Imagism Essay - Critical Essays

Critical Overview

In the chapter “Critical Reaction,” Hughes makes the statement that “few comments on the [imagist] movement have appeared in English periodicals. The effect is that of a conspiracy of silent scorn.” Hughes wrote this in 1931, but his book remains today, one of the standard studies of the imagist movement, so his seventy-year-old opinion seems to be still standing. Hughes claims that the critics who did write about Imagism were usually either the imagist poets themselves or else their friends.

The only comments that were made were either brief sarcastic remarks or “mutual backscratching,” Hughes concludes. Of the sarcastic remarks, he mentions Harold Monro, who wrote an article in the Egoist, a largely imagist publication. Monro writes, “the imagists seem to have been struck partially blind at the first sight of their new world; and they are still blinking.”

Ford Maddox Ford (using his German last name, Hueffer, for this article) is quoted by Hughes as commending Doolittle and Flint for their writing, praising them as the only two poets in the movement who wrote well enough to be called imagists. Ford then continues: “Mr. John Gould Fletcher, Mr. Aldington, and Miss Lowell are all too preoccupied with themselves and their emotions to be really called Imagists.” Ford concludes by stating that the imagist movement is the only thing that was happening in literature during that time.

Hughes then goes on to discuss the critical response that the imagists received in America. He begins with a statement from a reviewer writing for the Chicago Tribune. The writer concluded the review by stating that Imagism should be established as a constitutional amendment and that anyone who writes anything other than in the imagist mode should be imprisoned. Later, after the pub- lication of...

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