Orientalism, Modernism, and the American Poem by Robert Kern PDF

By Robert Kern

ISBN-10: 0521105552

ISBN-13: 9780521105552

Orientalism, Modernism, and the yank Poem is a serious and ancient interpretation of "Oriental" impacts on American modernist poetry. Kern equates Fenollosa and Pound's "discovery" of chinese language writing with the yank pursuit of a traditional language for poetry, what Emerson had termed the "language of nature." via research and contextualization, Kern sheds gentle at the 3 modern nexuses of his seek: the cultural examine of Orientalism and the West, the evolution of Indo-European linguistic conception, and the highbrow culture of yankee modernist poetry.

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Additional info for Orientalism, Modernism, and the American Poem

Example text

Thus "windy fire," at the end, refers both to what is immediately present to the poet and to the cosmic source of fire beyond Deneb and Altair. 55 It is also a means of approaching, if not quite approximating, the language of nature, based on the assumption in Sampson Reed, for instance, that the speech of things, so to speak, has been drowned out by human speech or conventional language. The less we say, in this conception, the greater our chance becomes of hearing nature's voice. Emerson calls for a similarly ascetic procedure for the renewal of our understanding of the language of nature: A life in harmony with nature, the love of truth and of virtue, will purge the eyes to understand her text.

In a 1784 text called A Rhetorical Grammar of the English Language, for example, William Kenrick is indifferent to the idea of language as a divine gift and insists instead upon considering it as "an art, which has gradually improved, from the rudest efforts of simple nature, to its present degree of artificial perfection" (quoted in Sensible Words, 123-4). What Trench describes, by contrast, in addition to the power of the poet as Emerson's original namer of things, is the same process of growth and change that Kenrick praises, except that now it leads not to perfection but to the trite, the ordinary, and the commonplace.

Of particular languages" become objects of interest rather than condemnation (79). Thus it is "not the perfection of language but the needs of its users" (89) that now claim the attention of linguists. John Fell, writing in 1784 in his Essay Towards an English Grammar, insists that "the business of a grammarian" is "to find out, and not to make, the laws of a language" (95). Marshman adopts a similar stance when he approaches Chinese in a spirit not of judgment but of objective inquiry and accurate description.

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Orientalism, Modernism, and the American Poem by Robert Kern

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