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Cathay: A Critical Edition


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Table of Contents

Foreword: The Archive of Cathay
Haun Saussy

Introduction: From the Decipherings
Christopher Bush

Editor's Introduction: Cracking the Crib
Timothy Billings

Cathay (1915)
Ezra Pound
Front Matter to Cathay
"Song of the Bowmen of Shu"
"The Beautiful Toilet"
"The River Song"
"The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter"
"The Jewel Stairs' Grievance"
"Poem by the Bridge at Ten-shin"
"Lament of the Frontier Guard"
"Exile's Letter"
"The Seafarer"
"Light rain is on the light dust"
"Separation on the River Kiang"
"Taking Leave of a Friend"
"Leave-Taking Near Shoku"
"The City of Choan"
"South-Folk in Cold Country"
Back matter to Cathay Lustra (1916): The Chinese Poems
Ezra Pound
Additions to Cathay
"Sennin Poem by Kakuhaku"
"A Ballad of the Mulberry Road"
"Old Idea of Choan by Rosoriu"
"To-Em-Mei's 'The Unmoving Cloud'"

Miscellaneous Poems

"After Chu Yuan"
"Liu Ch'e"
"Fan Piece for Her Imperial Lord"
"Ts'ai Chi'h"
"Ancient Wisdom Rather Cosmic"
"Epitaphs / Fu I"

The Little Review (1918): Two Translations

Ezra Pound
"Dawn on the Mountain"
"Wine"Cribs for Cathay & Other Poems
Ernest Fenollosa, et al.
Editorial Conventions
Front Matter to Cathay
"Song of the Bowmen of Shu" (Classic of Poetry 167)
"The Beautiful Toilet" (attrib. Mei Sheng )
"The River Song" (Li Bo )
"The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter" (Li Bo )
"The Jewel Stairs' Grievance" (Li Bo )
"Poem by the Bridge at Ten-shin" (Li Bo )
"Lament of the Frontier Guard" (Li Bo )
"Exile's Letter" (Li Bo )
"The Seafarer" (Anonymous)
"Light rain is on the light dust" (Wang Wei )
"Separation on the River Kiang" (Li Bo )
"Taking Leave of a Friend" (Li Bo )
"Leave-Taking Near Shoku" (Li Bo )
"The City of Choan" (Li Bo )
"South-Folk in Cold Country" (Li Bo )
Back matter to Cathay
"Sennin Poem by Kakuhaku" (Guo Pu )
"A Ballad of the Mulberry Road" (Anonymous)
"Old Idea of Choan by Rosoriu" (Lu Zhaolin )
"To-Em-Mei's 'The Unmoving Cloud'" (Tao Yuanming )
"After Chu Yuan" ( Qu Yuan)
"Liu Ch'e" (Liu Che )
"Fan Piece for Her Imperial Lord" (attrib. Ban Jieyu )
"Ts'ai Chi'h" (Pound)
"Ancient Wisdom Rather Cosmic" (Li Bo )
"Epitaphs / Fu I" (Fu Yi ) and "Li Po" (Pound)
"Dawn on the Mountain" (Wang Wei )
"Wine" (Li Bo )Chinese Poetry (1918)
Ezra Pound

About the Author

Ezra Pound (Author)
Ezra Pound (1884-1972) was a leading Modernist poet and the driving force behind Imagism and Vorticism.
Timothy Billings (Edited By)
Timothy Billings is Professor of English and American Literatures at Middlebury College. With Christopher Bush, he edited and translated Victor Segalen's Steles / (Wesleyan, 2007), which won the Aldo and Jean Scaglione Prize for Best Translation of a Literary Work. He has also edited and translated Matteo Ricci's On Friendship: One Hundred Maxims for a Chinese Prince (Columbia, 2009) and is the editor of Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost (Internet Shakespeare Editions, University of Victoria).
Haun Saussy (Foreword By)
Haun Saussy is University Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago. He won the Rene Wellek Prize for Comparative Literature (for the second time) for his most recent book, Translation as Citation: Zhuangzi Inside Out (Oxford, 2018). His book The Ethnography of Rhythm: Orality and Its Technologies (Fordham, 2016) was awarded the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies.
Christopher Bush (Introducer)
Christopher Bush is Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University and the author of Ideographic Modernism: China, Writing, Media (Oxford, 2010).


Timothy Billings has given us a stunning, masterful edition of a book that reinvented two worlds and made modern poetry possible.---William Logan, The New Criterion
A miracle of poetic reincarnation, Ezra Pound's Cathay finally gets a comprehensive and thorough treatment in this critical edition. A marvel of scholarship that will be required reading for all students of poetry. -- Yunte Huang, author of Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History
A feat of archival scholarship and patient deciphering. Cathay emerges from this critical edition not as the work of a single man, but as a multiply authored enterprise, animated by the erudition of Japanese professors Mori Kainan and Ariga Nagao; the notes of Ernest Fenollosa; and the chutzpah of a young Ezra Pound. Pairing Pound's compositions with the cribs he used and the Chinese originals he couldn't read, Timothy Billings makes available, for the first time, the layer upon layer of mediation that went into this collective masterpiece, tracing a conversational arc that extends from the Bronze Age to the twentieth century. -- Wai Chee Dimock, Yale University
This is an extraordinary book. Not just because of Pound's poetry, whose verbal force still resonates with us today, but because, as an edition, it puts us face to face with the possibility of an interpretation that knows everything it needs to know. This is a book for teaching, for learning, and finally, for reading for pleasure-the pleasure of the poems, yes, and the pleasure of seeing in the poems the complex linguistic and conceptual histories, and accidents, that made them what they are today. -- Eric Hayot, Pennsylvania State University
An astounding work of scholarship that lays to rest at long last the myths and muddles surrounding Ezra Pound's 'Chinese' poems. Billings's painstaking erudition brilliantly illuminates just how collective poetic creation can be. Of great relevance to students of modern poetry and to all those with interests in transmission, translation studies, and cultural appropriation. I cannot recommend this beautifully published book too highly. -- David Bellos, Princeton University
Cathay has, in a word, become a part of world literature. . . . If Pound's translations are in many respects mistaken, they are among the most generative mistakes in world literary history. . . . Historically the poems of Cathay were already links in a chain of translation (or 'translation') practices by the time Pound got to them. Rather than understanding this as one more degree of inauthenticity, we might think of Fenollosa and then Pound as additional links in the 'Sinosphere,' a world of letters in which important aspects of 'the original' are bracketed (so that the rest might travel more freely) and texts do not necessarily belong to their sites or moments of origin, but rather to that most exotic and indecipherable time and place in all of history: 'our time.' -- Christopher Bush, from the Introduction
This edition . . . supplements the Cathay long known to readers-an English-language collection with an invisible, remotely guessed-at Chinese background-with an archive of sequential conversations leading us back from the modernism of 1915 to the protest verse of the Bronze Age. . . . The Chinese 'original,' the mirror-image of Pound's Cathay, has long occupied the space of an itch in the minds of poetry-readers. That original is a phantasm: Pound did not of course, translate directly from the Chinese, and what he did versify often corresponds to no Chinese original . . . . The double Cathay given here restores to history the composition process as it passed through a series of authors in a series of languages over some three thousand years; it creates, as a hron, what never was. Let it stand as 'the invention of Cathay for our time.' -- Haun Saussy, from the Foreword
Beginning with the beautifully prepared book itself and the well-written scholarship, there is no end of delight with Cathay: A Critical Edition. It starts with the qualified achievement of Pound's original works, and only increases through each part of the precise and far-reaching research. * American Microreviews & Interviews *
This critical edition will be indispensable for the discussion of Pound's early relation to China, and not least for our understanding of how Pound worked on his translations. * Textual Cultures *
...Timothy Billings's Cathay: A Critical Edition presents a meticulously researched textual guide to the composition of Pound's 1915 breakthrough of translations (or "translations") from Chinese poetry. * University Bookman *

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