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The Modernist Response to Chinese Art

Pound, Moore, Stevens
Zhaoming Qian

BUY Paper · ISBN 9780813921761 · $25.00 · Mar 2003

What role did Chinese art play in the poetic development of Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, and Wallace Stevens? How could they share Chinese artists’ Dao, an aesthetic held to be beyond verbal representation? In this sequel to his critically acclaimed study Orientalism and Modernism, Zhaoming Qian investigates the ways in which these three modernist poets received Chinese artistic notions and assimilated them into their literary masterpieces. With forty rare and previously unpublished photographs presented with accompanying analysis, this study reconstructs the three poets’ dialogue with the Chinese masters.

In addition to examining Canto 49, "Nine Nectarines," and "Six Significant Landscapes," by Pound, Moore, and Stevens, respectively, Qian provides indispensable historical and cultural material never before recorded in a single work. The Modernist Response to Chinese Art pays long-overdue attention to the role of several early collections of Chinese art in England and America; it clarifies some common misconceptions about Confucianism and Daoism; it identifies in the modernist poets both linkage to and revolt against their predecessors’—and peers’—hegemonic Orientalism; and it intensifies awareness of modernist Orientalism not as a monolithic and constant conception but as a slippery and shifting process.


[Qian's goal] to establish the plural grounds of impressively achieved through ample and meticulously researched biographical details, accounts of gallery and museum exhibitions in America and England, and summaries of Chinese spiritual and aesthetic traditions.. Impediments to interart studies seem to be lifting finally where poetry is concerned, and Zhaoming Qian's book is a strong contribution in this direction..

The Wallace Stevens Journal

[A] richly illustrated and convincingly argued book.. Qian has opened wide the gates of understanding and appreciation to a subject few had the linguistic and cultural background to explain. Highly recommended.


Qian's book is both impressively erudite and highly readable, sustained by lucid writing, insightful perceptions, and cogent arguments. By exploring a hitherto overlooked subject, his inquiry makes significant contributions to several fields, including modernist poetry, comparative literature, and transnational cultural production. More intriguingly, it also raises issues impelling us to reconceptualize the enterprise of orientalism.

Twentieth Century Literature

About the Author(s): 

Zhaoming Qian, Professor of English at the University of New Orleans, is the author of Orientalism and Modernism: The Legacy of China in Pound and Williams and the editor of Ezra Pound and China.

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