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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Love as an ordering principle in Cavalcanti, Pound and Robert Duncan Westbrook, Ralph Robert


The purpose of this thesis is to offer some explination of the manner in which Ezra Pound has created a metaphysical centre for The Cantos through absorption and integration of the Renaissance metaphysic of courtly and transcendent love and the pragmatic ethical philosophy of Confucius. It resolves no problems, either textual or critical, but rather suggests that the thirty-sixth Canto is central to the philosophy underlying the poem as a whole. From the central fourth chaper, the thesis attempts to give some idea of the nature of Pound's influence upon one other poet and how this influence has resulted in a new evaluation of the original Cavalcanti material. The short intoductory chapter outlines the nature of the problem of love as an ordering principle which provides a reconciliation of the disparate and seemingly opposing forces which shape human experience. This unity, it is stated, represents an attempt on the part of western man to integrate his dualistic response to the world of Process, an essentially eastern concept. Chapter two outlines the nature of Cavalcanti's poem and the philosophy of love which it contains. Apparently, this poem has yet to be interpreted with any degree of finality and I have necessarily had to work through the general concensus of critical opinion. The third chapter points to Pound's conception of the philosophy of Guido Cavalcanti's canzon and how Pound has interpreted the "guerdon" of the amour courtois tradition as the Confucian doctrine of li. Chapter four explores the connexion between Pound's conception and interpretation of Donna Me Prega and how, from the concept of individual compassion, Pound envisions a viable order for the society of western man, while continually maintaining the concept of the universe as Process. The fifth chapter deals with Robert Duncan's stated variation on Pound's view of Donna Me Prega and the philosophy contained therein, and offers some comments on the different possibilities of order, or lack of same, as expressed by Duncan. The conclusion discusses the metaphysical concept of love as a principle of unity in relation to some modern statements of epistemology and aesthetics, and concludes that Pound has expressed the sense of order and unity in a more universal and objective manner than has Duncan. The addendum of chapter seven suggests some possibilities for further research into these areas and concludes that Ezra Pound's consciousness of the Processal universe is essentially oriental, ie., an aesthetic response, while the concept remains largely an intellectual postulate in the western world. On the whole, the primary concern is for the explanation of the relationship among such elements as imagination, transcendent love, human social order, and the concept of the universe as an all-embracing Process of interacting elements.

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