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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
"Booth, Christopher" <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 10 Aug 1998 12:51:47 -0400
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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
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I would like to throw one thought out re: Torrey's _The Roots of
There are still people around who knew Pound. We are losing them, of
course, such as Jas Laughlin and La Martinelli this year, but there are
still a lot. I suspect that the number of people on this list who knew
EP is very small (Dr. Pearlman, at least, not many others), and I
suspect that the number of people who know people who knew EP is also
very small. Too small. They are the most valuable resource for "those
who [wish to] know."
Most of the people still active who knew Pound were those from the St.
Elizabeth's branch of the Ezraversity. Their response to Torrey's book
is the most informed. Torrey arrived there after EP was no longer there.
He never met EP, if I remember correctly. And I seem to recall that
there are accounts from people on the staff at St. Elizabeth's in
Pound's day that are not entirely in agreement with Torrey. And Torrey
sets himself at odds with Overholster [sp?--sorry, no resources at
work], the director of St. Elizbeth's at the time of EP's trial and
tenure there. A lot of second-guessing in the book, for better or worse.
I have been lucky enough to have known and met many people who knew
Pound over the years, and their response to Torrey's book that I recall
noting was almost violent antipathy. The people I knew who most
enthusiastically embraced Torrey's book were people that had not read
EP, let alone studied his poetry, let alone had first- or second-hand
knowledge of him. In our era of canned info that is delivered in
black-and-white bites in splashy colors and surround sound, as complex a
chimera as EP is not well treated by the press/media, or by its/their
As to well-researched, I can't say, but I do recall that when I read the
book, when it came out years ago--my memory is not fresh--I felt that he
misread (misinterpreted) much of Pound's work that he quoted.
[Psychologists are notoriously bad interpreters of art and literature.
They have their personal agendas, and they usually are not versed in a
style, idiom, movement, etc. etc. to correctly
read/interpret/view/prehend it.] I would think that when writing a book
about a writer the first requirement is knowing what his or her words
mean. I thought that he failed at that, and the book therefor lacked an
important leg upon which it had to stand.
Chris Booth
> ----------
> From:         Robert Kibler
> Reply To:     Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine
> Sent:         Sunday, August 9, 1998 12:42 PM
> To:   [log in to unmask]
> Subject:      E. Fuller Torrey quoted in Newsweek
> FYI: In Wray Herbert's article in the August 10 edition of Newsweek,
> entitled "Fearsome Madness: Schizophrenia remains frustratingly hard
> to conrtol," Herbert quotes E. Fuller Torrey, a contemporary critic of
> the "mental health care establishment" and "former government
> psychiatrist," as saying that the transformation of the mental health
> programs in America from treatment within institutions to treatment
> performed through outreach programs and community clinics was a
> "naive" one.  Apparently, Torrey has been working with the Treatment
> Advocacy Center to create laws stipulating that patient release from
> hospitals be contingent on patients keeping their appointments and
> taking their medications.
>     Anyway, this must be the E. Fuller Torrey who wrote "The Roots of
> Treason," about Pound's good life at St Elisabeths.  I never hear
> anything about Torrey's book--he seems generally unread--but I found
> it plausible and well researched.  Any other opinions on the work out
> there?
> "This world is but a single dewdrop, set
> trembling upon a stem ;  and yet . . . and yet . . ."
>                                               from "The Autumn
> Cricket,"
>                                              15th cent. Japanese Noh
> play
> Robert E. Kibler, Ph.D.
> Department of Communication Arts
> Valley City State University
> Valley City, North Dakota
> [log in to unmask]