Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/The Cantos/archive1

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The Cantos[edit]

Mainly self-nomination. This was started by User:Charles Matthews and a number of editors have made improvements via Peer review, but I added most of the content. I know that it is very long (80K), but it is probably the best single-article overview of this important piece of modernist literature on the Internet, and believe me, it could be a lot longer. Filiocht 11:15, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)

  • Support: and it could well be the best single article on Wikipedia, too, it's magnificent. I can't believe anybody who has read it will have the nerve to suggest hacking it up, either. Bishonen | Talk 11:27, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Support: Lucid, erudite and fascinating. --Theo (Talk) 11:47, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Abstain - that's a massive article and I couldn't do it justice by voting for it until I got a good solid day to read it :-) Ta bu shi da yu 13:25, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Support: This is an amazing study and will surely become, in its own right, one of the most studied and important reference works on The Cantos. That is should be freely available to everyone via the internet, courtesy of Wikipedia, is an amazing windfall to the Wikipedia project. It is beyond comprehension that anyone will feel its too long, and I don't think it will be an objection Filiocht has to worry about. Giano 13:47, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • 80KB? That's huge. Maybe 50KB? Yes, I have the audacity to suggest a bit of splitting. Remember that not everyone wants to read anywhere near that much, or have to wade through it. It's better to have one article up front that's reasonably concise, and save the real detailed stuff for subarticles. By creating subarticles, you also free up space for even more detail. Don't count that as an objection, but I'm not supporting, either. Everyking 13:51, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Object (mildly): I think the body of the article (the discussion of the Cantos' sections) is great: comprehensive and interesting. My issues lie with the sections at the beginning ("Intro", "Controversy" and "Structure") and at the end ("Legacy"). I think some minor copyedit is in order here:
    • The article doesn't seem to make up its mind whether to treat "The Cantos" as a singular or a plural. Thus:
  • Intro section: "The Cantos by Ezra Pound is a long, incomplete poem..." (singular), "...the early Cantos, as finally published, date from 1922 onwards." (plural).
First instance is as it should be, second instance is also correct, as it applise to some Cantos, not The Cantos. Filiocht 15:03, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)
Ok thanks, that works. Well then make that clear in the lead section. Right now it does not explain why the thing is a poem (singular) and also a collection of things. I made the same point when this was listed on peer review. You know what is correct because you are familiar with the subject. The article does not appear to. - Taxman 21:20, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)
  • Controversy section: "The Cantos has always been..." (singular).
Correct as is. Filiocht 15:03, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)
  • Structure section: "As they lack any plot or definite ending, the Cantos can appear..." (plural, also "the" instead of "The"); the rest of this section treats it as a plural as well.
These I will fix. Filiocht 15:03, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)
  • Legacy section: "...The Cantos have been influential..." (plural), as in the rest of the section.
This I will also fix. Filiocht 15:03, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)
  • The "Structure" section contains some dense or clunky prose, which is sometimes hard to decypher. Some examples are:
  • "...the Cantos can appear to be chaotically structureless": seems like a redundancy to me.
Beg to differ on this one. I feel they reinforce each other. Filiocht 15:03, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)
  • "One contributory factor may be that Pound had in his sights the novel as handled by James Joyce.": I've read this sentence many times, and still I have no idea what the connection is between Pound and Joyce. What is meant with "in his sights"? What novel?
The novel as a form, as The Cantos represents the poem as a form. Filiocht 15:03, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)
Would "the modernist novel as handled by James Joyce"" be clearer? --
Please review my edit to this sentence along the lines of Pound wanted to do for poetry what Joyce had done for the novel. FiliochtTheo (Talk) 15:42, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • "The issue of incoherence of the work is reflected the equivocal note sounded in the final two more-or-less completed cantos which admit that he has been unable to make his materials cohere while insisting that the world does cohere.": this sentence is a train wreck.
Sorry, a word has gone missing and I will fix. Filiocht 15:03, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)
  • The list in this section has items that are marked: A A, C B, B C. What do these letters mean?
They occur in a direct quote. Filiocht 15:03, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)
  • "In the light of cantos written later than this letter, it would be possible to add to this list other recurring motifs such as periploi ('voyages around'), vegetation rituals such as the Eleusinian Mysteries, banking and credit, and the drive towards clarity in art, such as the 'clear song' of the troubadours and others and the 'clear line' of Renaissance painting.": where are the full stops when you need them?
One doesn't, it's a list. Filiocht 15:03, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)
  • "... the effort is to merge these two aspects of light.": The preceding sentences are so confusing that I have no idea what "these two" should be: the Sun and the Moon? Political and social activity? Divinity and artistic impulse? Love and good governance? Any other combination?
All of the above. I'll try to clarify. Filiocht 15:03, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)
  • Etcetera. There are some more heavy-handed sentences in this section. Try to make them more accessible by either splitting them up, or by using less flowery language.
  • Finally, I think that it's a bit strange to have a section called "Controversy" as the first section of the article proper. One would expect that an article would first set out to describe its subject (what is it, when was it made, by whom, how, etcetera.), and only then expand into the reception of the work and the controversy that ensued. As it stands, the intro section is trying to fulfill a double role of introducing the article to the reader and providing the details I mentioned. I think a better structure would be:
Beg to differ on this one. Especially important to place the various anti-semitism references in the body of the article in context. Filiocht 15:03, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)
  • Intro (summarizing the article as a whole, including the information that is contained in the "Legacy" section)
  • "Origins" (or something like that: contains most of the text that is now in the intro section, maybe expanded a bit)
  • Controversy (as is)
Good luck, and thanks for the excellent work so far! --Plek 14:49, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • I have tried to address a number of these suggestions now. Filiocht 15:11, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)
  • I have struck out the issues that have been fixed so far. I'd like to clarify the others: First of all, and as Taxman indicated as well, it is not made clear that "The Cantos" (singular) is the name of the poem and "the Cantos" (plural) are the cantos (lyrical poems) that it's made up of (try explaining that sentence to the first person you meet). That the article uses all three incarnations of "cantos" without explaining which is which, is highly confusing. As it stands, I'm sure that an unsuspecting editor will come along and change "date from 1922 onwards" to "dates", for instance.
Would it help to use 'Cantos' to refer to the whole work and 'canto' or 'cantos' to refer to the individual cantos or groups thereof? I have tried this in sentence 2; somebody careful should pick through the whole article if the approach is helpful. --Theo (Talk) 23:37, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Yes, something like that would help, I think. Ideally, The Cantos (in italics, both words capitalised, per WP:MOS) would refer to the work, and the cantos or canto (no capitals) to its individual parts. A dictionary definition of "canto[s]" in the introduction might be helpful as well (again, think about the proverbial average reader). --Plek 23:56, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • " One contributory factor may be that Pound wanted to do for poetry what James Joyce had done for the novel.": This is much clearer gramatically. Conceptually, however, it immediately raises the question: "Which is?" I'll leave it up to you to consider whether the general reader of this article would be knowledgeable enough to answer that question without further elaboration.
It seems to me that only the first three sections (Introduction, Controversy and Structure) need to engage our 'intelligent ten-year-old' reader. After that the material is too complex to be addressed succinctly in simple language. --Theo (Talk) 23:37, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
My point exactly. As the "Joyce" reference is made in the "Structure" section, some explanation about what it was that Joyce did for the novel might be in order. --Plek 23:56, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • The other sentences from the "Structure" section are unchanged and still a problem. Some copyedit and punctuation fixes are needed. I would do it myself if I'd have an idea what the intended meaning was; honestly, I don't.
  • That the "AA,BC,CB"-list is a direct quote is not apparent from the article. As it stands, it just looks like a list with auto-numbering gone kaput. Can't you just drop the letters?
The letter sequences have meaning. Perhaps a sentence saying 'The letter sequences ABC and ACB indicate variations on the sequencing of these elements'. --Theo (Talk) 23:37, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • I have retracted my objection about the section structure, as I don't think it's critical. Please note that I didn't intend the "Controversy" section to go to the end of the article, but rather that an extra section is needed to start the article proper. Thanks. --Plek 22:21, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • I have worked my way through the article to standardise along the following lines; the full work is The Cantos (note caps and italics), an individual numbered canto is Canto X (Cap, no italics) and a general reference is canto/cantos (no caps). Both canto and James joyce link to their own articles and I am reluctant to add such secondary materials to the body of the article. Hope this helps. Filiocht 08:45, Mar 1, 2005 (UTC)
  • Nice work. I have done some copyediting of the first three sections as well; I hope I didn't make a mess of it. Changing vote to support. --Plek 16:54, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  • Support. This sure represents the best of Wikipedia. Length shouldn't be a problem: whoever is scared away by so much text won't be interested in the Cantos itself or will be satisfied with the lead section. mark 15:30, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Support This is a spectacular article, well above usual featured article quality. We don't appreciate often enough the people who actually take the trouble here to write a big article on a subject that takes some research (as opposed to the hundred others who readily volunteer to criticize the single point they think they know about the topic). Thanks for the effort! alteripse 17:41, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Support This article is simply brilliant. Like I said when I supported Hrafnkels saga (today's featured article), this raises the bar for all featured articles; if it doesn't pass, we might as well remove 95% of the current featured articles. We should have one like that about all major literature works. To hell with size limits! Congratulations to the editors. Phils 21:30, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Strong support. I do not consider its length a hindrance and understand that shortening sections and expanding to their own articles would be unnecessary work for the time being. Excellent. --Oldak Quill 01:12, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  • Support: Good Lord, folks, the Cantos themselves are as complex, as misunderstood, as massive, as monumental, and as labyrinthine as Finnegans Wake, so a long article is only to be expected. 70 kb on a toy is too much. 70 kb on Remembrance of Times Past is necessary. When I saw Filiocht attempting the Herculean task of writing on the Cantos, I thought he or she was nuts. The resulting article, though, is superior to anything our commercial competitors can offer and is certainly FA quality. Geogre 02:38, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  • Support. Though again, I know nothing about the subject so I can't vouch for that. Great work, give us more like it. - Taxman 13:56, Mar 1, 2005 (UTC)
  • Support. Wow. Mark1 09:09, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  • Support My admiration to the editors - congratulations. Rossrs 12:21, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  • Support Good lord! I'm so proud! jengod 07:46, Mar 3, 2005 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Mostly a very good article on an enormous and fascinating topic. But the "Controversy" and "Structure" sections are completely unsourced, and they positively leap to interpretive conclusions which are very shakily justified, if at all, within the article, and which are opposed by significant amounts of scholarship. Wikipedia shouldn't make claims in its own voice about issues as complex as the connection or lack of it between Pound's anti-Semitism and usura, the overall symmetry/dissymmetry and structure/lack of structure of the poem -- such broad interpretive claims need to come from definite scholarly sources. (As one example, the article currently asserts: "No clear line can be drawn in it between the economic thesis on usura and Pound's anti-Semitism..." On this issue, see Parker, "Ezra Pound and the 'Economy' of Anti-Semitism," Boundary 2 11, no. 1-2 (fall-winter 1982-1983): 103-128, a study which argues the exact opposite.) Support.-- Rbellin|Talk 00:04, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I would argue that you have misread the sentence on usury, etc. What it actually says is that there is no clear line to be drawn between Pound's politics and his lyric voice. It is clearly not talking about the relationship between his economics and his anti-Semitism. Please read again and see if you still feel the same about it. Parker's essay is interesting, but what I was trying to avoid was any POV regarding Pound's politics. The article simply reports them in as much as they impact on the poem. The structure section is 'referenced' by quoting from Pound's own prose. Again, I would feel that any in-depth discussion of the various critical approaches and opinions here would go beyond the remit of an encyclopaedia article. I felt it was enough to note the fact that many readers will find the poem chaotic, but... Filiocht 08:48, Mar 4, 2005 (UTC)
Now this could get interesting. /me brings some drinks and snacks, pulls up the comfy chair, and settles down to watch the show. --Plek 01:05, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Just to be clear: I like the body of the article enormously, and agree with most of the grand claims about it above... this is honestly better than the Terrell Companion to the Cantos, which is the current standard work, as a readable overview of the whole of the thing (though of course the book, being a book, provides a lot more precise detail and referencing, and admitting that is no slight to this article). My concern is a narrow one seen against the bulk of this article's achievements. -- Rbellin|Talk 06:01, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Think the original phrase here about 'no clear line' is mine. I'm no expert; this was a way to get past Pound-the-man to the work. I'm sure that the literature on Pound contains many voices, We are not going to settle anything here. If there is a serious case that this transgresses NPOV, it will need fixing up. I have no problem with boilerplate 'most commentators think ... for a dissenting view ... '. As long as we don't have all the Pound controversies, which for better or worse belong on the page for him. Charles Matthews 14:34, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)
In my opinion "there is no clear line to be drawn between Pound's politics and his lyric voice" (if that is what the sentence is saying; its grammar remains unclear to me) is an interpretive claim tendentious enough to require a source, as some critics (like my citation above) clearly disagree. So, for that matter, is the separateness of the poem from Pound's life. In my opinion, for the Wikipedia article to make claims like this, or like "central to the poem's structure is the opposition between darkness and light," or like "Pound has been unable to make his materials cohere while insisting that the world does cohere," et cetera, amounts to original literary criticism of a rather hasty and unargued variety. The following improvements could be made:
  1. Simple removal of such broad interpretive claims. (The rest of the article meets FA requirements anyway)
  2. Weasel-word patches to these statements: "Some readers claim..." "Other critics believe..." (Not good enough for a featured article)
  3. Citations to individual well-respected critics: "Hugh Kenner writes..." (Good enough for FA status)
  4. A critical history: "Commentators of the 1960s often claimed... but a later work argued..." (Ideal)
I will try to make some of these changes myself, but cannot promise enough time for real research right now. -- Rbellin|Talk 15:21, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)
You could of course read 'no clear line' as a brief if inadequate summary of what the analysis below of the actual content of 107-odd cantos says, in an extended form. That is more in line with Wikipedia 'news style' policy: an 80K article ought to have some précis near the top. Damning it all as 'broad interpretive claims' is too sweeping, I'd say. More like a road sign saying 'dangerous bends ahead'. I won't argue with 'hasty', but I think you mean more 'too compressed'. 'No original research' has been given a rather bloated meaning, over time. "Darkness and light" - that should probably go, I agree. The coherence thing - that probably paraphrases Cookson or some other source, which could be cited. Charles Matthews 16:10, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Not that it matters much now -- the article has already reached featured status despite my unresolved objection -- but I am striking my objection. Recent edits by Filiocht have dramatically improved the sections dealing with the poem's critical history, and added many critical sources. -- Rbellin|Talk 15:31, 11 Mar 2005 (UTC)