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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.63, No.2, 181 ~ 200, 2017
Mechanical Pound
Ira Nadel
The importance of Ezra Pound`s shift to a machine poetics and how it reflected larger adjustments in early 20th century aesthetics, incorporating art, music and machinery, is the focus of this essay. With specific examples ranging from the paintings of Leger to the industrial photographs of Paul Strand and the music of George Antheil, as well as The Cantos, the importance of a new mechanical praxis for Pound emerges. More precisely, the essay analyzes the appeal of the mechanical for Pound during a critical period in his poetic development and how this shift was prepared, first, by the adaptation of the mechanical to the compositional nature of painting, movement in dance and performance in music. Photography also contributed to the new mechanical aesthetic which for Pound meant a greater focus on precision and efficiency which he had been promoting since his study of such classical writers as Horace and Propertius and expressed in works like Mauberley. The ideas of the Futurists also play an important role in Pound`s acceptance of the new mechanical approach to art. His critical writing from ca. 1929-1934 further confirms his attraction to a machine aesthetic.
Key Words
Pound, Leger, Antheil, Paul Strand, “Machine Art”
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