Orientalism, Modernism, and the American Poem (Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture)

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9780521496131: Orientalism, Modernism, and the American Poem (Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture)
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Orientalism, Modernism, and the American Poem is a critical and historical interpretation of "Oriental" influences on American modernist poetry. Kern equates Fenollosa and Pound's "discovery" of Chinese writing with the American pursuit of a natural language for poetry, what Emerson had termed the "language of nature." Through analysis and contextualization, Kern sheds light on the three contemporary nexuses of his search: the cultural study of Orientalism and the West, the evolution of Indo-European linguistic theory, and the intellectual tradition of American modernist poetry.

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Orientalism, Modernism, and the American Poem is a critical and historical interpretation of "Oriental" influences on American modernist poetry. Kern equates Fenollosa and Pound's "discovery" of Chinese writing with the American pursuit of a natural language for poetry; what Emerson had termed the "language of nature". This language of nature is here shown to be a mythic conception continuous with the Renaissance idea of the language of Adam - a language in which things themselves are also signs. Analyzing and contextualizing the nineteenth-century works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Ernest Fenollosa and the twentieth-century creations of Ezra Pound and Gary Snyder, Kern sheds light on the three contemporary nexuses of his search: the cultural study of Orientalism and the West, the evolution of Indo-European linguistic theory, and the intellectual tradition of American modernist poetry.

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"...kern does provide an excellent discussion of Western perceptions of poetry and languages over the past three centuries...Kern has certainly provided an excellent basis for further study." Colin A. Clarke, American Studies International

"...a valuable contribution to modernist scholarship." Paideuma

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