If there is one essential critical insight that comprehends the diverse literatures we consider to be modernist it is Ezra Pound’s exhortation ‘Make It New’.1 Simple and memorable, Pound’s maxim is the clearest, most widely applicable and readily quotable formulation of modernist aesthetics. ‘Make It New’ is a call to modernise, to remake or break with the past, in order to respond to, and indeed sculpt, the experience of living in a palpably modern world. And it is telling, therefore, that the slogan was not Pound’s own invention: he translated it from the inscription on an ancient Chinese emperor’s bathtub.
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