Early in his career, Ezra Pound undertook the translation of a number of Tang Dynasty era Chinese poems. As Pound did not know Chinese, he based his translations on the notes of Ernest Fenollosa, an American professor at Tokyo University and a promoter of Chinese and Japanese art and literature. Originally published in 1915, Cathay is one of Pound’s earliest collections of translated poetry. Criticized by some for the inaccuracies of the translation, this work has nevertheless been praised as an impressive modern interpretation of the original poetry. Pound’s interest in the poetry of other cultures would lead him to complete many more translations which remain a significant component of his many contributions to 20th century literature.

This edition of Cathay, published by the Limited Editions Club, contains Pound’s translations of eighteen poems most of which were written by Li Po, an 8th century poet known for his conversational poems about everyday life. Also included are seven hors texte color woodblock prints created by renowned painter Francesco Clemente. Like Pound before him, Clemente’s travels and his knowledge of the arts of other cultures have been a foundation and an inspiration for his own work, and his sensitive prints resonate harmoniously with this poetry.

This hardbound book features handmade Japanese Ogawashi paper and is covered in blue Japanese linen with a matching slipcase. The front cover features a debossed design reproducing a spiral motif from one of Clemente’s woodblock prints. The pages of the book are printed on only one side and folded over at the fore edge in the Eastern style of bookmaking.

 

This copy is number 67 out of 300 and is signed by the artist in pencil at the colophon.

 

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