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East-West Exchange and Late Modernism

Williams, Moore, Pound
Zhaoming Qian

BUY Paper · 208 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813940670 · $29.50 · Nov 2017
BUY Cloth · 208 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813940663 · $70.00 · Nov 2017
BUY Ebook · 208 pp. · ISBN 9780813940687 · $29.50 · Nov 2017

In East-West Exchange and Late Modernism, Zhaoming Qian examines the nature and extent of Asian influence on some of the literary masterpieces of Western late modernism. Focusing on the poets William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, and Ezra Pound, Qian relates captivating stories about their interactions with Chinese artists and scholars and shows how these cross-cultural encounters helped ignite a return to their early experimental modes. Qian’s sinuous readings of the three modernists’ last books of verse—Williams’s Pictures from Brueghel (1962), Moore’s Tell Me, Tell Me (1966), and Pound’s Drafts and Fragments of Cantos CX-CXVII (1969)—expand our understanding of late modernism by bringing into focus its heightened attention to meaning in space, its obsession with imaginative sensibility, and its increased respect for harmony between humanity and nature.


This is an outstanding book by an excellent scholar-critic that breaks genuinely new ground and is also a real detective story. Makes for very absorbing reading.

Marjorie Perloff, Stanford University and the University of Southern California

The meticulous scholarly labors of Zhaoming Qian’s new book, East-West Exchange and Late Modernism, reveal how the late volumes of writers such as Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, and W.C. Williams were shaped by the dialogues they shared with the interesting characters in their daily lives. These dialogues had powerful and formative effects on each poet as they explored new strategies to rejuvenate their verse, and Qian’s careful, dynamic scholarship generates exciting narrative and an intense spirit of formal discovery.

Charles F. Altieri, University of California, Berkeley

Qian takes the somewhat unusual tack of arguing—successfully—that William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, and Ezra Pound’s interactions with Asian literature, triggered by interpersonal contact with Chinese figures, enjoyed a late florescence in the post-modern period after World War Two.

George Bornstein, University of Michigan

Zhaoming Qian, a dominant figure in the field of Modernism and China, documentssimilar cases of cross-cultural correspondences in his newest contribution, The East - WestExchange and Late Modernism. The book delivers captivating anecdotes of how William CarlosWilliams, Marianne Moore and Ezra Pound collaborated with their Chinese friends on theirpoetic projects.

Kent Su - University College London

Qjan's work is an impressive achievement in both old-fashioned biographical criticism, and in new-fangledekphrastic inter-arts analysis: he presents detailed biographical details in a deft and canny comparative exegesis. The result is fascinating, provocative, and cogent. His thesis is that, while Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore,and Wallace Stevens may have been effectively ignorant of Chinese, they nevertheless absorbed a Chinese aesthetic by viewing and studying carefully the Chinese art that was on exhibit in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia in the early decades of the twentieth century...It is no exaggeration to say that this book firmly establishes the basis for the Chinese influence on American modernism...[A]n admirable piece of scholarship...that should be essential reading not only for students of East-West literary relations, but also for every student of modernism, particularly in its American guise.

Eugene Chen Eoyang · Comparative Literature Studies

From Orientalism and Modernism: The Legacy of China in Pound and Williams (1995) to East-West Exchange and Late Modernism, Qian himself has observed interactions between west and east—"the culture from which [he] came"—for decades. Rather than deciding on one or the other culture’s superiority, Qian’s focus has always been on the complexities of exchange.


East-West Exchange and Late Modernism will appeal to those interestedin biographical criticism and will enrich discussions of how each poet’slate work is part of the global comparative network. In particular, Qianenhances criticism of Moore because he includes his most notable archivalfind—the complete transcript of Moore’s lecture and poetry reading basedon the recording at Mills College, Oakland, California, on October 16, 1957.Furthermore, the book can serve as a starting point for larger questions ofappropriation and cultural influence.

Comparative Literature Studies

Zhaoming Qian has long been a gift to English-language scholarship on the formativeinfluence of Far Eastern aesthetics upon Anglophone poetry and poetics of the highmodernist period.... Qian’s indefatigable archival scholarship over many years makes his work asignal model of that finely developed historical sense that T. S. Eliot considered essentialto serious poets and critics. No scholar has done more to illuminate the treasures ofChinese art, thought, and friendship, ancient and contemporary, that inspired theseanglophone modernist artists.

American Literary History

About the Author(s): 

Zhaoming Qian is the Qiantang Professor of Comparative Literature at Hangzhou Normal University and the Chancellor’s Research Professor Emeritus of English at the University of New Orleans. He is the author of The Modernist Response to Chinese Art (Virginia), among other works.

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