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29 - Confucius

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 July 2014

Ira B. Nadel
Affiliation:
University of British Columbia, Vancouver
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Summary

If a man have not order within him He can not spread order about him

(Canto xiii/59)

In the Western intellectual tradition, Ezra Pound stands as a unique Confucian disciple. After Christian missionaries to China first introduced the thought of Confucius to European readers in the seventeenth century, the Chinese sage consistently attracted admirers and adherents including such renowned Western thinkers and writers as Leibniz, Voltaire, and Emerson. But unlike his distinguished predecessors, whose interest in Confucianism stemmed primarily from the presumption that its rational philosophy could serve to legitimize their own Enlightenment ideal of a modern socio-political formation founded on reason, Pound was drawn to another element. Within Confucianism, he located the empowering means to resist the socio-political alienation of humanity engendered by the conditions of Western capitalist modernity.

With this profound agenda, Pound was able to surpass all his Western predecessors both in the depth of his grasp of Confucian ideas and in the extent of his commitment to transmitting these ideas – “the blossoms from the east” – to the West (xiii/60). But Pound was never content to act merely as a passive transmitter of Confucian ideas. Instead, he sought to establish Confucianism's contemporary relevance by reinventing a new Confucian humanist discourse – an ideological weapon that could help him to address effectively the “immediate need” of a Western world in crisis (SPR, 75). He effected this reinvention of Confucianism through his creative translations, poetic configurations, and theoretical formulations.

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Ezra Pound in Context , pp. 324 - 334
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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  • Confucius
  • Edited by Ira B. Nadel, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Book: Ezra Pound in Context
  • Online publication: 05 July 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511777486.033
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  • Confucius
  • Edited by Ira B. Nadel, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Book: Ezra Pound in Context
  • Online publication: 05 July 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511777486.033
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Confucius
  • Edited by Ira B. Nadel, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Book: Ezra Pound in Context
  • Online publication: 05 July 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511777486.033
Available formats
×