18 feb. 2009

Here are the highly unscientific results. This little survey told me exactly what I wanted to know. 6 Rilkes. 4 Eliots. Lots of Williams and Pound and Stevens. Modernism seems a mostly European and American phenomenon. Nobody put down Vallejo, not even me, so only Césaire and Neruda represent the non-English speaking Americas. Nobody from any other continent (aside from Europe and the Americas) except for Tagore. In time frame people stuck mostly to the 1910-1939 period, varying from that only for French symbolists and a few late moderns like Milosz and Celan. No Italian poets made the list. There would be no Greeks or Portuguese without my own names, and only Lorca was mentioned from Spain, by myself and one other respondent.

I'm trying to argue that there is no fixed canon of modernism in an international sense. There was more agreement than I thought there would be, so I'm going to have to shade my argument slightly to account for that.

These are all the poets listed, in order of respondent.

Mallarmé
Mandelstam
Rilke
Yeats
Stevens

Eliot
Pound
Rilke
Stevens
Milosz

Rimbaud
Baudelaire
Rilke
Pound
Williams
Celan

Apollinaire
Moore
WCW
Eliot
Stein
Mayakowsky
Lorca

Stein,
Pound
Apollinaire,
Khlebnikov,
WC Williams

Ezra Pound
T.S. Eliot
WC Williams
Pablo Neruda
Andre Breton

Eliot
Lorca
Rilke
Pessoa
Cavafy

Pound
Rilke
Stein,
Rimbaud
Cesaire

Tagore

5 comentarios:

mongibeddu dijo...

I wanted to list one poet each from five languages, and only those whose work I felt I was able to judge on more than hearsay, and only those whose contributions remain generative both to me and their particular languages / national literatures. I had, chronologically by birth:

Marianne Moore (b. 1887)
Osip Mandelstam (b. 1891)
Giorgio Caproni (b. 1912)
Paul Celan (b. 1920)

But I bogged down on the fifth, not finding one who met all the criteria, though I came close to adding Neruda (I wish I'd spent more time with Vallejo, Huidobro, Guillen, or Vallejo). I might have named Valery or Jabes for their prose, but that seemed silly when I value it one-quarter as much as I do Derrida's. I didn't even think of Cavafy until I saw his name on someone else's list (I have a poem for him in one of my books, an old enthusiasm I haven't thought about recently). Of course I could always add more English-language writers, but it seemed to me the list should either be international through and through or monolingual. And for anglophone poetry outside the U.S. I'd want to stretch outside the bounds of what I consider modernism, before or after (and Yeats...oh the horror).

Anyway, thought these limits on my knowledge (and curiosity too, I suppose) might be useful empirical data for your study.

Ben F.

Jonathan dijo...

Thanks, Ben. My list of Eliot, Lorca, Rilke, Pessoa, Cavafy has five languages on purpose, though I left out French, as you did. If I put in a French guy it would have been Reverdy. I have never heard of Caproni, so I'll have to check him out. People swear by Mandelstam, but I can't read Russian. Moore is also an interesting choice. I didn't think people read her anymore so it's nice to know I'm wrong. Stein and she are the only women anyone mentioned. Of course, most all my respondents were male too!

John dijo...

5 Pound, 4 Williams, 3 Stein.

I thought about Marinetti, but decided against him because it's the manifestos that sway me, and I was (perhaps wrongly) distinguishing them from poems. He's the paradigmatic manifesto-ist, though, and manifesto-ism is a main modernist strain.

I was surprised, not unpleasantly, to see so much Eliot; Moore too.

françois dijo...

No Cendrars or Lautréamont? Georg Trakl?

Thomas Basbøll dijo...

Breton was a wildcard entry from my side. I was considering Rilke and Lorca. I decided that Rilke is actually a precursor to modernism, not himself a modernist, and I don't know anything about Lorca. I feel sort of good, though, that so many others also reached for Rilke. I have to admit, also, that I put in Neruda precisely to get off the obvious continents (which Jonathan's post sort of encouraged us to do). I don't know if I would have thought of him if the question had been more tersely put: "Wot are THE five major modernist poets? Name 'em. Don't bullshit me." I would probably have given you five anglophones, actually.