Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, 109 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Eric Keenaghan


20th-Century American Poetry, English Translation of Chinese Classic Poetry, Ezra Pound, Kenneth Rexroth, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Translation Studies, Chinese poetry, Translators, Translating and interpreting, Cultural property

Subject Categories

Asian Studies | Comparative Literature | English Language and Literature


Although the translation of Chinese texts by modernist poets has been acknowledged by critics, the implications of this cultural exchange between China and America has not generated substantial critical study. Using Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theory of language, this thesis examines this cultural dialogue through the work of Ernest Fenollosa, Ezra Pound and Kenneth Rexroth. Restoring Fenollosa’s pioneering role, a chapter of this thesis uncovers his unfinished project of a fusion of East and West, and exposes his imperialist and nationalist attitudes that later result in appropriation. Reexamining Pound’s engagement with Chinese texts throughout his career, another chapter of this thesis argues Pound had developed his ideogrammic poetics from misunderstandings of Chinese characters in order to “make it new.” With more comprehensive knowledge of Chinese language and poetry, Rexroth, as argued in the last chapter, takes the context of the poems into consideration. He sympathizes with ancient Chinese poets and achieves a mystical anarchism through translation and poetry.