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Cathay at 100: A Conversation

 

Timothy BILLINGS, Christopher BUSH, Yunte HUANG,

Josephine PARK, Marjorie PERLOFF, QIAN Zhaoming,

Haun SAUSSY, Richard SIEBURTH

 

 

THE INVITATION:

In April 1915 a slim volume of verse was published by Elkin Mathews in London, Cathay: For the Most Part from the Chinese of Rihaku, from the notes of the late Ernest Fenollosa, and the Decipherings of the Professors Mori and Ariga. Ezra Pound’s Cathay is just 100 years old, and we all know what it did to transform English- language poetry (especially American). It has also generated some fine scholarship over the years— and lots of interesting disagreement. With a century of changing perspectives now behind us, wouldn’t it be a good moment (however adventitious) to sit down and talk about the differences that Cathay made, and the differences between its earliest readers’ responses and ours today, and other related topics? Here’s what I would like to invite you to, if you like the idea: a conversation over email about Cathay, to be pursued in odd moments over the next few weeks or possibly months, following the turns of real conversation. At some point I would then edit it down and send it to each of you for final approval and revisions. What do you think? A little hundredth‑birthday party for the slim khaki‑colored volume.


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Reproduced by permission from Chinese Literature, Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR) 37 (2015).