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ABC of Reading Paperback – January 17, 1960


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (January 17, 1960)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811201511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811201513
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #591,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Incredibly alive and intelligent and first-rate.” (The New York Times)

“Full of original and suggestive ideas on the meaning and operation of the poetic art. The comments ring with Pound’s early wit and vigor.” (The New Yorker) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

New Directions has been the primary publisher of Ezra Pound in the U.S. since the founding of the press when James Laughlin published New Directions in Prose and Poetry 1936. That year Pound was fifty-one. In Laughlin’s first letter to Pound, he wrote: “Expect, please, no fireworks. I am bourgeois-born (Pittsburgh); have never missed a meal. . . . But full of ‘noble caring’ for something as inconceivable as the future of decent letters in the US.” Little did Pound know that into the twenty-first century the fireworks would keep exploding as readers continue to find his books relevant and meaningful.

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Customer Reviews

Note also that Pound does not merely confine himself to TELLING us what good literature is.
tepi
He is in love with literature as an art, as a profession, as a process, and as a way of life, and this book is a beautiful introduction to his passions.
Al Kihano
As a bonus, I believe any reader will gain even more by taking up the opening invitation to read the book "for pleasure as well as for profit".
"byzanthem"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Barnaby Thieme on September 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
A typical sentence: "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 forever."

You may use this quote as a meter for predicting your enjoyment of the book. If you find it amusing and arguable, Pound's ABC of Reading will delight you with its erudite gems. If you are repulsed by the presumption, then give the book a wide berth.

Pound sets a standard for basic literacy that few literature scholars can hope to achieve (including mastery of several languages as a pre-requisite to study). Nonetheless, the book is a treasure trove of brilliant and piquant observations, and is itself an exemplar of the crystaline prose Pound extolled. You would be hard-pressed to find an ostentatious or superflous word in the book's entire 200 briskly-moving pages.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. McCullough on January 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
Read this book with a pen in your hand because you are going to want to underline the dozens of amazing sentences and little paragraphs, as well as scribble complaints and disparaging comments next to the rash and just plain faulty ones.

This book will astonish and anger a thoughtful reader. It is not a coherent essay that moves logically from point to point - it is a jarring, manic kaleidoscope.

Since I am a typical American and only understand one language (English, modern) some of this volume was lost to me - but this book is well worth the time you will spend reading it. Highly recommended for all striving writers and people who would like to read more earnestly.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Lucas Klein on June 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Pound was an angry, noisy man whose honesty--and the extent to which the volcano of his personality burns through his prose--is convincing and, when it comes to literature, correct. I can think of no one I'd rather have read anything I've written & say: damn good.
He's dead & that's not going to happen. But we can still get the brash truth about literature, in easy-to-remember pithy comments such as "Literature is news that STAYS news" or comparisons of writing to making a table (don't matter which leg you start with so long as it stands upright when you're done) or to writing a check (the writing of a bad check is a criminal act). He also tells us why, say, Milton was a lousy poet & Homer a great one.
The all-embracing, subjective, if-someone-likes-it-then-it's-good parts of us will reel against some of Pound's fascistic judgements, but the arbiter of taste in each of us, the madman or woman who fumes at how ad. copy is deadening our linguistic nerves, will stand proud at owning, reading, & quoting--often--The ABC of Reading.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
I'd been exposed to Pound's poetry in college but never came across this gem. His opinions are unconventional, but the arguments are convincing and enlightening. His categorization of Chaucer, and Chaucer's England, as being more a part of the European community than England was in Shakespeare's time is fascinating. The unspoken extension would be that many writers today are provincial and less cosmopolitan than writers in the past, in spite of the Internet and the pervasive belief that "the world is smaller" today. I also appreciated Pound's criticism of Milton's odd sentence structure as the result of too much Latin and the inappropriate and confusing attempt to make uninflected English sound like Latin by changing the word order. By virtue of the noun cases, the same Latin sentence may be constructed differently to change the emphasis. This is impossible in English even though Milton attempted it.
The book is full of these unconventional observations, and challenges the reader to look more critically at the classics, let alone at the junk with which we are inundated today.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By "byzanthem" on January 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
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 harsh (and gut-bucket funny) criticism at snobbishness, poor preparation, and laziness -- especially targeting the teacher who, by any of these vices, would lead any student away from the very personal road of discovery, i.e. away from critical thought that is no respecter of persons, even great persons. Too many jabs to count, but here are a couple of his friendliest (and well-placed) shots:
1. Anybody 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.
2. It would take a bile specialist to discover why the Oxford Book of Verses includes the first five strophes (of John Donne's "The Ecstasy") and then truncates the poem with no indication that anything has been omitted.
On this "no slackers" context he elaborates a simple core message: Look at a work for what it is and for what the author intends; then, learn by comparing it to worthy counterexamples. One example of Pound's guidance on this point: "The way to study Shakespeare is to study it side by side with something different and of equal extent. The proper antagonist is Dante who is of equal size and DIFFERENT. ...You can't judge any chemical's reaction merely by putting it with more of itself.
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