Poet in Exile. Noel Stock. Manchester, 32s. 6d.
The main interest of Stock’s book on Ezra Pound is that Stock is himself a disenchanted Poundian in his ideology: his work is thus something of an immanent critique. He reveals how Pound’s ideas do hang together in a curious way—most of them are accretions on a few motor ideas. But Pound then goes on to try and weld these accretions into a coherent and systematic whole: to do this he had to develop extraordinary blindness to obvious inconsistencies. Stock refused to accept this blindness as initiation into a mystery and began, stumblingly at first, to recant. But he still has great sympathy towards Pound. He shows how, for Pound, history has been a long struggle between producers, close to the land and to natural mysteries, and usurers, constantly undermining natural values by debasing the coinage, making profits from non-productive activities, etc. Eventually production comes to be embarked on solely for money and not for use. Pound blames all this on a conspiracy of money-lenders and bankers. He calls for a return to a form of society in which all producers are close to natural raw materials and production is regulated by a cultured aristocracy. Stock describes how Pound’s evangelical fervour got the better of his judgement. In the most interesting passage in the book, he shows the close connection between Pound’s interpretation of Fenollosa’s views on literary style and his method of studying history: the axioms which governed form and content. Pound claimed that the Chinese ideogram for Red consisted of the juxtaposition of the signs for Cherry, Rose, Sunset, Iron Rust, Flamingo: this ‘imagistic’ heaping up of data was to serve Pound as ‘scientific’ thought as well as good literary style. Stock’s book contains a number of interesting insights, but he is himself still too confused to grapple properly with Pound, hardly surprisingly after such a tutelage. Nonetheless, a key work on a major poet.l.r.