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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
En Lin Wei <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 21 May 2000 03:37:45 PDT
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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
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Dear listserv members,

I have written an essay regarding the collapse of Pound's belief system as
in the Drafts and Fragments.  I was prompted to post it on the net partly in
to  Garrick Davis' article "Misunderstanding Pound."

While Garrick Davis may be right in arguing that we cannot make a final
judgment concerning
Pound by reference to his fascism, the issue is further complicated by the
obnoxiousness of
the totality of Pound's ideology.

I refer not only to Pound's "phallocentrism," his sexism, his elitism, his
penchant for hierarchies,
his pro-Hitlerian, pro-Mussolini, and anti-semitic tirades.  The matter is
far more serious.

My criticism of Pound rests on an analysis of the Chinese elements of his
work.  I think Mr. Davis,
in ignoring the East Asian dimension of Pound's thought, misses something
essential.  Pound was, arguably
worse than a fascist.  He embraced the most retrogressive and
anti-democratic elements of Confucian thought
at a time when the Chinese rightly decided that Confucianism could no longer
serve as the basis of
a modern society.  This was a greater tragedy for Pound than his commitment
to fascism. I would argue
that the problem stems not simply from Pound's enthusiasm for Confucius, but
from his dedication to
the most right-wing and reactionary school of Confucianism.

Most students of Pound miss this, and few critics have picked it up.  Mr.
Davis is correct when he says
that the Cantos contain less about fascism than we might expect from the
criticisms of the fiercest anti-
Poundians.  However, the Cantos do contain a great deal about Confucianism
and Chinese history--this is undeniable.

And the more one knows about the Chinese historical events which Pound
idealized, the more troubling
the picture becomes.  If Pound had only endorsed the politics of Hitler and
Mussolini, he would have
been better off; but he endorses several thousand years of some of the most
governments on the face of the earth---his dream was that Hitler and
Mussolini could emulate
the cruelest of the Chinese emperors.

Many of the gentlest and most delicate artistic impulses of Chinese culture
are the fruit of Buddhist and Taoist
efforts; and for Pound ALL Taoists and Buddhists are no better than
Jews---destined to be swept away.

Those who wish to explore the issue more fully, who wish to better
understand just what kind of Confucianist Pound was, can visit the article


Pound may or may not be a great poet.  However, the analysis of the moral,
cultural, and political significance
of his work cannot be gauged without a careful look at the Chinese dimension
of his work, and its relation
to his fascism and his fiercely anti-democratic and racist tendencies.
These tendencies are reflected NOT
merely in the direct references to Mussolini and Hitler contained in the
Cantos, but they permeate his use
(and abuse) of Chinese history.


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>Subject: Ezra Pound and Fascism
>Dear Listserv Members,
>I have written an essay concerning recent trends in the academic criticism
>Ezra Pound (specifically the obsession with his anti-semitism, fascism, and
>alleged insanity), which also reviews a number of critical books on the
>subject, including The Roots of Treason by E. Fuller Torrey, The Genealogy
>Demons by Robert Casillo, The American Ezra Pound by Wendy Stallard Flory,
>and The Forméd Trace by Massimo Bacigalupo.
>For those interested in reading the essay, "Misunderstanding Ezra Pound,"
>link is www.cprw.com.
>Thank you,
>Garrick Davis
>CPR (www.cprw.com)

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