal ‘Paideuma’

Wednesday, 3 December 2003

Within less than a week Poundians have lost two of their most prolific fellow workers: on 24 November the author of The Pound Era (1971), Hugh Kenner, and on 29 November Carroll F. Terrell, founder of the Pound journal Paideuma and compiler of the two-volume A Companion to the Cantos of Ezra Pound (1980).

Carroll Franklin Terrell, teacher, editor and publisher: born Richmond, Maine 17 February 1917; instructor, then Professor of English, University of Maine at Orono 1948-82, part-time 1982-88 (Professor Emeritus); Editor, Paideuma 1972-98; died Orono, Maine 29 November 2003.

Within less than a week Poundians have lost two of their most prolific fellow workers: on 24 November the author of The Pound Era (1971), Hugh Kenner, and on 29 November Carroll F. Terrell, founder of the Pound journal Paideuma and compiler of the two-volume A Companion to the Cantos of Ezra Pound (1980).

In the 1970s and 1980s Terry, as we all called him, was a regular attender at the British Ezra Pound Conferences, which were started in 1976 by Philip Grover of Sheffield University. Unlike ordinary academics, Terry delighted in abrupt, provocative revelations such as “I used to hate that guy in Washington!” and “The Cantos is the greatest religious poem of all time”.

When I was invited to teach summer school at his institution in Maine in 1977, I was privileged to be able to watch Carroll Terrell hard at work on his Cantos companion, writing furiously in longhand on those lined yellow sheets and pulling book after book from the trolleys surrounding him. Though the Companion is not perfect, it is a magnificent monument to Terrell’s demonic energy and dedication.

Carroll Franklin Terrell was born in 1917 in Richmond, Maine. His father was a shoe cutter and part-time farmer, his mother a schoolteacher. He lovingly recalled his youth in Growing Up Kennebec: a downeast boyhood (1993), a marvellous read which nevertheless has a few touches of the Gothic which brought fame to that other Mainer, Stephen King, who was a student in Terrell’s department and now gives financial support to his creation, the National Poetry Foundation. (In 1990 Terrell was the author of a book about his pupil, Stephen King: man and artist.)

After graduating from Bowdoin College, the Alma Mater of Longfellow and Hawthorne, in 1940, Terrell served in the armed forces from 1941 to 1946, becoming an aide-de-camp to Major-General Edwin Forrest Harding, a stickler for punctuality who seems to have taught him everything about efficiency, as evidenced in the conferences he organised at Orono – always with a Maine lobster dinner.

Having received an MA from the University of Maine in 1950, Terrell gained a PhD from New York University for a dissertation on T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. His examiner was another Poundian, M.L. Rosenthal, who was apparently overwhelmed by the plethora of footnotes. In the 1960s Terrell’s interest shifted increasingly to Ezra Pound, which led in 1971 to his nominating Pound for an honorary Doctor of Literature degree; this was turned down by the Board of Trustees of the University of Maine when Pound had already agreed to travel to the US to accept it.

Pound was still alive when the first issue of Paideuma: a journal devoted to Ezra Pound scholarship came out (dated Spring and Summer 1972), but the second left the printers just after his death. Apart from conference papers and reports the journal has published items, including pictures, on every imaginable aspect of Pound’s world, so no Pound scholar can afford to ignore it.

Terrell’s publishing activities also include the launching in 1982 of Sagetrieb: a journal devoted to poets in the Pound-Williams tradition and two collections of books, the Man/Woman and Poet series (in which he edited Louis Zukofsky: man and poet, 1979, Basil Bunting: man and poet, 1980, and William Carlos Williams: man and poet, 1983) and the Ezra Pound Scholarship series. Finally, when he moved into the house designed for him by his friend and landlord Richard Hill, he brought out books under the imprint Northern Lights, including his childhood memoir and his collected Pound essays, Ideas in Reaction: byways to the Pound arcana (1991).

Though he held on to the editorship of Paideuma until 1998, Terrell’s legendary energy had started to leave him a few years before. To see him just sitting there, maybe doing a crossword, was an unbearable sight to me, but then, as his beloved Ezra Pound once wrote (Canto 113), “No man can see his own end.”

Walter Baumann