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- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine


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"W. Freind" <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 22 May 1998 07:44:25 -0700
TEXT/PLAIN (71 lines)
Dan Pearlman's basic point seems right -- we should be careful about
using extra-textual comments any author makes about that text, whether
it's a revision of economic views or, for that matter, the claim that the
_Cantos_ were structured like a fugue. But it seems to me that _Drafts and
Fragments_ represents a substantial critique and, possibly, an outright
rejection of much of the project of the _Cantos_. If I remember right,
there is one reference to economics ("I am all for Verkehr without
Tyranny") and one to Confucius ("I, one thing, as relation to one thing;/
Hui sees relation to ten.") In any event, Pound told Donald Hall that he
had grown disenchanted with Confucius' thought, and even wondered if he
should have used Agassiz instead. In other words, I'm suggesting that
_D&F_ is itself a recantation.
_D&F_ is the most nakedly autobiographical section of the _Cantos_ and
Pound is not pleased with what he sees. "That I lost my center/ fighting
the world," "Let the Gods forgive what I /have made," "litterae nihil
sanantes," "And of man seeking good, /doing evil," etc., etc.: all of
these suggest a profound reevaluation of his life's work and the _Cantos_
That's even more prominent in the drafts of _D&F_ (interesting phrase),
where, for instance, he writes "I have been a pitiless stone -- / stone
making art work / and destroting affections." Even the line which many
have seen as endorsing a final paradisal vision is significantly different
in a draft. In the lines "A little light, like a rushlight/ to lead back
to splendour," Pound instead has "A little *love*..."
I'm not suggesting that we take Pound at his word and agree with his
dismal evaluation. But I am suggesting that _D&F_ is much more
self-critical than many people have acknowledged, and that that sets up an
interesting and difficult tension with the rest of the text.
On Fri, 22 May 1998, Daniel Pearlman wrote:
> Whether or not, at the end of his life, Pound "recanted"
> about anything (about Usury, or about his "insufficient
> attention to the Hebraic element in history," as he told
> me personally), should not--IMHO--affect our reading of
> the Cantos, which he had ceased adding anything to by 1960,
> about the time he became preoccupied with health problems
> and became very depressed and self-deprecatory.  Chaucer
> "recanted" his whole frivolous literary career before his
> own death--no doubt to secure entry into heaven--but the
> Miller's Tale is still as funny as ever.
> ==Dan Pearlman
> At 07:35 PM 5/21/98 -0700, you wrote:
> >In John Tytell's "Ezra Pound - The Solitary Volcano" he stated on page 338:
> >
> >"Two weeks before his eighty-seventh birthday he read at a small cafe for
> >an intimate gathering of friends. The material included a sort of
> >postscript to The Cantos:
> >
> >'re USURY
> >I was out of focus, taking a symptom for a
> >cause.
> >The cause is AVARICE .' "
> >
> >Tytell goes on with "It all seemed like an apologia, ..."
> >
> >Does anyone disagree that Pound recanted on his lifelong stand on usury?
> >
> Dan Pearlman                    Office: Department of English
> 102 Blackstone Blvd. #5                 University of Rhode Island
> Providence, RI 02906                    Kingston, RI 02881
> Tel.: 401 453-3027                      Tel.: 401 874-4659
> email: [log in to unmask]            Fax:  401 874-2580