Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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December 07, 2006
the road of excess

In the December 2006 Harpers, James Leonard knows how to end with style and intelligence his review of a new collection of correspondence between Guy Davenport and James       Laughlin:

Davenport might have come up with my kicker for the month: "Doesn't Ezra say in the last Cantos that if you don't go too far, you'll never know the boundaries?"

I can't find quite that particular quote in Pound's "last" (post "Rock-Drill"?) cantos, drafts and fragments. The closest thing seems to be this sidebar from Canto XCVI:
If we never write anything save what is already understood, the field of understanding will never be extended. One demands the right, now and again, to write for a few people with special interests and whose curiosity reaches into greater detail.
Davenport's paraphrase of the above bit, if that's the one he had in mind, is wonderful. He generously frames Pound's project to make it sound like one the poet means for us to participate in with him as humble, fellow students on an exploratory voyage of intellectual curiosity with no predetermined destination. He diplomatically lets slide the Cantos' frequent tone, that of the cranky, lecturing, know-it-all schoolmaster.