William Carlos Williams was already developing and strengthening his American nativist position when Ezra Pound challenged him to close down his medical practice for a "sabbatical" in Europe. "I think you are afraid to take it," Pound wrote, "for fear of destroying some illusions which you think necessary to your illusions." Williams risked them and left for Paris. The itinerary of what Williams was to call his "magnificent year" forms the framework of A Voyage to Pagany. Its protagonist, young Dr. "Dev" Evans, from the "New Jersey town of P. where he was born," is a tourist in Pagany––the name Williams chose for all Europe––glorying in its ancient monuments, its scientific, avant-garde and expatriate worlds, in its music and art and above all its people. Stimulated and bruised, he returns to America determined to discover what is genuinely poetic at home. The story is fictional but the character is the same Williams who went on to write In the American Grain, to celebrate in poetry and prose the American conscience and revitalize its tradition. In the Introduction, Harry Levin, the critic who has taken all literature since the Renaissance as his province, pinpoints A Voyage to Pagany in the development of Williams and in the mainstream of modem literature. He shows how Williams's "spontaneous energy made him an especially responsive witness to the American-European encounter."
One of the greatest poets of the 20th Century, William Carlos Williams is “The cornerstone of New Directions”more »
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