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The Idea of a Colony

The Idea of a Colony: Cross-culturalism in Modern Poetry

Edward Marx
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 260
  • Book Info
    The Idea of a Colony
    Book Description:

    InThe Idea of a Colony, Edward Marx provides a comprehensive approach to the question of cross-culturalism in modern poetry. He situates the work of canonical British and American modernist poets - Eliot, Pound, Stevens, Brooke, Kipling, and Flecker - in dialogue with the work of non-Western, colonial, and minority poets - Tagore, Naidu, Violet Nicolson - and brings into the discussion the poets of the Harlem Renaissance.

    Drawing on psychological and cultural theory, Marx argues that primitivism and exoticism were the main forms of cross-culturalism in the modern period, and that these forms were organized around repression of the unconscious and irrational. To the psychological scene of the primitive/exotic poem and its reception, which is explored through substantial archival research, Marx brings an array of approaches including the theories of Freud, Jung, Lacan, Said, Foucault, Bhabha, Fanon, and others. The result is a series of powerful new readings of canonical modernists and a welcome expansion of the field of modern poetry into the age of multiculturalism and postcoloniality.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8147-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-15)

    ‘We no longer know the history of the poetry of the first half of the century,’ Gary Nelson observed in his 1989 study,Repression and Recovery. ‘Most of us, moreover, do not know that the knowledge is gone.’³ One could say that the history of early twentieth-century poetry has never really been known; it is the poetry itself that has been forgotten. Our knowledge clusters around a handful of major modernist poets, whose works provide a challenging field for the efforts of scholars and students, and readers of modern poetry tend to venture down poetic roads less travelled less often...

  5. Chapter One The Spell of Far Arabia: James Elroy Flecker’s Islamic Near East
    (pp. 16-25)

    ‘His dreams of the East and Greece were born with him ... but his hankering long antedated his travels,’ wrote J.C. Squire of James Elroy Flecker in his introduction to Flecker’sCollected Poems, published in 1916, a year after Flecker’s death.¹ Flecker’s exotic fantasies were undoubtedly formed in his childhood, and I will suggest that they grew out of his troubled relationship with his father, who was also his schoolmaster at Dean Close from the time he was eight years old. Flecker, his biographer John Sherwood writes, ‘was far too individualist, far too egotistical to mix happily with the normal...

  6. Chapter Two The Ends of the Earth: Rudyard Kipling’s Afghanistan
    (pp. 26-38)

    The preceding chapter examined the common exoticist theme of the belated traveller as a characteristic shape of the encounter with the shadow, and suggested that the experience of failure in the encounter with the exotic object may be understood as a symptom of its non-identity with the unconscious projection. In Flecker’s life and in his play,Hassan, this non-identity is reflected in the themes of disappointment, failure, and punishment. But the belated traveller is by no means the only fate of the exotic quest. It is, of course, an alternative to another fate, that of the successful heroic journey. Jung...

  7. Chapter Three The Exotic Transgressions of ‘Laurence Hope’
    (pp. 39-48)

    When we think of the poetry of British imperialism, we tend to think of the male poets who sang its praises or criticized its methods – poets such as Kipling, Henley, Newbolt, Lyall, and Blunt, perhaps Yeats – or the male poets enthralled by the exotic, Edwin Arnold or James Elroy Flecker. But the colonies also produced many women poets, although their names have been largely forgotten – women such as Emma Roberts, whoseOriental Scenes,Sketches,and Talesappeared in 1832, Mary Carshore of Rajapore, whoseSongs of the Eastwas published in 1855, and Mary Leslie, whoseSorrows,...

  8. Chapter Four Everybody’s Anima: Sarojini Naidu as Nightingale and Nationalist
    (pp. 49-62)

    In April 1917Poetrymagazine ‘discovered’ Sarojini Naidu’s first book of poetry,The Golden Threshold, first published a dozen years earlier. In part it was Arthur Symons’s glowing introduction that caught the attention of the reviewer, Eunice Tietjens, yet Tietjens, at the time deeply entranced by the Orient, was also captivated by the ‘elusive personality of this young Hindu woman,’ whose poems she found ‘strangely alluring.’ ‘These are subtle, delicately-wrought lyrics, self-conscious with the same quiet poise that pervades the Hindu classics, a poise that disregards with mystic certainty the confusing sense of the plurality of the universe which colors...

  9. Chapter Five The Tagore Era
    (pp. 63-83)

    In the summer of 1912, a new poet appeared on the English literary scene. Though fifty years old and a literary legend in his native Bengal, Rabindranath Tagore was almost entirely unknown in the West, and his sudden emergence as a leading literary figure was the most talked-about development in English letters in 1913. English literary society, colonial discourse, spiritualism, and international relations all came together to produce the new discursive object, ‘Tagore,’ and its associated event, the ‘Tagore craze.’ ‘There is little doubt that what some people are largely calling the “Indian Renaissance,” but which may be better described...

  10. Chapter Six The Childhood That Never Was: Rupert Brooke’s Primitive Paradise
    (pp. 84-95)

    In October 1913 the English poet Rupert Brooke, having spent the previous months travelling across the United States, departed by ship bound for the South Seas. Brooke was the flower of the emerging Georgian poets, and the leader of a group of youthful, rebellious, and idealistic intellectuals who enjoyed such primitivistic pastimes as nudism and camping out: ‘the Neo-Pagans,’ as Virginia Stephen, his childhood friend, dubbed them. Members of the group, including Brooke and James Strachey (later Freud’s patient and translator), experimented with homosexuality and questioned received sexual mores of the time. As a member of this group of self-styled...

  11. Chapter Seven The Infant Gargantua on the Wet, Black Bough: Pound’s Chinese Object Relations
    (pp. 96-118)

    When Ezra Pound first met Rabindranath Tagore in October 1912, he told his fiancée, Dorothy Shakespear, that the Bengali poet made him feel ‘like a painted pict with a stone war club.’ It was a felicitous comparison: Pound, the aggressive, flamboyant, barbarian poet from America, had much in common with the warlike, pre-Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of the British Isles, whose name, given by the Romans, denoted their habit of body-decoration. The spiritual, pacifistic Tagore, simple and dignified in manner and dress, was just the person to make Pound self-conscious about his aggressive, dandified persona.

    The opposition between Pound and Tagore offers...

  12. Chapter Eight The Red Man in the Drawing Room: T.S. Eliot and the Nativists
    (pp. 119-135)

    ‘War-Paint and Feathers,’ by T.S. Eliot, appeared in the 17 October 1919 number of the London periodicalThe Nation and Athenaeum. It begins as follows:

    The Ustumsjiji are a vanishing race. The last repositories of the Monophysite heresy, persecuted and massacred for centuries (on religious grounds) by the Armenians, the remnants of a unique civilization have taken refuge in the remote gorges of the Akim-Baba Range. Here the explorer discovered them, and was privileged to hear their Shikkamim, or wandering bards, prophets, and medicine-men, recite or chant, to the music of the pippin or one-stringed gourd, the traditional poetry of...

  13. Chapter Nine The Last Nostalgia: Wallace Stevens in the Shadow of the Other
    (pp. 136-162)

    In the previous chapters I have taken the position of the analyst attempting to discover the meanings of the primitive and exotic as symptoms of repressions in modern poets and their readers. But what happens when a poet, armed with some familiarity with psychoanalytic theory, a philosophical inclination, and an accommodating attitude toward the contents of his unconscious, takes up as a conscious poetic project the pursuit of the primitive and exotic into the space of the unconscious? The conjunction of poetry and analysis that we find in the case of Wallace Stevens is one possible result, and one that...

  14. Chapter Ten Forgotten Jungle Songs: Ambivalent Primitivisms of the Harlem Renaissance
    (pp. 163-178)

    Given the widespread deployment of primitivist strategies in American literary writing in the decades preceding the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, it was inevitable that Black writers of the period should come to assess their validity and applicability to questions of Black identities. Virtually all race theories of the day portrayed African cultures (more commonly, African ‘culture’ or the lack thereof) as primitive; the least objectionable to many Black writers were those that at least attributed a positive value to this primitive state. In the new interest in primitivism, some Black writers recognized the possibility of cultural critique by modifying...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 179-204)
  16. Index
    (pp. 205-213)