The discussion falls into two sections. The first section details Pound’s interest in particular occult movements. It describes the tradition of Hellenistic occultism from Eleusis to the present, and establishes that Pound’s contact with the occult began at least as early as his undergraduate years and that he came to London already primed on the occult. Many of his London acquaintances were unquestionably occultists.
The second section outlines a tripartite schema for The Cantos (katabasis/dromena/epopteia) which, in turn, is applied to the poem. It is argued here that The Cantos is structured on the model of a initiation rather than a journey, and that the poem does not so much describe an initiation rite as enact one for the reader.
In exploring and attempting to understand Pounds’ occultism and its implications to his [Pounds’] oeuvre, Tryphonopoulos sheds new light upon one of the great works of modern Western literature.
A modern understanding of the physical world is applied to questions of prayer and providence, such as: Do miracles happen? Can prayer change anything? Why does evil exist? Why does God allow suffering? Why does God need us to ask him?
God's involvement in time is considered, from both a temporal and an eternal perspective. The roles of incarnation and sacrament are discussed in terms of whether or not they have a credible place in today's worldview. And the Final Anthropic Principle (FAP) is presented, with its attempt at a physical eschatology, showing it to be an inadequate basis for hope. Real hope can reside only with God, Polkinghorne concludes.
South of Tradition focuses not only on well-known writers such as Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Richard Wright, but also on up-and-coming writers such as Randall Kenan and less-known writers such as Brent Wade and Henry Dumas. Harris-Lopez addresses themes of sexual and racial identity, reconceptualizations of and transcendence of Christianity, analyses of African American folk and cultural traditions, and issues of racial justice. Many of her subjects argue that geography shapes identity, whether that geography is the European territory many blacks escaped to from the oppressive South, or the South itself, where generations of African Americans have had to come to grips with their relationship to the land and its history. For Harris-Lopez, "south of tradition" refers both to geography and to readings of texts that are not in keeping with expected responses to the works. She explains her point of departure for the essays as "a slant, an angle, or a jolt below the line of what would be considered the norm for usual responses to African American literature."
The scope of Harris-Lopez's work is tremendous. From her coverage of noncanonical writers to her analysis of humor in the best-selling The Color Purple, she provides essential material that should inform all future readings of African American literature.