The most striking feature of the text, to a casual browser, is the inclusion of Chinese characters as well as quotations in European languages other than English. Recourse to scholarly commentaries is almost inevitable for a close reader. The range of allusion to historical events is very broad, and abrupt changes occur with little transition. There is also wide geographical reference; Pound added to his earlier interests in the classical Mediterranean culture and East Asia selective topics from medieval and early modern Italy and Provence, the beginnings of the United States, England of the 17th century, and details from Africa he had obtained from Leo Frobenius. References without explanation abound. Pound initially believed that he possessed poetic and rhetorical techniques which would themselves generate significance, but as time passed he became more concerned with the messages he wished to convey.
The section he wrote at the end of World War II, begun while he was interned in American-occupied Italy, has become known as The Pisan Cantos, is often considered to be self-contained. It was awarded the first Bollingen Prize in 1948. There were many repercussions, since this in effect honoured a poet who had been condemned as a traitor in his native country, and who had been diagnosed with a serious mental illness.
Contents1 Background1.1 Publication history1.2 Controversy2 Structure3 I–XVI4 XVII–XXX5 XXXI–XLI (XI New Cantos)6 XLII–LI (Fifth Decad, called also Leopoldine Cantos)7 LII–LXI (The China Cantos)8 LXII–LXXI (The Adams Cantos)9 LXXII–LXXIII (The Italian Cantos)10 LXXIV–LXXXIV (The Pisan Cantos)11 LXXXV–XCV (Section: Rock-Drill)12 XCVI–CIX (Thrones)13 Drafts and fragments of Cantos CX–CXVII14 Legacy15 Notes16 SourcesBackground
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