The Best Sentences in Hugh Kenner's The Pound Era

Jul 4
“Time folded over; now lay flat, transparent, upon not-now.” Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era, pg. 30

“In transparent overlay, two times have become as one, and we are meant to be equally aware of both dictions (and yet they seem the same diction). The words lie flat like the forms on a Cubist surface. The archaizing sensibility of James’s time and Beardsley’s has simply dissolved.” Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era, pg. 29

“When Yeats edited the Oxford Book of Modern Verse he printed Pater’s paragraph as his first selection, as though to concede that writing came to this, in a world defined by impenetrable objects, an elaborate verbal structure generated where alone no objects can intrude: within the mind.” Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era, pg. 28

“Whole histories were compressed as we compress junked cars: plays, for example, into dramatic monologues where Browning’s reader becomes Sherlock Holmes to reconstruct a scenario of murdered naivete from 28 couplets imagined to be spoken in front of a woman’s picture, painted in one day, ‘looking as if she were alive.’ That picture epitomizes the inscrutable brevity to which Browning has brought two hours’ stage time, and the spoken poem, which he would surely have made still shorter had he been able, is the exegesis of the picture.” Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era, pg. 28

Jul 3
“Inspired by their analogy, James made not stories but ‘things,’ and did not write them but ‘did’ them. They took ‘doing.’ And put in ‘touches,’ just the right touches. (You cannot touch words.) He was helped by conceiving that he did not tell but make: making objects, substantial as statues and heavy framed pictures are substantial.” Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era, pg. 27

“(1802: Poe would be born in seven years.) Keats in a similar way interrogates an urn, and answers for it, and its last utterance, about Beauty and Truth, may seem almost intolerably enigmatic.” Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era, pg. 26

Jul 2
“When objects have invaded the universe the sage grows mute, as did Newton, who does not enlighten us with sayings but with silent symbols.” Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era, pgs. 25-26

“A picture is an object in space, enigmatic but somehow (somehow) eloquent.” Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era, pg. 25

“Or you could give your artifact what James called the Tone of Time. Because they thought that the old masters, rather than generations of curators, had applied that varnish now brown to near-opacity, Academicians varnished their pictures to make them look like ‘old masters.’ One put ‘Hist!’ and ‘eftsoons’ into one’s poems. As for one’s stories, one was apt to be sardonic about modernity.” Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era, pg. 25

“Art is the opportunity for time travel.” Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era, pg. 25

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