Ezra Pound Weighs Chaucer and Shakespeare

Ezra Pound’s ABC of Reading, hardly short on strong opinions, contains a fantastic chapter on Chaucer, who Pound submits is superior in some ways to Shakespeare. A taste—

Sloth is the root of much bad opinion. It is at times difficult for the author to retain his speech within decorous bounds.

I once heard a man, how has some standing as writer and whom Mr. Yeats was wont to defend, assert that Chaucer’s language wasn’t English, and that one ought not to use it as basis of discussion, ETC. Such was the depth of London in 1910.

Anyone who is too lazy to master the comparatively small glossary necessary to understand Chaucer deserves to be shut out from the reading of good books for ever.

As to the relative merits of Chaucer and Shakespeare, English opinion has been bamboozled for centuries by a love of the stage, the glamour of the theatre, the love of bombastic rhetoric and of sentimentalizing over actors and actresses; these, plus the national laziness and unwillingness to make the least effort, have completely obscured values. People even read translations of Chaucer into a curious compost, which is not modern language but which uses a vocabulary comprehended of sapheads

Wat se the kennath

Chaucer had a deeper knowledge of life than Shakespeare.

Let the reader contradict that after reading both authors, if he chooses to do so.

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