Marianne Moore and China: Orientalism and a Writing of America

Hardcover | December 16, 1999

byCynthia Stamy

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Marianne Moore's poetry offers an extraordinarily rich site from which to analyse a tradition of American orientalism which focused upon China. Marianne Moore and China examines why she chose to participate in that tradition and analyses why her borrowing of Chinese models of all kinds - frompoetry to painting and philosophy - was so critical to the formation of her verse. Moore's poetry is part of a long tradition of satirical critique in orientalist writing which finds its roots in English literature. In the early twentieth century, this tradition of critique in orientalist prose wasadopted by American poets, who borrowed Far Eastern poetic models to permanently transform the ways in which poetry in English was being written by launching a literary assault upon what they saw as outmoded methods of versification. Moore used the Far East to express her own dissatisfaction withcontemporary trends in the writing of poetry, and embraced the more ancient culture of China as a means of resisting the American habit of looking to Europe as a singular source of cultural tradition 'at home'. Moore employed features of the ancient Chinese fu technique in her poems and used images of Chinese supernatural creatures in an effort to establish an alternative to logic and narrative linearity and to facilitate the moral didacticism for which her poetry is known. Moore's use of Chinese paintingtheory and philosophy in the creation of her poems enabled her to explore alternatives to Western perspectival principles and to Western ways of narrating visual experience. Marianne Moore and China also examines the ways in which Chinese linguistic features provide Moore with models for hercompound nouns and syntactical ellipses, and gathers evidence to show that her abiding concerns for precision, brevity and restraint have both Confucian and Puritan antecedents. Additionally, this book analyses the degree to which her collection of quotations, from which she fashions so many of herpoems, and her citation of them in numerous appended notes, are complicit in the same process of acquisition and display which characterizes the activity of the museum, the preoccupations of the curio-collector, and the pursuit of minute detail in orientalist discourse generally. Moore's consistentingenuity in employing Chinese forms and methods makes her work a particularly fruitful source for investigating orientalism and its contribution to modern poetry.

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From the Publisher

Marianne Moore's poetry offers an extraordinarily rich site from which to analyse a tradition of American orientalism which focused upon China. Marianne Moore and China examines why she chose to participate in that tradition and analyses why her borrowing of Chinese models of all kinds - frompoetry to painting and philosophy - was so c...

Cynthia Stamy is Visiting Fellow at the University of London School of Advanced Study, 1998-
Format:HardcoverPublished:December 16, 1999Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198184603

ISBN - 13:9780198184607

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