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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Richard Read <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 15 Mar 2000 14:38:40 -0800
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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
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I am wondering if the list can come to my assistance again as it so
helpfully has done before. Is there any evidence to suggest that Pound ever
regarded allegory in a positive light? I am thinking of Lawrence S.
Rainey's excellent thesis in EZRA POUND AND THE MONUMENT OF CULTURE (U. of
Chicago, 1991) concerning Pound's determination against historical evidence
available from Soranzo to regard the S/I emblems in their sense of the
first two letters of Sigismondo's name as protective cloaks standing for
their secret meaning as supposed commemorations of Sigismondo's love for
Isotta (their respective initials interlaced). Pound follows older
scholarship, according to Rainey, in regarding the second meaning as a
secret intended only for his supporters. (I see that this older meaning is
resurrected with historical justification I am not qualified to judge in
Maria Grazia Pernis and Laurie Schneider Adams, FEDERICO DA MONTEFELTRO AND
strikes me that Pound's determination shows awareness of the tradition
stemming from Francis Bacon and very much alive in nineteenth-century
studies in comparative mythology regarding allegories:
'Concerning human wisdom, I do indeed ingenuously and freely confess that I
am inclined to imagine that under some of the ancient fictions lay couched
certain mysteries and allegories even from their first invention. And I am
persuaded . . . that no man can constantly deny but this sense was in the
authors' intent and meaning when they first invented them, and that they
purposely shadowed it in this sort.'
If one attends to allegorical meaning as residing underneath rather than on
the surface then one would be near to Ruskin's triadic notion of myth as
having a meaning eternally and beneficently true beneath its shifting
natural and historical meanings, though this shades into 'symbols'. One
would perhaps normally think of Pound as being on the side of natural
rather than conventional signs (as in the Fenellosa materials or the
honorific contrast of Cavalcanti's imagery with Petrach's detachable
ornament in the 1928 'Cavalcanti' essay) and to be opposed, largely, to the
deadness of Victorian allegory, but does he ever honour the latter, or show
great understanding of the function of allegory in Renaissance art and
literature? What is the latest verdict, for example, of his interest in the
Tura frescoes at Ferrara?
Richard Read.
Dr Richard Read                            Email [log in to unmask]
Senior Lecturer
School of Architecture and Fine Arts
The University of Western Australia
Nedlands WA 6009                        Tel +61 8 9380 2140
Australia                               Fax 8 9380 1082