Ezra Pound’s classic book about the meaning of literature, with a new introduction by Michael Dirda.This important work, first published in 1934, is a concise statement of Pound’s aesthetic theory. It is a primer for the reader who wants to maintain an active, critical mind and become increasingly sensitive to the beauty and inspiration of the world’s best literature. With characteristic vigor and iconoclasm, Pound illustrates his precepts with exhibits meticulously chosen from the classics, and the concluding “Treatise on Meter” provides an illuminating essay for anyone aspiring to read and write poetry. ABC of Reading displays Pound’s great ability to open new avenues in literature for our time.
"Incredibly alive and intelligent and first-rate."
― The New York Times
"Full of original and suggestive ideas on the meaning and operation of the poetic art. The comments ring with Pound’s early wit and vigor."
― The New Yorker
New Directions has been the primary publisher of Ezra Pound in the U.S. since the founding of the press when James Laughlin published New Directions in Prose and Poetry 1936. That year Pound was fifty-one. In Laughlin’s first letter to Pound, he wrote: “Expect, please, no fireworks. I am bourgeois-born (Pittsburgh); have never missed a meal. . . . But full of ‘noble caring’ for something as inconceivable as the future of decent letters in the US.” Little did Pound know that into the twenty-first century the fireworks would keep exploding as readers continue to find his books relevant and meaningful.
Michael Dirda, who won a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism at the Washington Post Book World, is the author of An Open Book, Bound to Please, and Readings: Essays and Literary Entertainments. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.