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Temporality in modernist literature : Ezra Pound and Virginia Woolf
Tsang, Chiu-ying, Venus; 曾昭楹
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Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future And time future contained in time past. If all time is eternally present All time is unredeemable. What might have been is an abstraction Remaining a perpetual possibility Only in a world of speculation. What might have been and what has been Point to one end, which is always present.1
In “Burnt Norton”, the first of The Four Quartets, Eliot reflects on the nature of time. What is? What has been? What was? What will be? What is the relationship between the past, the present and the future? What is the eternity?
T. S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton” in Four Quartets in T. S. Eliot: Collected Poems 1909-1962. London: Faber and Faber, 1963, p.189.
Temporality has been an intriguing puzzle not only for modernists, but for many others from philosophers to artists, since 300B.C.. Augustine is among the first philosophers to probe into the mystery of time. He reflects on the nature of the past, the present and the future in Confessions, which is a philosophical work on temporality. His theory on the existence of subjective time in particular has sparked off numerous inquiries into the concept.
One of the reasons why temporality has become a major concern for the modernists is that most of them were in exile. It is the sense of displacement and estrangement that prompts them to cross the boundaries of time and free themselves from the predicament of the present experience through memory and imagination. Ezra Pound, an American exile in England, pursued to break the predominant Anglo-American literary tradition by journeying into the times of Homer, ancient Japan and ancient China, thus introducing into Anglo-American literature literary elements found in Latin literature, the Japanese haiku, and the poetry of the T’ang
point-like present. among many. which refers to a present encompassing the past. Like Pound. I will elucidate the non-linear temporality of Pound’s imagery with specific reference to his poems from Cathay. The Cantos as well as his haiku poems. On the basis of the theoretical concepts of time. duration of time and linearity of time starting from the debate between Augustine and Aristotle.7 Dynasty. I will argue that the present invoked by and in Pound’s imagery is not a durationless. Pound and Woolf have devised a new literary tradition. By juxtaposing the past and the present. measurement of time. I will analyse the modernists’ perspective of time by tracing the debates concerning the existence of time. In the first chapter. the present and the future. i.e. Though she was born in England and mainly used it as a base for her literary activities. Virginia Woolf also felt displaced and alienated. she felt marginalized by the dominant male literary tradition and pursued to break this tradition by devising a tradition belonging to women. This means that temporality in Pound’s poetry is a . but a durational present. what Augustine calls distentio animi.
I will argue that the two kinds of temporality can be found in both Pound’s and Woolf’s works and that the durational present in Pound’s poems corresponds to the durational moment in Woolf’s novels and short stories. The ways this non-linear temporality is invoked in Pound’s and Woolf’s works are similar. Although the terms used by Pound and . I will proceed to explore how the linear and non-linear temporalities are brought out in Chapter 2. the present and the future which exist simultaneously as subjective time in which Pound’s imagery transcends the boundaries of time. After explaining the kinds of temporality found in Pound’s works in Chapter 1. The interactions between phanopoeia and logopoeia means the interactions between what is seen objectively and what is perceived subjectively.8 collision of the past. I will elaborate this by comparing Pound’s phanopoeia and logopoeia and Woolf’s “tunnelling process”. This process of associations is similar to the underlying working of Woolf’s “tunneling process” which also refers to the interactions between the eye and the mind.
they refer to the same process in which the past emotion existing in the mind is uplifted into the present. the emotion is no longer a past emotion.e. but an emotion existing in one’s present consciousness. I will delineate how an emotion transcends the boundaries of time and becomes timeless with reference to Pound’s The Cantos and Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and A Room of One’s Own. By assuming a subjective existence. i. and thus transcending the boundaries of time. Through the process of uplifting. .9 Woolf are different. the emotion becomes a vortex which keeps on “rushing” across the boundaries of the past. the present and the future. the distentio animi of the present.
10 Chapter 1: Pound’s Imagism and Temporality […] the image is more than an idea. 2 . the past. namely. I will attempt to explain the collision of times and the Ezra Pound. It is a vortex or cluster of fused ideas and is endowed with energy […] a vortex. p. William Cookson. ideas are constantly rushing. ed. 132.e. the present and the future. from which and through which and into which.2 How can an image be measured temporally if it is “constantly rushing”? When does this vortex start revolving? How long will it continue to move? When will it stop “rushing”? In this chapter. i. London: Faber and Faber. the distentio animi of the present. 1978. On the basis of Augustine’s theory. “Affirmations as for Imagisme” in Selected Prose 1909-1965. I will first probe into Augustine’s theory of time in Confessions in which he puts forward the idea of distentio animi of the present and suggests that the three times. exist simultaneously in the subjective time. I will explore the temporality of Pound’s imagery.
Conn.4. Pound defines the image as “an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time”:3 It is the presentation of such a “complex” instantaneously which gives that sense of sudden liberation. Pound’s definition of an image serves well as a starting point in the exploration of the relationship between Augustine’s theory of temporality and Pound’s theory of imagism. though as a physical instant of time.: Faber and Faber. ed. p. 4 Ibid.11 emphasis on the present in Pound’s poetry and suggest that Pound’s imagery exists as a snap-shot and transcends the boundaries of time. that sense of freedom from time limits and space limits. Eliot. 3 Ezra Pound. that sense of sudden growth. . Literary Essays of Ezra Pound. I will argue that this “moment”.S. In “A Retrospect”. Yet.4 It seems that Pound is less concerned with the duration of time as with a point in time.. Norfolk. an “instant” of the present invoked by and in an image. 1954. p. which we experience in the presence of the greatest works of art. T.4.
Cornford. Philip H.12 encompasses a subjective temporal framework that stretches from the present moment to the past. Then. Mass. 1993. is entirely made up of no-longer and not-yet. p. Cambridge. In Aristotle.373. can time have duration and can it be measured? Aristotle examines the existence of time and the possibility of measuring it in Physics (IV. and how can we conceive of that which is composed of non-existents sharing in existence in any way?5 Augustine also sets off a meditation on temporality in Confessions. 5 . The temporal duration of an image is thus extended.x): […] time. then the only being is an instant of the present which is moving into the realm of the past and is being replaced by another instant of the future. whether limitless or any given length of time we take. Before explaining the duration of Pound’s image. trans. Wicksteed and Francis M. The Physics. and from the present moment the future. the problematic of temporality has to be tackled.: Harvard University Press. If the past is gone and the future is yet to come.
thou dost not say so […]. arguing that if the sun takes shorter time to complete its circuit. 1991. the concept of “day” may change. and it is still time that measures the 6 7 Ibid. let alone the present. But the concept of time remains unchanged. he is baffled by the ontological question. Saint Augustine. he refutes the reductive approach in measuring time by motions: For I hear that no body is moved but in time. this thou tellest me. He cites the example of the motion of the sun. Oxford: Oxford University Press. In explaining the possibility of measuring time. he points out that the past and the future do not exist. Confessions (24:31). we measure not only its motion but also its rest as well. But that the motion of a body itself is time I do not hear. Like Aristotle.. and both by time!7 Augustine believes that time cannot be measured cosmologically by motions of the bodies as time goes on even if a certain motion stops its course. then. is time?”6 He is also perplexed by the being and non-being of time. although a body is sometimes moved and sometimes stands still. .264.13 analysing the existence of time. p. Henry Chadwick. “What. For. trans.
i. That means only the present can be measured. Augustine rejects the existence of the past and the future and asserts that only the present exists. and it remembers. the second criterion. duration. Who denies that future things do not exist as yet? But still there is already in the mind the expectation of things still future.14 circuit of the sun. For measuring the present. expectation and the present.e. is then lacking. To tackle this problem. attention: For the mind expects. But if the present is only an instant. so that what it expects passes into what it remembers by way of what it attends to. being and duration are equally important criteria. our attention 8 Ibid.8 As explained above. the future. Who denies that time present has no length. it attends. And who denies that past things now exist no longer? Still there is in the mind the memory of things past. since it passes away in a moment? Yet. . Augustine puts forward his theory of the distentio animi which refers to the inclusion of the past and the future in the extended present in which the past exists in the form of memory.
1984. while the subjective time which exists as perception is durational. He suggests that the objective time counted by the pendulum is durationless. He explains this in Time and Free Will thus: 9 Confessions (28. Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer. but subjectively by motions of the soul. and they exist simultaneously. p. the past. 11 Confessions (20:26). trans. v.13. This simultaneity resists any cosmological interpretation and necessitates that the three times exist subjectively in our mental construction.37). 10 .11 are brought together. the present and the future. 1. Paul Ricoeur. Time and Narrative. Augustine’s idea of subjective time is also supported by Bergson who draws a distinction between two types of times: the objective time and the subjective time. namely.9 The extension is not measured physically by motions of the bodies. It is on the basis of this theory that Augustine establishes the notion of a threefold present.15 has a continuity and it is through this that what is present may proceed to become absent. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.10 in which the three times.
107. First. as seems to be thought. I do not measure duration. Time and Free Will.) Second.16 When I follow with my eyes on the dial of a clock the movement of the hand which corresponds to the oscillations of the pendulum. By this. 1910. which is very different.12 In the above quote. London: Allen & Unwin. The “past oscillations of the pendulum” exist at the same time as the “present oscillation” when a person recalls the past moments. p. Bergson explains two key concepts. F. This means that the subjective time is extended from the present and even the future. Pogson. different times coexist. trans. which constitutes true duration. time is durational as the past continues to exist “within” one’s consciousness. It is because I endure in this way that I picture to myself what I call the past oscillations of the pendulum at the same time as I perceive the present oscillation. Within myself a process of organization or interpenetration of conscious states is going on. there is never more than a single position of the hand and the pendulum. (This corresponds to Augustine’s idea of distentio animi. Bergson suggests that the different times are not external 12 Henri Bergson. in space. Outside of me. L. for nothing is left of the past positions. I merely count simultaneities. .
p. Lustra of Ezra Pound. but are juxtaposed. Bergsons’s and Augustine’s idea of a simultaneous existence of the three times corresponds to Pound’s imagism in which different times collide and images belonging to different times are juxtaposed or superimposed on one another so as to build up a complex of images. yet this present moment 13 Ezra Pound.17 to each other. and the leaves Scurry into heaps and lie still. . New York: Haskell House Publishers. 1973. The poem “Liu Ch’e” may be used to illustrate this: The rustling of the silk is discontinued. Dust drifts over the court-yard. And she the rejoicer of the heart is beneath them: A wet leaf that clings to the threshold. the present tense “is” is used.43.13 In the first line. There is no sound of foot-fall.
14 In this way. the past tense is not used here because the past is not just the “no-longer”. to use Augustine’s term. The technique of juxtaposition of the two verbs in the present tense effects a collision of the past and the present and brings the past into the distentio animi of the present. the past can exist in. the distentio animi of the present. In a similar fashion. “Scurry” in line 4 of “Liu Ch’e”. 14 Time and Free Will. .18 is abruptly disrupted and “discontinued”. the poetic speaker has brought the experience of the past into the present when he could “see” the rustling of the lady’s silk in his present consciousness. Through memory. the present has already become the past. Yet.107. which signifies motion. This process reminds us of Bergson’s metaphor of “past oscillations” swinging in the “present oscillation”. p. is followed by “lie still” which signifies the end of motion and therefore indicates that the first action (“Scurry”) is something that happened in the past.
Pound does not deny the existence of the past and the future.19 In Pound’s imagist poems. like the Past. p. The Present is Art. 1986. 16 15 . as he tells us. but rather he suggests that the intensity of an image can most effectively be invoked in the present. This ties in with Literary Essays of Ezra Pound. for the purpose of.44. ed.4. This echoes Lewis’s emphasis on the present in “Long Live the Vortex” which appeared in the first issue of Blast: The Future is distant. Life is the Past and the Future. Lewis Wyndham.16 Pound takes Lewis’s argument that elegiac poetry is as nostalgic and sentimental as the poetry about dreams of the future. “Long Live the Vortex” in The English Modernist Reader. Peter Faulkner.15 By this. p. and therefore sentimental […] The new vortex plunges to the heart of the Present […] With our Vortex the Present is the only active thing. creating “an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time”. the present is more emphasized than the past and the future. Iowa City: Iowa Press.
the intensity of the 17 Ezra Pound. hammer home the idea that an image is most intense when it exists in the present which is the only temporal sphere charged with energy and activity. . and through which. 18 “Long Live the Vortex” in The English Modernist Reader. 90. I do not mean that they are more emphatic or yelled louder.17 He further elaborates on this idea in Vorticism: Vorticism is an intensive art. They are more dynamic. and into which. 1970. or relative significance. as Xie notes. In the first five lines. New York: New Directions. ideas are constantly rushing”. Yet. “from which. for certain forms of expression are “more intense” than others. the times are disrupted with the past flowing into the present and vice versa. of different sorts of expression.20 Pound’s definition of the vortex.18 Lewis’s proclamation and Pound’s definition. One desires the most intense. that one is concerned with the relative intensity. when considered together.92. “Vorticism” in Gaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir. p. This emphasis on the present can be illustrated by the last image in “Liu Ch’e”. I mean by this.
p. 20 The term “snap-shot” is used in Ernest Fenollosa. and Imagism. In using the present tense. Though this verb semantically signifies stasis.20 This idea of a snap-shot existence actually complements. but an end of motion. stasis. rather than contradicts. but by situating it in the immediate consciousness of the poem’s present […]. like a snap-shot. The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry. To explain it with Augustine’s theory of time. it signifies duration linguistically (through the use of the present tense). p. Ezra Pound and the Appropriation of Chinese Poetry: Cathay. 1936.19 In the last line. the verb “clings” does not refer to a kind of motion. In this sense.. San Francisco: City Lights Books. the future is brought into the present and exists in the distentio animi of the present. thus lengthening the duration of the present and transcending the boundary of the present. The result is that the image is endowed with a quality of permanence. Translation. Ezra Pound. 1999. Inc. ed. Pound’s emphasis Xie Ming. the clinging of the “wet leaf” lingers.56. New York and London: Garland Publishing.21 moment of the last image is achieved: […] not by lifting a moment of present memory and evoked past out of specifically determined circumstances. 19 .10. the last image of the poem is not static.
in his attempt to translate Chinese verbs. The long Kiang. a distant shade. i.22 on the present since the image exists in the continuity of the present. His long sail blots the far sky. The use of snap-shot images is closely related to Pound’s translation of Chinese poems. takes the freedom to choose the tense of the verbs used. As the verbs in Chinese are not inflectional.85. 22 . Ezra Pound’s Cathay. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Pound. reaching heaven. This can be illustrated by “Separation on the River Kiang”: Ko-jin goes west from Ko-kaku-ro.212-213. 1969. The smoke-flowers are blurred over the river. See Yip’s translation in Wai-lim Yip. p. pp. Pound takes the liberty to change the past tense of the verb in “A lone sail. And now I see only the river.e. the distentio animi of the present.21 In the above poem. lost in the blue horizon”22 to a verb in 21 Lustra of Ezra Pound.
and the image is like a snap-shot which stays forever in the present.84. “now” is Pound’s addition.10. an isolated thing.23 the present tense. In line 4. 23 . 24 A term used by Pound in Gaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir. be possible in nature. When “now” is juxtaposed with “reaching”. cross-sections cut through actions. or rather the meeting points. and so that Chinese conception tends to represent them”.23 Pound’s emphasis on the present in imagist poems can also be illustrated by “Separation on the River Kiang”. The eye sees noun and verb as one: things in motion. an abstract motion. snap-shots. the time marker. The frozen and timeless image commonly found in Pound’s poetry is closely related to the “hokku like”24 Pound’s idea of Chinese mainly comes from the notes left by Fenollosa whose understanding of Chinese characters is far from accurate. Pound posits his image in the present. he is also indebted to Japanese poetry. p. Pound is not only fascinated with and influenced by Chinese poetry. of actions. does not exist in nature. the future is brought into the present. Fenollosa’s interpretation is shown in the following quote: “A true noun. “blots” in line 3. Neither can a pure verb. motion in things. In this way. He has misunderstood all Chinese characters as having both a noun and a verb quality. Things are only the terminal points. p. in The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry. Through the change of the verb. which is not inflectional. the sense of permanence is invoked.
Pound. Furbank. Pound also admits that he is indebted to the haiku in formulating his own theory of imagism.26 25 Ezra Pound.15-16. in Fortnightly Review (1 September 1915). Experimenting the form and structure of haiku. not a single verb is used. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.24 images. pp. pp. “Vorticism”. Pound composes his famous poem “In a Station of the Metro”: The apparition of these faces in the crowd. 1985. Petals of the black. An example of haiku is quoted by Pound in “Vorticism”: The footsteps of the cat upon the snow: Plum-blossoms. 26 Ibid. Quoted in P..N.25 In the above haiku. which is presented as happening now.15-16. wet bough. not in the past. The two “things” are only juxtaposed without any indication of time passed or time passing. Haiku is a kind of Japanese poetry of 17 syllables (5-7-5) which usually presents only two juxtaposed images in relation to a particular event (not a generalization). .
Ezra Pound.63. one is trying to record the precise instant when a thing outward and objective transforms itself. transcends the boundaries of time. which resembles a snap-shot. which are the three means of communication to “charge language with meaning to the utmost possible degree”:28 [Phanopoeia] means “throwing the object (fixed or moving) on to the visual imagination. The interpretation of the imagery requires readers to link the two “things” in their mind together.25 In omitting the verb. pp.. the poem is devoid of time markers. 1960. […] [Logopoeia] means “inducing both of the 27 28 Ibid. . or darts into a thing inward and subjective. […] [Melopoeia] means “inducing emotional correlations by the sound and rhythm of the speech. The imagery. ABC of Reading. phanopoeia and logopoeia. New York: New Directions Books. p. as Pound puts it in this way: In a poem of this sort.27 How the objective image is transformed into the subjective and becomes a snap-shot can be further elaborated by Pound’s definition of melopoeia.15-16.
it can also be considered a time without boundaries.29 In the mental process of “associations”.26 effects by stimulating the associations (intellectual or emotional) that have remained in the receiver’s consciousness in relation to the actual words or word groups employed. and the imagery evoked exists in the distentio animi of the individual reader’s present. . the objective “thing” described is transformed into a subjective mood. the present and the future.. 74. Since the distentio animi of the present is a synchrony of the past. Through the mental activity – “associations” – of the reader. The most intense emotion is thus created and becomes timeless. the duration of the present is lengthened. This can be illustrated by the following excerpt from Cantos IV: 29 Ibid. Through the process of “associations”. the images existing in the reader’s memory are brought to the present and a chemical reaction is triggered off with the result that the imagery unique to each individual reader is evoked.
“ply” is used in this case to describe liquid. Pisan Cantos and the Noh.15. the reader has to figure out the relationship between the two “things” which then come into existence in the readers’ subjective time. p. . the ripples of the brook ‘freezes. the motion of the water is terminated.27 Ply over ply. the description “[p]ly over ply” applies both to the “water” and “petals”. New York: New Directions. The word “ply” is usually found in a context where solid objects are concerned. in Time and Narrative. As mentioned. the liquid solidified32 and the image frozen. Yet. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. The Cantos of Ezra Pound. 31 When “ply” is associated with the flowing “water”.13. pp. 32 Ursula Shioki argues that “[t]he word ‘ply’. 1975. the interpretation of Pound’s imagist poems 30 31 Ezra Pound. which is normally used in connection with solid substances. The timelessness of Pound’s images is closely related to the idea of subjective time. suggests a sudden solidifying of the water.’ so to speak. thin flitter of water Brook film bearing white petals30 In the above lines. but not in connection with fluids. To interpret the imagery of these two lines.” in Ursula Shioki. Ezra Pound.67-68. It becomes a snap-shot which transcends the boundaries of time. 1998. Ricoeur terms Augustine’s thesis on time as a “psychological thesis” so as to distinguish it from that of Aristotle and Plotinus. p.
through which the limits of one image or one word are extended. but it takes count in a special way of habits of usage.25. it employs words not only for their direct meaning. . and cannot possibly be contained in plastic or in music. of its known acceptances. and of ironical play. but also of temporality as readers are required to dip into their memories and relate the images with those projected on their visual screen. that is to say. This extension is an extension not only of meaning. “The dance of the intellect among words”. It holds the aesthetic content which is peculiarly the domain of verbal manifestation. This can be illustrated by “The Jewel Stairs’ Grievance” in Cathay: 33 Literary Essays of Ezra Pound. p.28 requires the reader’s mental activity of “associations”.33 Pound’s imagism requires the reader’s active participation in the process of “associations”. of the context we expect to find with the word. its usual concomitants. Pound’s definition of logopoeia in “How to Read” sheds light on this: Logopoeia.
The image of “clear autumn”. the round shape of the moon in “clear autumn” is usually compared with the togetherness of a family. It is so late that the dew soaks my gauze stockings. a contrast is set up between the round moon and the 34 35 Lustra of Ezra Pound. juxtaposed with the lonely court lady..75. And I let down the crystal curtain And watch the moon through the clear autumn.75. . Yet. In this way. p. Ibid. In Chinese culture. for the word “round” in Chinese is used to describe both the shape of the moon and the completeness of a family. evokes a sense of poignancy at a deeper level. a reader who is more familiar with Chinese culture and tradition will take into account the “habits of usage” and the context in which the image usually appears. p. Thus.34 In Pound’s note to this poem. “clear autumn” signifies that the persona’s lover has no excuse on account of weather35 not to return home. “clear autumn” here probably refers to Mid-Autumn Festival when the family members meet each other and appreciate the beauty of the round moon together.29 The jeweled steps are already quite white with dew.
One of the two Chinese characters for the English word “crystal” is the character meaning “water”. a privileged . A reader who understands Chinese characters may associate “crystal” with tears. As Riddel argues: The praxis of the moving Image puts in question the idea of the unified or autotelic text. or the thought of poetic closure. What I want to argue is that what the imagery evokes in the process of “associations” is free floating. the objective “thing” is transformed into the subjective mood of poignancy. The interpretation of the imagery depends on the pool of images in a reader’s mind. the subjective time. It also resists the possibility of a text commanded by any one of its elements: a controlling theme. Another image that evokes logopoeia in the poem is “crystal curtain”. In this way.30 separated couple. It is a result of what Pound calls logopoeia which involves the interactions between the words appearing on the page and images existing in the imagination.
and results from “associations” of the “things” described objectively in the poem with the images existing in the Joseph Riddel. 38 Ibid. the present and the future enjoy a simultaneous existence. To reiterate. the past. ed. temporality in Pound’s poetry is disrupted.31 point of view. is in the poetic imagery.14. that sense of freedom from time limits. This subjective time. Josué V Harari. “Decentering the Image: The ‘Project’ of ‘American” Poetics’?” in Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist Criticism. 36 .38 This reminds us of Augustine’s theory that time cannot be measured by objective motions. This existence is made possible in terms of Augustine’s notion of subjective time. 37 Literary Essays of Ezra Pound.. p. the distentio animi of the present. authorial intentionality. image cluster or central symbol. This corresponds to Pound’s comment in “A Retrospect” that “[o]nly emotion endures”.345.36 For the imagery to have “a sense of sudden liberation.4. but subjectivity. New York: Cornell University Press. p.”37 it has to be placed in the subjective time when any fixed definition is resisted. and the three times. It is in this way that the imagery becomes timeless and permanent. p. Ithaca. for Pound. 1979. that is.
This can be explained by Augustine’s theory that the past and the future are not the “no-longer” and “not-yet” respectively. the most intense emotion. they both exist in the distentio animi of the present. p.. .e. Among the three times. Chapter 2: Temporality and Techniques in Pound’s and Woolf’s writing 39 Ibid.4. Instead. as the vortex only exists in the present. i.32 reader’s memory. I will also compare the techniques devised by Pound and Woolf to trace the different kinds of temporality and to bring an emotion beyond the boundaries of time. This explains why the “intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time”39. the present is more emphasized in Pound’s poetry. is evoked in the present. In the following chapter. I will attempt a comparison between the kinds of temporality found in Pound’s works and those in Woolf’s works.
which encompasses the past. Woolf’s image also exists in the subjective temporality as both Woolf and Pound refute the objective temporality as the only form of temporality. I have argued that Pound’s image.33 In Chapter 1. exists in the distentio animi of the present. In this chapter. both of them refer to the same temporality which . I will discuss the similarities between Pound’s and Woolf’s perceptions of temporality. In the following. I have pointed out in Chapter 1 that Pound’s timeless image exists in the subjective temporality. the most intense poetic moment. melopoeia and logopoeia and vorticism which bring an image beyond the boundaries of time. the present and the future. Though Pound uses the term “instant” and Woolf “moment of being”. I have also explained how the past is brought into the present in the form of memory and made a brief introduction of the theoretical concepts espoused by Pound. In fact. namely phanopoeia. I will argue that Woolf’s and Pound’s texts are written in both linear and non-linear timelines.
thus transcending the temporal limits. They are the CORPSES of VORTICES. DENY the vortex. reprinted in Poetry and Prose 1. I choose this as a point of departure because on one hand. “Vortex” in Blast 1. the emotion evoked is brought to the distentio animi of the present and enjoys a subjective existence. p. Lea Baechler et al.40 40 Ezra Pound. Futurism. Before comparing Pound’s and Woolf’s temporality. 1914. . ed. on the other hand. New York: Gardland.34 is a result of the interactions between linear and non-linear timelines. I will first give a brief introduction of Woolf’s perception of temporality by delineating the differences between Woolf’s aesthetics and that of post-impressionism. Through the process of interactions. 1991.258. Woolf’s aesthetics is widely considered impressionistic. Pound asserts: Impressionism. the aesthetics of impressionism is criticized by Pound who considers it too akin to that of Romanticism. i. which is only an accelerated sort of impressionism.e. the objective and subjective temporality.
Harmondsworth: Penguin. As Scott puts it. the temporality of her texts. is not durationless. I will argue that though Woolf’s writing has aesthetic traits of post-impressionist painting. like Roger Fry. The emphasis on the momentary and durationless temporality is different from that of Pound’s and Woolf’s.35 The aesthetics of impressionism emphasizes an accurate recording of the momentary and transient reality of an object over a period of time. “Symbolism. Vanessa Bell and admitted that Vanessa’s paintings had an influence on her writing. Walter Sickert and Duncan Grant in the Bloomsbury Group. Woolf had made an acquaintance of many post-impressionist painters. Malcolm Bradbury and James McFarlane.222. 1991. like that of Pound’s images. 41 . Decadence and Impressionism” in Modernism: 1890-1930.41 This impressionist aesthetics is evidenced in Claude Monet’s use of short brush stroke to capture the fleeting moments of the Lily Pond in the Water Lilies Series and to record the processes of gradual changes of light on the canvas. Clive Scott. impressionist pictures are always on the brink of a next moment. ed. Woolf also affectionately admired the paintings of her sister. p. In the following.
“Walter Sickert: a conversation” in Richard Shone’s Bloomsbury Portraits: Vanessa Bell. In “Walter Sickert: a conversation” written after viewing Sickert’s exhibition in 1933 at Agnew’s Gallery in London. Woolf noted: As I remember it. In a review of “Kew Gardens”. colours and shades are pictorially sketched in Woolf’s writings. Duncan Grant and their Circle. 42 . For instance.36 Woolf even draws an analogy between the aesthetics of painting and that of writing and suggests that a writer should treat language as a painter treats paint. “Kew Gardens” and To the Lighthouse. 1976. Roger Fry compares Woolf’s story with Leopold Survage’s paintings thus: Virginia Woolf. p. to hear what they are saying. his show was full of pictures that might be stories […] it is difficult to look at them and not to invent a plot.26. the nuances of changing light. London: Phaidon. like “Blue and Green”.42 It is not difficult to find the aesthetic traits of post-impressionist paintings in Woolf’s writing.
1975. 1985. have captured an extended temporality when they depict moving images.71. Below is a description of the changes of light on the surfaces of the leaves: Instead. “an ‘unintentional Parody’” in Virginia Woolf: The Critical Heritage. revealing the branching thread of fibre beneath the surface. ed. the drop was left in a second silver grey once more. this extended temporality is a linear temporality and it lacks the non-linear. now that […] it was meant for Mrs Virginia Woolf – that Survage is almost precisely the same thing in paint that Mrs Virginia Woolf is in prose.55. Robin Majumdar and Allen McLaurin.44 Roger Fry. and the light now settled upon the flesh of a leaf. 44 Virginia Woolf.43 It may be argued that the post-impressionists. London : Hogarth Press. London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul. p. “Kew Gardens”. and again it moved on and spread its illumination in the vast green spaces beneath the dome of the heart-shaped and tongue-shaped leaves. extended temporality of Pound’s and Woolf’s. The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf.37 I see. like Survage. p. Yet. 43 . This can be illustrated by Woolf’s short story.
language records the changes of colours as paint does on a canvas. But Forster does not mean that we should only focus on the visionary or trace the fleeting moments – the changing shades 45 E. M. In the story.45 It is justifiable to read “Kew Gardens” with our eyes and appreciate the language as if it is paint. perhaps. Forster. M. . but.38 The above excerpt is characteristic of post-impressionist painting in that it has traced the moving beam of light which changes colour subtly when it glows on different surfaces.69. Forster also suggests using the “vision” approach: reading “Kew Gardens” with our eyes: For in this queer world of Vision it is the surfaces of things. it is the world of the Eye – not of supreme importance. “Visions” in Virginia Woolf: The Critical Heritage. it has no connection with the worlds of practical or philosophic truth. into the eyes of the men and women who walk in Kew Gardens in July (italics mine). how rarely revealed! Then the breeze stirred rather more briskly overhead and the colour was flashed into the air above. E. p. oh. not their names or natures that matter.
by juxtaposing flowers and people walking in Kew Gardens.. the spectrum of light brightens the palette of moments buried in the characters’ subjectivity. In this sense. memory of 46 Ibid. until they grow unforgettably bright and become one. […] [The flowers] cause us to see men also as petals or coloured blobs that loom and dissolve in the green blue atmosphere of Kew (italics mine). p. Forster points out that the story is not a record of the changing tones of the light per se. flowers. i. water and insects – in Kew Gardens. Forster continues: […] there are two visions which gradually draw together (as when one adjusts field-glasses). In the story. .69. In the same review.e.46 In the above quote. we have to trace its vertical temporality. When the people look at the flowers in the present. the story does not only follow the movement of objects according to the linear timeline.39 of light on the petals. In order to interpret the story. The sublime moment is evoked when men are dissolved in the glows of colour and light.
They come like a shower and splash here and there anytime. “Modern Fiction” in The Common Reader. a kiss. The mind receives a myriad impressions – trivial. Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. as they shape themselves into the life of Monday or Tuesday […]. The following recollection of Eleanor’s. may shed light on this: Look within and life.149-150. painting the water-lilies. it seems. down by the side of a lake.47 From the above quote. 47 . the first Virginia Woolf. may exemplify this: [The past is. an incessant shower of innumerable atoms.40 the past surfaces. it can be deduced that Woolf’s “impressions” are subjective and they do not follow any kind of linear temporal order. is very far from being “like this”. These are what Woolf has described in “Kew Gardens”. evanescent. “Modern Fiction”. fantastic. pp. Imagine six little girls sitting before their easels twenty years ago. or engraved with the sharpness of steel. for] me. From all sides they come. 1984. one of the women walking in Kew Gardens. Andrew McNeillie. and as they fall. ed. London: Hogarth Press. Woolf’s explanation of her “impressions” in her famous essay.
Through what Pound calls “associations”.49 Through memory. Literary Essays of Ezra Pound. . This “kiss” is like an atom showering in the present consciousness of Eleanor.48 The flowers in Kew Gardens remind Eleanor of the kiss in the past. It lingers in Eleanor’s mind and assumes a subjective existence.41 red water-lilies I'd ever seen. the objective “thing” – the flowers – is transformed into a subjective emotion in Eleanor’s mind.56. The lingering “kiss” in “Kew Gardens” is reminiscent of Pound’s idea in “A Retrospect” that “[o]nly emotion endures”. And suddenly a kiss. In this way. the 48 49 The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf. the “kiss” exists neither in a point-like moment. I took out my watch and marked the hour when I would allow myself to think of the kiss for five minutes only – it was so precious – the kiss of an old grey-haired woman with a wart on her nose. the mother of all my kisses all my life.14. there on the back of my neck. p. nor does it exist “for five minutes only”. And my hand shook all the afternoon so that I couldn't paint. p.
blunt. faint blue with the veils of madonnas. p32.42 “kiss” surfaces into the present and exists in the distentio animi of the present and thus transcending the boundaries of time. But the cathedral's different. shedding dry blue scales. Their metallic blue stains the rusty iron on the beach. Slushing the water through mouth and nostrils he sings. obtuse. incense laden. and the blue closes over him dowsing the polished pebbles of his eyes.50 50 The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf. heavy with water. cold. which. Blue are the ribs of the wrecked rowing boat. The whole of the section “Blue” is quoted below: The snub-nosed monster rises to the surface and spouts through his blunt nostrils two columns of water. Strokes of blue line the black tarpaulin of his hide. . spray off into a fringe of blue beads. A wave rolls beneath the blue bells. Thrown upon the beach he lies. The relationship between the use of colours and subjective temporality can be further explained by comparing Woolf’s short story “Blue and Green” and Pound’s “The Beautiful Toilet” from Cathay. fiery-white in the centre.
43 In “Blue”. This kicks off the process of associations. A reader may contrast the volatility and movement of the whale with the calmness and stasis of the statues of Virgin Mary. Woolf describes the movement of blue as if it can flow as freely as water. the shape of blue changes from “columns” to “beads” to “line” to “pebbles” to “scales” to “ribs” to “rolls” and to “veils”. Yet. The spectrum of blue changes from watery blue to blue mixed with white to polished blue to “dry blue” to “metallic blue” tinted with red rust and to “faint blue”. It is at this point that the reader has to associate the statues of Virgin Mary with the vibrant sea animal (probably a whale) which naturally gushes water out of its nostrils. There may be an unlimited number of interpretations. I am not going to explore them one by one in depth because . a reader may also relate the changing blue water to the mental currents of Virgin Mary. The above suggests that the story follows a linear timeline. The changes in the colour’s shades and shape are also described in such detail and meticulousness that it resembles a post-impressionist painting. the sublime moment comes in the last sentence in which the “monster” is juxtaposed with “madonnas” which seem out of place in the above context.
hesitates. she puts forth a slender hand. And within. And she has married a sot. . passing the door. And she was a courtesan in the old days. Who now goes drunkenly out And leaves her too much alone. blue is the grass about the river And the willows have overfilled the close garden. The similarities between Woolf’s and Pound’s temporality can be deduced by comparing “Blue” with Pound’s “The Beautiful Toilet”: Blue.51 51 Lustra of Ezra Pound. Slender. the mistress. in the midmost of her youth.69. with the result that an image discerned by a reader exists in his/her subjectivity and transcends the boundaries of time. White. white of face.44 what I am suggesting is that the process of associations is free floating. p.
Since the Chinese character “qin” mediates somewhere between blue and green. As in the case of “Blue”.45 In the above poem. the emotion of misery lingers in the courtesan’s subjectivity. By juxtaposing the blue greenery and the white face of the courtesan. their writing also has a non-linear . which Pound translates as blue. different from post-impressionist painting. I have explained that Pound’s and Woolf’s writing is influenced by post-impressionist painting which is characterized by its depiction of changes of objective things according to a linear timeline. we have to trace the non-linear temporality in this poem. The nuances of the different tones of blue are further complicated by the Chinese character. Yet. In the above. the process of “associations” is triggered. “qin”. A large patch of blue is chaotically painted in the first two lines. In this way. we can detect a green tone in Pound’s blue. The blue patch includes the greenery-blue of the grass and the yellowish-blue of the withering willows. the different shades of blue are also described in detail. The temporality of the narrative shifts to the past memory and returns to the distentio animi of the present.
Woolf’s “impressions”. are evoked in the subjective temporality which allows them to enjoy a timeless existence. The sublime moment or instant. but in the . They are only juxtaposed with one another and neither one of them dominates. they are not set up as dichotomy. but in the feeling that comes between. in Pound’s and Woolf’s writing. like Pound’s images. the key to the sublime moment is the interactions between the objective and the subjective. Thus. the latter subjective emotions. Matz explicates the interactions thus: The literary Impressionists meant that fiction should locate itself where we have “an impression”: not in sense. cannot be evoked without its objective counterpart. though existing in the subjective temporality. there are both linear and non-linear timelines: whereas the former records objective “things”. As mentioned. not in the moment that passes.46 timeline which is subjective in nature. In his discussion of the differences between post-impressionist painting and impressionist writing. nor in the decision that lasts. Though the two timelines are very different. nor in thought.
p.52. were swinging dumb-bells this way and that. inconsiderate.54 52 Jesse Matz.52 The interactions between the objective and subjective. The mechanical and systematic striking of Big Ben is described as “leaden circles”53 which dissolve in the air: The sound of Big Ben striking the half-hour struck out between them with extraordinary vigour. make fragments suggest wholes. p. Margaret’s Church.” refer to the process in which a timeless emotion is evoked. this tension is symbolized by the tension between Big Ben and the bell of St. 2001. i. It does not choose surfaces and fragments over depths and wholes but makes surfaces show depths.47 intuition that lingers. Cambridge: University of Cambridge. London: Penguin Books. what Matz terms “mediation. and devotes itself in the undoing of such distinctions..52. If “fiction is an impression” it mediates opposite perceptual moments. In Mrs Dalloway. indifferent. Mrs Dalloway. . 53 Virginia Woolf. Literary Impressionism and Modernist Aesthetics. p1. 54 Ibid. as if a young man.e. 1992. strong.
. Margaret’s glides into the recesses of the heart and buries itself in ring after ring of sound. Margaret’s languished. and the sound expressed languor and suffering. Clarissa. the bell of St.55 The accurate pendulum of Big Ben. From the above excerpt. she says. she has been ill. which is two minutes slower than Big Ben. to be. with a tremor of delight.54. it retreats. she has to catch up with the 55 Ibid. Margaret’s Church. to disperse itself. like something alive which wants to confide itself. Margaret’s Church does not sound like “leaden circles”. which marks the official time in post-war London. keeps reminding herself and others about her party at 3 o’clock. we can infer that neither the objective temporality nor the subjective temporality dominates.48 On the other hand. at rest – like Clarissa herself […]. as the sound of St. but soft ringing. though finding it hard to keep up with the pace of post-WWI London. and the sound of St. is constantly wrestling with the bell tolling in St.. In order to survive. he thought. but not marching forward: It is half-past eleven. p. Then. It was her heart.
After explaining how a tension between objective and subjective temporality is set up in Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. her constant flashback and memory of “the moment” (when Sally kisses her on the lips) in Bourton means that she also follows the subjective temporality. I will move on to compare how a timeless emotion is evoked in the process of the interactions in Woolf’s and Pound’s writing. is doomed to death.e. By vacillating between the two extremes and refusing to stay in one temporality. who dwells in the past and fails to live in the present. This explains why Clarissa survives in the end while Septimus. Yet.49 marching of Big Ben. the objective temporality. I shall argue that the interactions which . Clarissa demonstrates how she lives in the present by nurturing herself with the pleasure of the past moment and thereby escaping the fate of suicide like Septimus. i. Margaret’s Church is compared with Clarissa’s heart. This explains why the bell of St.
an emotion is uplifted from the past to the present and enjoys a timeless existence in the distentio ainmi of the present. In order to understand this technique. Before explaining how an extended temporality is captured through Woolf’s “tunnelling process”. Woolf has not formally and systematically defined what she means by the “tunnelling process”.50 Pound calls “associations” work in the same way as what Woolf terms the “tunnelling process”. Woolf discovered the technique of the “tunnelling process” when she . In both processes. I will first elucidate the term “tunnelling process”. phanopoeia. Unlike Pound who offers clear definitions of his concepts like imagism. melopoeia and logopoeia in his articles and manifestos. I will solicit the ubiquitous allusions to this term in her diary in which she reflects on her own style of writing.
by which I tell the past by installments. It is through this process that the past.56 In the August 30. . […] It took me a year’s groping to discover what I call my tunnelling process. When the caves come to daylight. v. This is my prime discovery so far. “‘My Tunnelling Process’: The Method of Mrs Dalloway” in Eleanor McNees. 1923 entry. 57 Virginia Woolf.51 was writing The Hours which was later renamed as Mrs Dalloway. 1994. existing in the form of memory. “Woolf was writing at her most intensive pace in the summer of 1923 while she had still conceived of Mrs Dalloway as The Hours. Mountfield: Helm Information. ed.57 As reflected in the above quote. she reflects on her narrative technique: I should say a good deal about The Hours and my discovery: how I dig out beautiful caves behind my characters: I think that gives exactly what I want. Virginia Woolf: Critical Assessments. humanity. ed. London: Hogarth Press. is summoned to the distentio animi of the present. Anne Olivier Bell.3.” in Edward Hungerford. The idea is that the caves shall connect and each comes to daylight at the present moment. as I have need of it.287-290.2. p. The Diary of Virginia Woolf. digging into the caves means tunnelling into the past. 56 According to Hungerford. While thus engaged. she cut down on the amount of literary criticism or reviewing which had been one of the bulwarks of her finances before she achieved fame. pp. depth. v. 59. 1977. the past is channelled to the present moment. humour.
the processes of interaction – “associations” and “tunnelling process” – are kicked off in which the emotions and images are rendered timeless.58 Virginia Woolf. In her essay. 58 . this “thing” is thrown into the sea of subjectivity. But it is the eye that has fertilised their thought. “Pictures” in The Moment and other Essays. Woolf discusses her literary aesthetics and comments: The whole scene. is always dominated by an emotion which has nothing to do with the eye.289. in Proust above all. combined with them. After an objective “thing” is perceived by the eye. “Pictures”. and of a subtlety hitherto unknown. however solidly and pictorially built up. Woolf’s “tunnelling process” functions in a similar way as Pound’s notion of phanopoeia and logopoeia.52 After explaining Woolf’s “tunnelling process”. Quoted in Edward Hungerford. it is the eye. that has come to the help of the other senses. “The Tunnelling Process”: The Method of Mrs Dalloway” in Virginia Woolf: Critical Assessments. Then. and produced effects of extreme beauty. Both processes involve the interplay between the eye and the mind. p. I will pursue to compare it with Pound’s “associations”.
Below is an excerpt from Canto XVII: So that the vines burst from my fingers And the bees weighted with pollen Move heavily in the vine-shoots: . The similarities between Woolf’s and Pound’s aesthetics can be illustrated by comparing Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and Pound’s The Cantos. then darts inward into the viewer’s subjectivity and is transformed into a mental existence – “an emotion”. phanopoeia refers to the throwing of the object onto the visual screen while logopoeia refers to the “associations” between the actual words on the page and the reader’s consciousness. the “extreme beauty” cannot be perceived by the eye. According to Woolf. but by the mind – “thought”.53 In the above quote. Woolf explains how a thing painted objectively on the canvas is first seen by the eye. Woolf’s explanation of the interactions between the eye and the mind reminds us of Pound’s notions of phanopoeia and logopoeia. As mentioned in Chapter 1.
the first twelve lines depict the paradise inhabited by Dionysus. . Marble trunks out of stillness. Flat water before me. The light now. And thence down to the creek’s mouth. the god of ecstasy and wine.59 In the above excerpt. until evening. with white hounds Leaping about her. And the birds sleepily in the branches. p. In the stillness. And the goddess of the fair knees Moving there.76. The green slope. with the oak-woods behind her. not of the sun. This paradise is charged with 59 The Cantos of Ezra Pound.54 chir – chir – chir-rikk – a purring sound. ZAGREUS! IO ZAGREUS! With the first pale-clear of the heaven And the cities set in their hills. On past the palazzi. And the trees growing in water.
By throwing the complex of objective “things” – the “vine shoots”.55 nature’s vitality and peace. “oak-woods”. “bees” busying to fertilize plants and “birds” sleeping in peace on the “branches”. Pound refrains from making any comparison between the two worlds and encourages the reader to see the working of phanopoeia and logopoeia. With the presence of a colon and the absence of any conjunctions or words of comparison. the heavenly paradise is not a mere contrast of its earthly counterpart. the picture depicted deviates from the heavenly paradise of the Greek gods. “trees growing on water”. “green slope”. the reader may feel . It is the earthly paradise of Venice and what is depicted is not only nature. “branches”. “marble trunks” – into our visual screen. On one hand. the reader may compare the two paradises. “creek”. the two paradises are simply juxtaposed. After the colon. but a mixture of nature and artificial architecture as epitomized by “trunks” of “marble”. the poem is punctuated by a colon. After these twelve lines. In the poem. with “vines” bursting vibrantly. “[f]lat water”. In this way.
I shall elaborate 60 61 From Canto XIV in Ibid. water-slugs. In the above. p.. On the other hand. and vulgar images like “newts.56 the atmosphere of paradiso joy and the tranquillity on earth. USURA”61 may surface into his/her present consciousness. In the following. Through the process of “associations”. I have pointed out how the “tunnelling process” functions like “associations” in Pound’s Canto XVII. the reader may find the “palazzi” on earth too artificial to be compared with the sublime natural beauty of the Greek gods’ paradise. it has transcended the boundaries of time.e. p. Since this emotion is the fruit of the interactions between the present (as perceived by the eye) and the past (as imagined by the mind). From Canto XV in Ibid. After all the above “associations”. .. an emotion of bitter-sweetness may appear in the subjectivity of the reader.64. For a reader who has read the previous Cantos. i. s/he may tunnel back to the Hell Cantos (Cantos XIV and XV).61. water-maggots” 60 and “the beast with a hundred legs. the reader may feel the strong sense of jubilance in Canto XVII. in Venice.
the similarities between the two processes with an example from Mrs Dalloway. Below is Peter’s interior monologue after Clarissa has a slip of tongue and hints at his futile proposal to her in the past:
[…] it almost broke my heart too, he thought; and was overcome with his own grief, which rose like a moon looked at from a terrace, ghastly beautiful with light from the sunken day, I was more unhappy than I’ve ever been since, he thought. And as if in truth he were sitting there on the terrace he edged a little towards Clarissa; put his hand out; raised it; let it fall. There above them it hung, that moon. She seemed to be sitting with him on the terrace, in the moonlight.62
Peter, overwhelmed by the present moment when he and Clarissa are alone by themselves again after so many years, and prompted by Clarissa’s allusion to their love in the past, tunnels back to forego moments of intimacy. The present closeness between Clarissa and him on the sofa is thrown into his visual screen and the romantic image of dating under the soft beam of “moonlight” on the “terrace” is evoked in his present
Mrs Dalloway, p.46.
consciousness. The details of the past moment which Peter reminiscences are revealed later in the book:
People began going out of the room. He heard them talking about fetching cloaks; about its being cold on the water, and so on. They were going boating on the lake by moon-light – one of Sally’s mad ideas. He could hear her describing the moon. And they all went out. He was left quite alone.63
The above excerpt suggests that the past moment under the moonlight is a poignant moment in which Peter is separated from Clarissa. Through the processes of phanopoeia and logopoeia, the emotion of romantic “grief” is evoked in Peter’s present consciousness. This emotion, which is the fruit of the interactions between the past and the present, stays in Peter’s subjectivity and transcends the boundaries of time.
The examples from Canto XVII and Mrs Dalloway illustrate how a timeless emotion is evoked through the processes of phanopoeia, logopoeia
and “tunnelling” due to the interactions between the past and the present within the temporality of the individual text. In the following, I will explore how those processes work intertextually by referring to Pound’s Canto I and Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.
Both Canto I and A Room of One’s Own begin in medias res, which means beginning in the middle of a story. The narrative technique of narrating in medias res is not anything new for the modernists. It comes from the ancient Roman poet, Horace, who suggested that all poems begin in medias res and it has since been widely applied in literary works. Even the Greek epic, Odyssey, which Pound translates in Canto I, begins in medias res. Other than starting from the beginning of Odysseus’ voyage, Odyssey starts with Odysseus being held captive on Calypso's island, which happens in the middle of his voyage. At first glance, Pound is just picking up Homer’s tradition by beginning Canto I in medias res. Yet, the difference is that in Odyssey, the temporality, though disrupted and becomes achronological, is still within the temporal frame of the events narrated. On
64 The Cantos of Ezra Pound.60 the other hand.3. Like Odysseus who has to plunge into Hades to talk to the dead. In this way. Pound. which begins with “And then”64 suggests that the story is a continuation of a prior story. In this sense. . In Canto I. Pound has to experience life in Hell (as described in the Hell Cantos) in order to come to life again. p. The past experience of Odysseus is then brought into the present and interacts with the present experience of Pound himself. Pound is trying to write an American epic. in regard to his own life. the technique of narrating in medias res immediately kicks off the processes of phanopoeia and logopoeia through which the image is brought into the distentio animi of the present and becomes timeless. is bound to encounter as many difficulties as Odysseus who is fated to struggle in the angry seas of Neptune. Pound seems to share Odysseus’ journey which is full of obstacles. In regard to the tradition of writing. Canto I. in his determination to proclaim his ideas and make them afloat on the literary seas. the temporality is extended beyond the temporal narrative of The Cantos.
p. From this he is reborn and purged of the aestheticism of his earlier verse. In these two texts. 1995. in medias res has the effect of breaking the boundaries of time of the texts. . The use of in medias res in Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own is similar to that in Canto I. As John suggests. Salzburg: University of Salzbury. The Cantos is brought beyond the boundaries of time. A Room of One’s Own begins with “But”. If the “And then” at the beginning of Canto I suggests a continuation of the tradition of epic (not in the sense 65 Roland John. Odysseus/Pound has to return to the beginning and undergo an act of purification by the descent into the Underworld. but also Pound. The Cantos is to be a new start.61 the narrator in Canto I is not only Odysseus. A Beginner’s Guide to the Cantos of Ezra Pound.65 Through the associations of Homer’s epic and Pound’s epic as well as Odysseus’s journey and Pound’s journey. Whereas Canto I begins with “And then”.11.
66 In the above excerpt. . 66 Virginia Woolf. […] All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point – a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction […]. the “But” right at the beginning of A Room of One’s Own underpins a break away from tradition.7. A Room of One’s Own. The beginning of A Room of One’s Own is quoted below: But.62 of duplication. she would have to write in the common sitting-room. we asked you to speak about women and fiction – what has that got to do with a room of one’s own? I will try to explain. London: Flamingo. 1994. And. but a transference from Greek to American). Woolf interrupts the traditional masculine discourse in literature and calls for a digression from the mainstream. you may say. p. Woolf is annoyed by the fact that a woman cannot concentrate on her writing because she has no private space and has to stay in the common sitting-room to entertain her family members and guests at home: If a woman wrote.
56. p. Woolf does not rule out the fact that some women have trespassed the men’s turf and have written and published their works. . Yet most of them only exist as Anon due to the traditional belief: […] that publicity in women is detestable. that means they are denied access to stand on it.68 If women writers can only exist as nobody in the literary stage... This can also be illustrated by Woolf’s being denied access to “Oxbridge”. .73. Anonymity runs in their blood. that they can call their own” – she was always interrupted. Ibid. the tradition left by the published literary writers is ultimately masculine. The desire to be veiled still possesses them. p. .67 Since women are shut out from the turf of men. She complains: 67 68 Ibid.63 as Miss Nightingale was so vehemently to complain. – “women never have an half hour .
. p. like Coleridge. Woolf asserts the need for women to start writing and establish their own tradition. Only the Fellows and Scholars are allowed here. etc. which embodies the idea of digression. Woolf pioneers a new writing style and invites the reader to tunnel into the literary legacy left by the male literary icons. Through the interactions and “associations” between the past and the present narratives. Wordsworth. her text (which vacillates among a novel. like history. 69 Ibid. In this way.10.69 In order to break this bias tradition. etc. Tennyson. an image is evoked. The image. the gravel is the place for me. By beginning A Room of One’s Own with the conjunction “But”. a biography or history…) is juxtaposed with those cannons which are categorized systematically into different genres. philosophy. there was the path. Byron. Browning. Keats.64 This was the turf. biography. is evoked in the present consciousness of a reader. .
If a reader has read “Mr. Mr. Galsworthy who are criticized by Woolf. Wells. Brown”. pp. For instance. In this chapter. Virginia Woolf. Brown”71. 70 71 “Modern Fiction” in The Common Reader. “Mr. By comparing Canto XVII and Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway.146-154. s/he may reflect on the definition of a novel or the technique of characterization. Through the interactions between the objective. Bennett and Mrs.90-111. “Modern Fiction”70.65 This image of digression is free-floating and its meaning depends on each individual reader’s “tunnelling process” and “associations”. All these suggest that the image can multiply and proliferate and extend beyond the boundaries of time. . I have compared the temporality of Woolf’s and Pound’s texts. non-linear temporality. if a reader has read Woolf’s essay. Bennett and Mrs. pp. I have argued that an image can be evoked both within the narrative of the text and intertextually. Their temporality is both synchronic and diachronic. the processes of “tunnelling process” and “associations” are triggered. s/he may recall Mr. Bennett and Mr. in The Common Reader. and Canto I and A Room of One’s Own. linear temporality and the subjective.
surfaces into the present and exists in the distentio animi of the present and becomes timeless. after being dug up from the past.66 This image. .
the introduction of the psychological theories by Freud.67 Conclusion The understanding of temporality is crucial to the understanding of modernism which is perceived as a departure from tradition. like the First World War. intensified either due to an individual’s identity as a person in exile or as a woman. The consequence was that the relation between the past and the present was no longer seen or understood as linear or organic. has prompted many modernist writers to look for new approaches or new narrative techniques to understand the relationship between the past. The sense of displacement. Pound and Woolf have consciously experienced new forms and narratives in . the present and the future. the world witnessed a discontinuity in history. This explains why the sense of alienation and displacement prevailed in the modernist era. the socialist ideologies by Marx and the philosophical theories by Nietzsche. Largely due to the political and ideological changes in the early twentieth century.
In the present dissertation. while through the latter. in my research on the topic of temporality.e.68 their works in order to capture this fragmented and alienated experience. the objective “things” like “rustling of silk” and “a wet leaf”72 are directly described. subjective time can be found in Pound’s and Woolf’s works. and concrete and wavy rhetoric. like masculine and feminine ideology. I have suggested that two different timelines. In “Liu Ch’e”. I have found some significant similarities between Pound’s and Woolf’s aesthetics. an emotion 72 Lustra of Ezra Pound. Yet. an emotion which stretches backward into the past and forward into the present is evoked. for example. i.43. Pound emphasizes both the concrete “things” which exist in the objective time and emotions which exist in the subjective time. the linear. Through the former. hard and soft language. p. In Pound’s poems. A comparison of Pound’s and Woolf’s literary aesthetics may stimulate a series of antitheses. objective time and the non-linear. .
This idea of . In this sense. the objective thing seen by the eye will turn into a subjective mood perceived by the mind which is not bounded by time limits. Pound and Woolf share the same view that there are both objective and subjective timelines which are not separated. Pound proclaims his idea of phanopoeia and logopoeia and suggests that through interactions. In “Kew Gardens”. the objective timeline traces the people walking in the Kew Gardens. the subjective time is extended and can transcend the boundaries of time. talking to their companions beside the plants and flowers.69 which stretches from the present into the future is evoked. for example. but interrelated. This shows that the objective and subjective timelines are juxtaposed. Another timeline. the subjective timeline. It is in this way that imagery evoked in an “instant” can become timeless. This juxtaposition can also be found in Woolf’s short stories and novels. traces the memory of the people who are thinking about their companions in the past. Both Pound and Woolf suggest that there are interactions between the two timelines with the result that a timeless emotion is epitomized.
From the comparisons of Canto XVII and Mrs Dalloway. the temporality of A Room of One’s Own stretches from the literary tradition in the Georgian era to the Victorian era. while the temporality of Canto I stretches from Homer’s Odyssey in the ancient time to Pound’s The Cantos in the twentieth century. In the above texts. While the temporality of Canto XVII stretches from the ancient Greek paradise in Mount Olympus to the post-war paradise in Venice.70 interactions works in a similar way as Woolf’s “tunnelling process” in which a past emotion is triggered by a present “thing” in a moment and becomes timeless. It is so charged with energy because it has enlisted the energy which has been stored in the subjective time from the past to the present. the moment of Clarissa in Mrs Dalloway stretches from her past in Bourton to her present in London. They both refer to a temporal extension which is charged with the maximum energy and momentum. the temporality . and Canto I and A Room of One’s Own. we can discern that what Pound calls “instant” and what Woolf calls “moment” are very similar in nature.
.. which keeps moving backward and thus moving forward in the subjective time.65. All the energized past. 1966. is pregnant in the vortex. is endowed with the most vigorous emotions.73 73 Ezra Pound. NOW. All the past that is vital. the distentio animi of the present. the present and the future.. p. All MOMENTUM.e.. . Guide to Kulchur.71 is one encompassing the past. which is the past bearing upon us. In this sense. all the past that is capable of living into the future. London: Peter Owen. i. Pound’s “instant” and Woolf’s “moment” attest to Pound’s notion of a vortex: The vortex is the point of maximum energy. the present. By retrieving the past into the present.. all the past that is living and worthy to live..