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Ambition and Anxiety Ezra Pound's <i>Cantos</i> and Derek Walcott's <i>Omeros</i> as Twentieth-Century Epics by Line Henriksen

Ambition and Anxiety Ezra Pound's Cantos and Derek Walcott's Omeros as Twentieth-Century Epics

Part of the Cross/Cultures Series


Ambition and Anxiety Ezra Pound's Cantos and Derek Walcott's Omeros as Twentieth-Century Epics by Line Henriksen

This comparative study investigates the epic lineage that can be traced back from Derek Walcott's Omeros and Ezra Pound's Cantos through Dante's Divina Commedia to the epic poems of Virgil and Homer, and identifies and discusses in detail a number of recurrent key topoi. A fresh definition of the concept of genre is worked out and presented, based on readings of Homer. The study reads Pound's and Walcott's poetics in the light of Roman Jakobson's notions of metonymy and metaphor, placing their long poems at the respective opposite ends of these language poles. The notion of `epic ambition' refers to the poetic prestige attached to the epic genre, whereas the (non-Bloomian) `anxiety' occurs when the poet faces not only the risk that his project might fail, but especially the moral implications of that ambition and the fear that it might prove presumptuous. The drafts of Walcott's Omeros are here examined for the first time, and attention is also devoted to Pound's creative procedures as illustrated by the drafts of the Cantos. Although there has already been an intermittent critical focus on the `classical' (and `Dantean') antecedents of Walcott's poetry, the present study is the first to bring together the whole range of epic intertextualities underlying Omeros, and the first to read this Caribbean masterpiece in the context of Pound's achievement.


This book has been awarded the Anna Balakian Prize of the International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA)

About the Author

LINE HENRIKSEN is an assistant professor at Copenhagen Business School and lives in Copenhagen and Brussels. She has an MA from York University (UK) and a doctorate from Copenhagen University, and is a trained conference interpreter. She has always been fascinated by Homer and Dante, and studied filologia Dantesca at the University of Florence as an undergraduate.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st January 2006


Line Henriksen

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Editions Rodopi B.V. an imprint of Brill


342 pages


Literary studies: poetry & poets
Literary studies: from c 1900 -



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