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ABC of Reading

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  1,064 ratings  ·  80 reviews
This important work, first published in 1934, is a concise statement of Pound’s aesthetic theory. With characteristic vigor and iconoclasm, Pound illustrates his precepts with exhibits meticulously chosen from the classics, and the concluding “Treatise on Meter” provides an illuminating essay for anyone aspiring to read and write poetry. The ABC of Reading emphasizes Pound ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 17th 1960 by New Directions (first published 1934)
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ABC of Reading by Ezra PoundThe Analects Of Confucius by ConfuciusThe Hermaphrodite by Antonio BeccadelliCatullus. Tibullus. Pervigilium Veneris by CatullusThe Voice That is Great Within Us by Hayden Carruth
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Mariel
Jun 11, 2013 Mariel rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: barometers and wind-gauges
Recommended to Mariel by: pexa et hirsuta
Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.


I don't know what the hell I'm doing. This was something I started to read in the bookstore because I happened to pick it up. I had been looking for something else. Mostly I didn't want to go home that day and I had read quite a bit of it already. So after reading most of it in the store (jumping around here and there, pulling on my ear reflexively) I may as well have bought it. So I bought it. Cha-ching.

Ther
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Hadrian
A passionate, rambling introduction to poetry. One easily imagines Pound as a manic tenured professor, standing on top of his desk, and haranguing the students to follow his lead, but remain independent and critical lovers of poetry.

His standards are maddening. One must learn several languages in order to begin. French, Italian, Latin, have a grasp of Chinese. One must read so many contemporaries. He also includes a massive reading list and some exercises at the end. (e.g. Let the pupil write a
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eric j
At the outset, it's important to note that Mr. Pound offers ABC of Reading as a "text-book that can also be read 'for pleasure as well as profit' by those no longer in school; by those who have not been to school; or by those who in their college days suffered those things which most of my own generation suffered".

We're all duly welcomed to Mr. Pound's class. However, once the door is shut, he throws gut-bucket criticism at snobbishness, poor preparation, and laziness -- especially targeting the
...more
Melissa
Feb 08, 2008 Melissa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Melissa by: Andy, Rick
Shelves: non-fiction
Classic. I kind of love how it feels like he's yelling at you, with his fondness for caps and italics. Much wisdom and strong opinion to be found here; makes me want to work hard, read Homer in ancient Greek, etc.

"Music rots when it gets too far from the dance. Poetry atrophies when it gets too far from music.

There are three kinds of melopoeia, that is, verse made to sing; to chant or intone; and to speak.
The older one gets the more one believes in the first."

"And it is my firm conviction that a
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Pablo
"Anyone who is too lazy to master the comparatively small glossary necessary to understand Chaucer deserves to be shut out from the reading of good books for ever."

Ezra Pound here in an idiosyncratically composed, far-ranging in scope and in an erudite manner enlightens us with his thoughts on literature. But be warned, as with the previous quote, it's in his own stringent way which many times has made him an object of derision and hate, forcing you to decide if to ditch it for his arrogance or
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Frankie
Despite the pretentious name, this is not really a reading guide per se, more of a poetry appreciation guide. Especially for the first few chapters, where he preaches what he considers to be the canon of poetry classics. The final chapters feature a family tree of poetic samples that illustrate EP's points about writing poetry. There are some dull, pedantic areas of the text, but overall it's a very enlightening read.

Assuming that most readers will be multilingual is a stretch, yet Pound spends
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Eric
Contains an advocacy of Chaucer more vehement than I ever heard from the professional Middle Englishers at college. 'You would not be far out if you chose to consider Chaucer as the father of litterae humaniores for Europe.' Huh. The appreciations of Gavin Douglas, Golding and Fielding also caught my mind.

After that, nothing much surprising: Shakespeare isn't a diety...Milton was a blockhead...it is VERY important to know Dante and Cavalcanti...English poetry after Browning is a limp, hazy deca
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matt
Absolute punk rock book of insights, raves, rants, condemnations, fury and exquisite heft. I really enjoyed his puckish, piquant, I'm-Ezra-Pound-and-you're-not kinda vibe.

"Literature is news that STAYS news"....absolutely gaddamn right.

What I always find is the catch with books like this is that inevitably the writer starts to hymn works which the reader hasn't read or doesn't know thoroughly enough to be able to benefit from the insight. Pound falls victim to that here, albeit willingly. I had
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Max Nemtsov
Учебник литературы, близкий к идеальному, а не вот эта ваша вульгарная социология и антропология, приправленная агитпропом и пролеткультом. Паунд учит своих гипотетических студентов читать поэзию как источник литературы вообще (которая «гниет, если слишком удаляется от музыки») и немного касается романа, и этот виртуальный класс просто завораживает — а какие там задания! А какая мини-антология забытой английской поэзии! Он настолько бескомпромиссен и идиосинкратичен, что издавать его по-ру — пре ...more
James
Mount Parnassus in Greek mythology is a mountain in central Greece where the Muses lived; it is known as the mythological home of music and poetry. The ABC of Reading is Ezra Pound's iconoclastic view of stages on the way to Parnassus -- to knowing the nature and meaning of literature. Pound was there at the beginning of the Modernist movement in literature. In fact one could argue that he invented it and he both discovered and encouraged fellow writers, T. S. Eliot is a prominent example, to pe ...more
Mr.
Ezra pound's cryptic, and often arrogant pamphlet about the principles of successful poetry is an interesting insight into the quality of the artist as a learned reader of classical poetry in the lyric form (primarily). Pound does not value any critics who have not produced works of literature themselves, and he promotes individual taste above all else. Never the less, he establishes a basic canon of great lyric poetry, including (above all else) Shakespeare, Homer, Chaucer, and Dante. Pound doe ...more
Jennifer
This little volume was meant as a guide to students and teachers for how to read literature, poems and novels, in order to, by extension, write literature. He puts in a few interesting exercises on how students should do peer critiques to weed out excess language. He also has compiled a meandering list of required reading for the serious reader. Mmm, I must not be a serious student of literature. Because I sure do enjoy contemporary dross now and again. I was thinking that reading this book migh ...more
Nathalie
'A people that grows accustomed to sloppy writing is a people in process of losing grip on its empire and on itself. And this looseness and blowsiness is not anything as simple and scandalous as abrupt and disordered syntax.
"It concerns the relation of expression to meaning. Abrupt and disordered syntax can be at times very honest, and an elaborately constructed sentence can be at times an elaborate camouflage.'
Ezra Pound in 'A B C of Reading
Jenni
I give this a 5 because I think this is what Pound was meant to do: teach and be a critic. I'm not crazy about his poems at all. There are some ridiculous demands in this book (like learning several foreign languages) but overall there's a ton of excellent insights. I especially like what he wrote about Chinese ideograms. As with most "craft" books, this one is meant to teach a person how to read, not write.
Tosh
You are kicked out of every institution, but you still can get a good introduction to literature via Ezra Pound and this book. I read it as a teenager at the right time and right place. Maybe it will happen to you... as well.
Jacqueline
Поезията на Pound е меко казано впечатляваща, не вярвам изобщо да има човек, който да се опита да го оспори. Това, което не подозирах- колко изумително ерудирана личност е самият Pound. Нещо, което осъзнах напълно едва в "ABC of reading".
Колкото и пъти да препрочитам негови творби, винаги изскача нещо ново, на което да ме научи.

***
"Мрачната помпозност няма място дори и в най-щателното изучаване на изкуство, първоначално създадено да радва сърцето. "

***
"Класиката е класика не защото спазва някакв
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Don
I moved halfway across the country (with ~2000 books!), so I'm a little behind on my reading. I jumped back into the fray with the greatest poetic mind of the last Century. Pity he was a fascist...

This is Ezra Pound's textbook/manifesto for reading poetry. He attempts to give the reader a foundation to work from, and it's really fantastic. His vitriol against Milton is amazing, and he introduced me to several poets I didn't know (and made me reconsider my feelings towards Donne).

The glories of H
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Gabriel
It is perhaps the ellipsis of things thought through and taken for granted that lends Pound's writings about writing their didactic tone. It also tends to leave me wanting more-- not necessarily in a good way, because I have come to realize that they are not being hidden in some other book (unless one counts The Cantos, where it all is, in some form or another), they simply haven't been written down. In some ways, this is self-denigration rather than simple belligerence: Pound would rather we go ...more
Kitty
Pound loves to quote himself -- like Cocteau, "Etonnez-moi" -- surprise me -- is the order of the day to ensure that words are charged with meaning with logo-melo-phano-poetic roots growing deep underneath. (42: phanopoeia: throwing a visual image on the mind; Melopoeia: melodic invention; Charge words with sound (37). relationships, etymologies, etc.) The way to learn the music of verse is to listen to it. (56)
Language and thought -- spoken or written, is about articulating and communicating -
...more
Mike Lindgren
This classic work of literary criticism was very amusing to me, with its draconian pronouncements and caustic contempt for the sub-literate and sloppy. Pound has very strong likes and dislikes, and while his enthusiasms are often eccentric (Walter Savage Landor? Fitzgerald's translation of Rubaiyat?), the energy and certainty with which he trumpets them are refreshing. There's a critical worldview in there somewhere, albeit one based on aphorism and epigram rather than systematic analysis.
J. Alfred
The arrogance for which Shapiro (and many others) excoriate Pound is present from the dedication: "The book is not addressed to those who have arrived at full knowledge of the subjects without knowing the facts[.]" (There's no period in Pound's text.) Pound claims that this volume is meant as a textbook. I can't believe it was ever used in that way, or indeed was ever intended that way-- it's part of Pound's lifelong mind games with the rest of the civilized world.
The tone is sort of uniform th
...more
Hortense
Fine. But what about why, as it relates to what and how? He only asked two of the big questions.

A lume spento at St. Elizabeth's.

Sad provenances, a person's books. and you can't keep dragging the old editions everywhere you go when the light is fading. your tracks don't last all that long anyway, in these books that cross your life-
José Gouveia
Awesome book! I'm not a big fan of Pound's very dense work of poetry, but these essays explain his philosophies on poetics on several levels and offer points to back up what he is saying from a cultural and language perspective. This book greatly improved my own sensibilities.
Finbar
I wish this book was taught to all high school students. Pound walks the reader through the critical process and teaches the fundamentals of accessing difficult texts. If only I had read this when I was younger--it would have saved me so much time.
Meg
Sep 30, 2007 Meg rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: thesis
he really is a shit in this one. but a smart shit.
Hafid Benhadria
Ezra POUND – 'Abjadiya't el-Qraya (A.B.C. de la Lecture)

Men ġir el-qṣayed elli mektubin b el-'engliziya el-qdima fi weṣt el-ktab, el-qraya sahla w ṣeḥḥ yestahell had el-ktab weqt qraytu b el-xuṣuṣ la kunt nawi twelli kateb.
Yeɛṭik Ezra naṣayeḥ:
1. beš ma tetleflekš mnin tebda,
2. kifeš tetɛamel mɛa el-nas elli tentaqdek bdal ma tentaqed weš rak tekteb,
3. ywerrilek el-temrinat elli lazem tdirhum beš tseggem ktibtek w qraytek
4. bla ma yensa ynnebhek l el-mafahim elli lazem tmeyyezhum mliḥ.

F had el-sy
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Jenna
Here follows a list of the quotable parts, for the benefit of someone who wants to get the gist of this book without reading it:

"Literature is language charged with meaning. Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree."

"Good writers are those who keep the language efficient. That is to say, keep it accurate, keep it clear. Language is the main means of human communication. If an animal's nervous system does not transmit sensations and stimuli, the anima
...more
Claudia
Dec 16, 2009 Claudia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Serious students of literature
Recommended to Claudia by: E-anthology recommendation
Hardest 200 pages I've read in years! Pound was extremely opinionated about literature and was amazingly well read...in several languages. His examples in Italian and Latin were entirely lost on me, but I'd imagine that was his point: he was smarter and better educated than I am. I'd've gladly "given" him that."Litrature is language charges with meaning to the utmost possible degree." This is why we respond with our hearts.

I loved, if I didn't fully understand, his discussion on Chaucer the Euro
...more
D. Thompson
I didn't get this until I was in graduate school and this could be because I didn't get much of the poetic function during my undergraduate years. Still, this book has some very good information.
Raffi
If you don't agree with Pound, you at least can learn from him how to write without fucking around - just getting your ideas onto paper. He's better at this than just about anyone I've read.
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30055
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet, critic and intellectual who was a major figure of the Modernist movement in early-to-mid 20th century poetry.

Pound's The Cantos contains music and bears a title that could be translated as The Songs—although it never is. Pound's ear was tuned to the motz et sons of troubadour poetry where, as musicologist John Stevens has noted, "melody and
...more
More about Ezra Pound...
Selected Poems The Cantos Personæ: The Shorter Poems Literary Essays of Ezra Pound The Pisan Cantos

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“Literature is news that stays news.” 1145 likes
“And the good writer chooses his words for their 'meaning', but that meaning is not a a set, cut-off thing like the move of knight or pawn on a chess-board. It comes up with roots, with associations, with how and where the word is familiarly used, or where it has been used brilliantly or memorably.” 19 likes
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