Kenner does clear up one thing that long puzzled me: why English people of Pound's generation are given to referencing and quoting troubadour poetry as if Provençal were a required school subject along with Greek and Latin. Kenner explains:
Some things were current once that are current no longer. A public for an inexpensive bilingual Dante-- Italian text, notes, and a facing version in unpretentious prose-- was once discoverable in England in sufficient numbers to circulate thousands upon thousands of elegant pocket-sized volumes, price one shilling. ...It was not presumed that the reader knew Italian, but that, "possessing some acquaintance with Latin or one of the Romance languages", he would welcome a prose guide "to the very words of the master in the original."Swelp me: I could have sworn it *was* swank.
In 1902 the numerous students of Dante (where are they now?) could buy H.J. Chaytor's The Troubadours of Dante, which offered as much "as any one is likely to require who does not propose making a special study of Provençal." This meant working through 46 poems with a glossary, a grammar, and notes, unassisted by translation. People with Latin and French, who had been sipping at old Italian, seem not to have thought this formidable. Atop Pound's 1908 "Na Audiart" a note on the story of Bertrans' "borrowed lady" begins "Anyone who has read anything of the troubadours knows..." That was not swank: it was easy then to read something of the troubadours.
This does shed some light on Arthur Waley's light-hearted undertaking to teach himself Chinese and Japanese simultaneously. Clearly this was just something middle-class people did at the time.