This casebook provides a selection of key criticism, including an article newly translated into English, on the Cantos of Ezra Pound. The introduction positions the poem within Pound's corpus, contextualizes the contributions included and outlines their arguments, and concludes with suggestions for how the student may best approach this troubled and fascinating artifact. The selected articles maintain a high level of immediate contact with the Cantos, with the intention of preparing students for reading individual cantos on their own. Contributors discuss the nature of many of the successive major blocks of work, allowing the Pound newcomer to experience the poem as an irregular progression, varying greatly in its qualities. The first selection discusses "Canto I"; subsequent selections discuss, successively, major elements from "Canto II", the Draft of XXX, the China Cantos, the Pisan Cantos, and Drafts and Fragments. As a whole, the collection elucidates the personal and historical shifts that profoundly impacted Pound and consequentially produced the changing fusions of technique and matter in the Cantos.
It also shows some of the huge variation in critics conceptions of the poem, or poetry itself, and of what it meant to be a poet and citizen of the West during the half-century in which the Cantos were written.