Is it really true, as Dan Pearlman remarked recently in this list, that
Pound "would have liked nothing better than to have become a REAL professor
rather than just working out of his own Ezuversity"? He had the chance in
1938, when Ford persuaded Olivet to create a post for him, but he turned it
down. No doubt there was a variety of reasons for this: he feared Olivet
would not let him give his students the "lowdown" on his pet topics; perhaps
also the job was not sufficiently grand for him. But whatever the specific
reasons for turning down Olivet, my impression (without having read Ruthven)
is that the idea of returning to academia *sometimes* appealed to Pound, but
generally he thought himself better off on the outside.
The fact that Pound and his father from time to time pursued Penn for the
doctorate they believed to be due to him does not mean that he intended to
use it to obtain an academic appointment. Nor, with respect to Dan Pearlman,
does the remark of Olga Rudge's which he quotes (pointing out the irony that
"a student of EP could get money to visit the Master, but the Master could
get no grant money for anything") necessarily indicate that Pound was eaten
up with envy of the sinecured. I suspect Pound most of the time knew quite
well that he would not survive more than a few weeks as an employee, however
illustrious, of an academic institution.
Does Ruthven (or can anyone on the list) unearth anything which is
inconsistent with this admittedly somewhat sparsely documented impression?
Perhaps I should add that my curiosity about this point is chiefly
historical and I do not seek to suggest that Pound in some way kept himself
pure by resisting the temptation to become a professional teacher. Without
the literature departments at the Universities much of this century's most
valuable literary would either not have been written or would have remained
uncelebrated. So I am not siding with the outsiders against the eggheads,
albeit I am an outsider myself. It is just that a teaching job would not
have suited Pound (for reasons not all of which are to his credit), and I
think he knew it. But I will be more than happy to be corrected.
Jonathan Morse wrote (20 Aug):
>Most of you know this, but:
>Useful documentation of Pound's ambivalent attitude toward the academy can
>be found on pp. 13-16 of K. K. Ruthven's _Ezra Pound as Literary
>Critic_(Routledge, 1990). It's a sad story -- not tragic, just mildly sad
>-- of a man who kept being rejected by the academy, not wholly without
>reason, and kept trying to break in anyway. Most poignant of all was when
>Pound had the Rome Radio announcer call him "Dr. Pound" on the strength of
>his honorary degree from Hamilton.
>Department of English, University of Hawaii
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