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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Leon Surette <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 28 Jan 1998 21:10:20 -0500
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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
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I guess I should respond to Akiyoshi Miyake's query. What connectiion if any
do you, Akiyoshi, have with my friend, Akiko Myake?
        Let me first point out that the book in question is in Pound's
library at Brunnenberg and is well marked by a reader. In the hardback
edition of BIRTH I erroneously said that the marks were in Pound's hand.
They are, in fact, in another hand -- whose I do not know. The book belonged
to John Drummond, whom Pound set to "research" the Jewish question shortly
after he arrived in Rapallo in the late spring or summer of 1934, so it may
well be in his hand.
        In addition we know that Pound read the Protocols, for he comments
on them in letters and in the radio broadcasts. He possessed a copy from
1936, but showed no interest in them until 1940, when he begins to comment
on them in correspondence. Certainly he did not learn of the Protocols from
Webster, nor do I clain that he did. However, I have not found any clear
evidence to date his reading of Webster, for he does not refer directly to
her. Indeed, he may never have read the book himself, but merely relied on
verbal reports from Drummond.
        However, I have very good information about the provenance of his
anti-Semitic attitudes, and they are exhaustively documented in a book now
under consideration. Weabster was not the source of those sentiments.
        I might add that I am more than a little distressed at some of the
responses to Miyake's query. Questions about Pound's attitude toward Jews
are both legitimate and in principle answerable on the basis of evidence. It
is absurd to assert that no evidence is needed since we know in our hearts
that Pound was innocent (or guilty). Nor is it helpful to take a page from
Hilary Clinton's book and attack anyone who is interested in ascetaining as
near as may be the truth of the matter. Like the rest of us, Pound was a
fallible human being whose attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour cannot be known
a priori.
        Of course, Miyake operates from the same a priori presumptions in
his (her?) assertion that Pound would have rejected Webster's book as "a
mere ridiculous fantasy" if he had read it. I can assure you that he did
read several such ridiculous fantasies without rejecting them  -- even
though I cannot be sure that he read -- or even had a report on -- Nesta
        I should add that I have far more information on the subject now
than I had when I wrote Birth -- most of it nearly a decade ago now.
At 06:12 AM 28/01/98 +0900, you wrote:
>I have a question on Nesta Webster. Leon Surette, in his _The Birth of
>Modernism_, conjectures that Pound read her_ Secret Societies and
>Subversive Movements_(pulshd in 1924) around 1940(Surette, 23, 47).
>But I am afraid his reasoning for the dating is not so persuasive.
>He points out that she identifies in an appendix the source of the
>_Protocols_ but that she asserts the plausibility of the forgery book,
>which the poet read in 1940. That is to say, Surette's dating is based
>on the assumption that reading Webster led to the immediate reading the
>The assumption premises that Pound read Webster's book with interest.
>But her book finds(of course erroneously) in Pan-Germanic Movement one
>of the instruments "conspiratorial Jews" are maneuvering from behind the
>scenes. And around 1940 Social Nationalism was explicitly and fatally
>cruel to Jews and Jewish people, and Pound knew that. If the poet had
>read the book around that time, he would have believed that the book was
>a mere ridiculous fantasy. If he thought Webster was trustworthy,as
>he did, Pound had to read her earlier, when he was not interested in
>German policy against Jews.
>Is there someone who have evidence enough to fix the date of when the
>poet read Webster? I ask this question because the book is very important
>in its influence on the formation of Pound's anti-semitic thought.
>akiyoshi miyake
>home:[log in to unmask]
>office:[log in to unmask]
Leon Surette                                    Home: 519-681-7787
Dept. of English                                Fax:   519-661-3776
The University of Western Ontario               Email: [log in to unmask]
London, Ontario
N6A 3K7