Bachelor of Arts
Pisan Cantos, Passage to India, Forster, Pound
Have there ever been two more dissimilar writers in literary history than E.M. Forster and Ezra Pound? Forster, fatherless from the age of twenty-two months, educated in the British public school system and at Cambridge, influenced by the Apostles and the Bloomsbury group, wrote from within the shaping pressures of English tradition. In pictures and paintings, he appears always out of place or fatigued, with his head falling back against a cushion or chair. With his slight build, dainty style, and small, roundish head projecting forward into his nose, he fails to cut much of a figure next to the menacing Pound, the man of angular face and academic beard and sweater, with the huge tuft of wavy hair and burning eyes, spouting rough-hewn language riddled with phonetic spellings from "digged" to "wuz." In pictures he appears to be either bracing for a fight or posing for a sculpture, but his didactic intellectual spirit, his range of knowledge, and his willingness to listen and teach brought European modernism to the American stage with his haughty challenge to the country's writers to "make it new." Yet while their methods and manners remain separated by the Atlantic and their polarized personalities, these two writers stand firmly in the tradition of literary modernism. The through-line that emerges from reading two oftheir most lauded works, Forster's A Passage to India and Pound's The Pisan Cantos, is the aching desire for human connection. The two works are unified by their vision, seeking the touch of a regenerative intimacy with other people and the self through friendship, love, and sexuality, against the uncertainty, alienation, and doubt set in motion by modernity's upheaval.
Diesenhaus, Douglas, "All Hands Withdrawn: Touch and the Failure of Intimacy in A Passage to India and The Pisan Cantos" (2002). Honors Papers. 500.