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Richard Edwards <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 7 Sep 1999 18:35:07 GMT
text/plain (102 lines)
Jonathan Morse wrote (6 Sep): "So far as I'm aware, the interview with
Ginsberg is the only instance of anything like a repudiation of the
antisemitism." Are you able to add any instances as a result of your recent
research on this topic?
I agree with you that the interesting question is "not was he a treasonous
anti-semite, but how he was, why he was, and what does it mean for the
poetry?" Why do we give shelf-space to such a man and why do we continue to
value his judgment on *anything*, knowing what we do know about the Rome
broadcasts, the Kasper business, and the rest of that sickening garbage?
So bewildering are these questions that, somewhat against the drift of my
argument, I keep turning back to the facts of Pound's life to see what clues
can be gleaned there. So far as treason in what you call the "normative"
sense is concerned, I accept your view that he was guilty as charged on at
least some of the counts in the indictment although I believe there is some
doubt about whether the relevant allegations could have been proved, given
the constitutional requirement of two witnesses to each overt act. Humphrey
Carpenter's biography is good on this point. For treason in the a less
technical sense one has to look no further than the Italian Cantos in which
Pound betrayed himself if no-one else. I recommend Peter Robinson's essay
"Translation and Betrayal" in his book *In the Circumstances - About Poems
and Poets*, published in England by Oxford University Press.
As to anti-semitism, it is a mystery to me where he got it from. The
prejudices of his Philadelphia suburb, as documented in the local press at
the time (Carpenter again), seem to have been directed mostly against
Italians; obviously Pound didn't pick up much of that. I wonder whether, in
the course of your research, you formed an opinion as to whether or not the
meanness of Pound's hatreds was in any way associated with his mental
illness, if any. Again this raises a host of questions and subquestions: if
Pound was mentally ill when did it begin and what was the nature of the
complaint; if not why did the four doctors behave as they did and why did
Pound allow the insanity plea to be put to the court? And the larger
question: What does his illness mean for the poetry?
I am looking forward to reading the article referred to in Jonathan Morse's
post (4 Sept) the full reference for which is Bulletin of the Menninger
Clinic Volume 58, Issue 3 (1994): 307-22. Those without access to an
academic library can order a copy from the publisher's website,
Richard Edwards
>From: "Jonathan P. Gill" <[log in to unmask]>
>Reply-To: Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine
>  <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: Pound's antisemitism
>Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 19:37:10 -0400
>I hesitate to add my voice to the maelstrom, but since I just spent the
>better part of a decade on a dissertation that looks at Pound's
>anti-semitism from start to finish, with a whole chapter on the radio
>broadcasts, here are some comments based on reading and listening to
>these broadcasts longer and harder than anyone else alive.
>The hard facts, written and recorded, are that Ezra Pound was
>unquestionably guilty of treason as it was understood at the time by the
>normative voices of the legal community and he was unquestionably an
>anti-semite in the common use of the term.  Can't we all just read Tim
>Redman's book, offer thanks, and move on to a much more interesting
>question: not was he a treasonous anti-semite, but how he was, why he was,
>and what it means for the poetry?  I guess the problem is that some of us
>(me included) can't or don't want to judge Pound according to norms and
>Still, I think it worth mentioning that the difference between word and
>action was a lifelong problem for Pound--he conceived radio (which was, we
>should remember, as he remembered, invented by his sixteenth cousin!) as a
>solution to this problem.  Anyone who wants to judge Pound's broadcasts
>properly needs to put them in the context of early radio history (people
>thought it meant re-evaluating the way language works) and propaganda
>efforts on all sides in World War II (verbal nitroglycerine" --EP's
>phrase--was the rule).
>As for the broadcasts themselves, I posted a lengthy explanation of their
>availability to this list about two years ago--it should be in the
>archive.  Anyone really interested in this topic needs not only the actual
>recordings, but transcripts and manuscripts. Yale is a very interesting
>place to start, since they've got plenty of material from after September
>of 1943--indeed, there are typescripts of broadcasts that seem to date
>from early 1945!  Very troubling reading.
>By the way, my extended work on all of this is currently available only
>through Interlibrary Loan or University Microfilm--although the University
>of California Press has expressed interest...
>To conclude, I'm finding this medium an awful way to present my remarks.
>That's not an apology, but rather a search for a way to redeem the
>Jonathan Gill
>Columbia University
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