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Jonathan Morse <[log in to unmask]>
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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 1 Nov 1999 00:34:37 -1000
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In "Ezra Pound: 'Insanity,' 'Treason,' and Care," _Critical Inquiry_ 14
(1987): 134-41, William M. Chace writes:
"[A] blend of compassion and outright annoyance characterizes the attitudes
of a great many of Pound's acquaintances over the years. As early as the
1920s in Rapallo, his visitors and correspondents, among them Ernest
Hemingway, W. B. Yeats, and James Joyce, tended to note the same thing: the
poet was embarrassingly self-congratulatory, impervious to advice or
criticism of even the mildest kind, and high-handed in every regard.
Hemingway wrote that the poet 'makes a bloody fool of himself 99 times out
of 100 when he writes anything but poetry.' Archibald MacLeish, later to
rally to Pound's assistance, reported early on that he was 'a bit fed up
with the Ezraic assumption that he is a Great Man.' Joyce saw him as a
fellow writer who turned up 'brilliant discoveries' but also 'howling
blunders.' Over the years, Pound put all his friends to the test, the test
of complying with his wishes, agreeing with his findings about all matters
under the sun, and surrendering their will to his. It was a strong will,
but in the end it overwhelmed none of his friends. Those closest to him,
particularly Williams, who had known him longer than anyone else, did not
give in but watched with dismay: 'This ain't the old Ez I used to know,'
Williams wrote in one of the most charged of his letters. 'You're in the
wrong bin. Your arse is congealed. Your cock fell in the jello. Wake up!'"
Chace draws all his examples from Torrey's _The Roots of Treason_.
Williams' letter is dated April 7, 1938.
And this is the same issue of _Critical Inquiry_ that contains Conrad L.
Rushing's "'Mere Words': The Trial of Ezra Pound" and Richard Sieburth's
"In Pound We Trust: The Economy of Poetry / The Poetry of Economics." How
much we lost when the PC Police mounted their coup against that journal!
Jonathan Morse