The London Making of a Modernist: John Cournos in Babel

  • Marilyn Schwinn Smith


Critic, journalist, translator, editor, novelist, poet, playwright — John Cournos (1881–1966) fulfilled all these writerly posts with distinction, if not financial success, during his nearly twenty years as an American writer in England (1912–1931). The quantity and quality of his publications testify to an ambition and aspiration no less energetic than that of his better known, compatriot friends and colleagues in England: T. S. Eliot and fellow Philadelphians H. D. and Ezra Pound. He is remembered today, most frequently, as a translator from the Russian.1 Such was not always the case. Cournos was well recognized during the 1920s. The nine novels published between 1919 and 1932 were widely reviewed in the British and American press and quickly drew the attention of scholars and bibliographers.2 His first novel was awarded the prestigious Hawthornden Prize; the prize was withdrawn when the committee realized that Cournos was an American, not a British citizen.3 High appreciation for his work appears in the published correspondence of such diverse writers as the American poet Marianne Moore and the British novelist Winifred Holtby.4 The British journalist Gerald Cumberland comments, in his 1924 memoir, that Cournos has risen from “both poor and obscure” when they first met in 1913 to a name that “will be on the lips of all who care for literature that is strange and adventurous.”


Mass Culture American Writer Woman Suffrage American Press York Time Book Review 
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© Ferdâ Asya 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marilyn Schwinn Smith

There are no affiliations available

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