Summarize Pound's attitude toward adjectives.


Ezra Pound

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sullymonster's profile pic

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I really like that question! Ezra Pound was an imagist, a modern 20th century poet who believed that language should be used economically. This was in contrast to Romantic poetry, which was superfluous in the use of symbolism, metaphor, imagery, etc. Pound and the imagists were reflecting the style of Japenese and Chinese poets by exmphasizing clarity and precision in their poetry - in essence, eliminating all words that were not absolutely needed for the poem's expression. He was once quoted as saying:

Good writers are those who keep the language efficient. That is to say, keep it accurate, keep it clear.

Thus, it is easy to see that Pound would not be in favor of adjectives. Why describe a thing with adjectives, when simply mentioning the object is enough to call to the readers mind any image that is required? On this subject, here is a direct quote from Pound's "Don't for Imagists":

Use no superfluous word and no adjective which does not reveal something.

alexb2's profile pic

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Ezra Pound famously told Ernest Hemingway to "distrust adjectives". He felt that they could be a hindrance and that they could infect a writer, ruining his work with superflous, corrupting influences. Take a look at the link below for exerpts from Modernism and the Culture of Celebrity, which does a nice job discussing Pound's feelings on adjectives and their abuse.

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