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The Modernist Volcano

Stephen Wilson

Ezra Pound: Poet (A Portrait of the Man and his Work) I: The Young Genius 1885-1920, by A David Moody, Oxford University Press, 544 pp, £25, ISBN: 978-0199215577



In a poem, “Monumentum Aere, Etc.”, first published in 1914 in Blast, a short-lived but highly influential magazine edited by Wyndham Lewis that styled itself the “Review of the Great English Vortex”, Ezra Pound roundly abused his critics for their inability to distinguish between what is important and what is not:

In a few years no one will remember the buffo,

No one will remember the trivial parts of me,

The comic detail will be absent

As for you, you will rot in the earth,

And it is doubtful if even your manure will be rich enough

To keep grass

Over your grave.

(Collected Shorter Poems 166)

Vaunting future fame in the face of present neglect is a stock response and Blast has lost whatever capacity to shock it once had. However, Pound’s objection to a defective strategy of reading that cannot separate what is essential, the poet and the poetry, from what is merely accidental or contingent, the biographical “buffo” and “comic detail”, remains a matter of interest.

Pound has, of course, survived his contemporary critics but things have not turned out exactly as he predicted. He is remembered as one of the most important and influential poets of the twentieth century, a central and decisive figure in the development of modernism, but also as a fascist and anti-Semite who broadcast over Rome Radio during World War II, as a result of which he was indicted for treason and returned to the United States, only to be declared unfit to stand trial by reason of insanity and incarcerated for thirteen years in a Washington hospital for the criminally insane. Pound’s life and work form a complex and inextricable totality that disconcerts the somewhat naive distinctions around which “Monumentum Aere, Etc.” is organised and it has, in spite of the poet’s evident dislike of the genre, given rise to a great deal of biographical writing of one sort and another. There are already three major biographies of Pound – Charles Norman’s Ezra Pound (1960), Noel Stock’s The Life of Ezra Pound (1970) and Humphrey Carpenter’s A Serious Character: The Life of Ezra Pound (1988) – and a number of shorter “lives” (of which Peter Ackroyd’s Ezra Pound and His World is probably the pick, if only for the illustrations). In addition there are numerous books dealing with a single phase or facet of Pound’s life (these range from James J Wilhelm’s The American Roots of Ezra Pound and Ezra Pound’s Kensington: An Exploration 1885-1913 by Patricia Hutchins to Julien Cornell’s The Trial of Ezra Pound. A Documented Account of the Treason Case by the Defendant’s Lawyer andTim Redman’s Ezra Pound and Italian Fascism)as well as biographically-orientated works of criticism. One consequence of this is that most of what there is to be known about Ezra Pound is now known and that there are unlikely to any further dramatic revelations or surprises. This is, of course, not the same thing as saying that the case is closed or that there is no need or scope for further work in the field.

A David Moody’s biographydeals with the first thirty-five years of Pound’s life and for the most part follows a familiar line. Moody takes Pound from Idaho to Philadelphia, puts him through college at Pennsylvania and Hamilton, accompanies him on his brief foray into academic life at Wabash College (Indiana) and dispatches him to London via Gibraltar and Venice. The narrative of the London years is also a familiar sequence of episodes – Pound’s meeting with Elkin Mathews (his first publisher) and his crashing of literary London (including the obligatory reference to the Punch lampoon of June 1909), the return to the United States in 1910-11, marriage, imagism, vorticism, World War I and the turn to Social Credit and finally his postwar disillusionment with London and his departure for Paris. Unavoidably, Moody’s account of Pound’s London friendships and contacts is something of a round-up of the usual suspects: WB Yeats, Ford Madox Hueffer, TE Hulme, Wyndham Lewis, AR Orage (the editor of New Age), James Joyce, TS Eliot and economic heresiarch Major CH Douglas (the founder of the Social Credit movement). All of this is done efficiently, scrupulously and, as I have said, without any dramatic new revelations or radical revisionism, although there are of course reinterpretations and shifts of emphasis.



What distinguishes Moody’s workis that it is, as its title suggests, the biography of a poet and of a body of writing (writing rather than simply verse or poetry because, commendably, due attention is paid to Pound’s prose). Moody is not an historian or professional biographer but a literary critic and his narrative includes extended accounts of Pound’s individual books of poetry that trace volume by volume his development from A Lume Spento (printed in Venice in 1908) to Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (published in London by The Ovid Press in 1920). For Moody each volume has its own elaborate, sometimes recondite, formal and thematic organisation and is also integrated into the totality of Pound’s work. He sees no break or rupture in Pound’s development, and for him the poetry, from the early thematic and formal experiments based on Provençal and medieval models to the modernism of the early cantos (which began to appear in 1917) and Mauberley constitutes a single and continuous whole. I am inclined to see Pound’s development as more jagged and discontinuous than Moody makes it appear and I suspect that the recondite structures discovered in Pound’s earliest books owe at least as much to Moody’s ingenuity as they do to authorial design, but the enterprise as a whole is immensely impressive and it is worth reading the book for these accounts alone.



Writing a biography of Pound as a poet does not entail relegating whatever is deemed “non-poetic” in him, and particularly his fascism and anti-Semitism, to the status of those “trivial parts” that are best forgotten. For Moody, to see Pound first and last as a poet does not exclude consideration of his political, economic and social views (or any other aspect of his life) but provides the ground for understanding them. This is always the biography of the poet that Pound eventually became. The story of his development as a poet, as Moody tells it, is the story of a movement towards an ever greater degree of “realism” (essentially the capacity to engage actively, although not always directly, and instrumentally with the modern world). Even his earliest and seemingly most “poetic” work is seen as opposing the “crepuscular spirit” in modern poetry. In support of this point Moody cites Pound’s praise in 1910 for Yeats’s “new lyrics”, presumably those included in The Green Helmet and Other Poems (1910) for having “come out of the shadows and declared for life”. Pursuing this line, Moody reads the versions of Chinese poetry in Cathay (1915) as Pound’s poetic response to World War I and presents an excellent account of the public and political dimension of imagism. Pound, he argues persuasively, was “proposing, in all seriousness, to found the ideal state upon the Image”:

Poetry … was the necessary basis of a just society, because to attain the good of the greatest number we must first establish accurately and precisely of what nature individuals are and what it is they desire. That is the scientific work of the serious artist. His task is to present the true ‘image of his desire, of his hate, of his indifference’; to define and bear witness to ‘the inner nature and conditions of man’; to give ‘lasting and unassailable data regarding the nature of man, of immaterial man, of man considered as a thinking and sentient’ individual. Thus the arts, and poetry in particular, provide the essential data for ethics and civics – and by extension for the proper government of the state.

As Pound begins to develop a distinctively modern idiom in Lustra (1916) and in the poems that follow it – particularly Homage to Sextus Propertius (1919), Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920) and the early drafts of cantos – his engagement with the modern world becomes more direct and his instrumentalism less attenuated as he becomes the chronicler of an empire in decay. In this matter judgment will have to be held over until the appearance of the second volume covering the period of Pound’s involvement with Italian fascism and The Cantos, but for the present one does not have to agree with everything that Moody says (and I certainly don’t) in order to recognise the value of his approach.

Ezra Pound was born on October 30th, 1885 in Hailey, Idaho, then a frontier mining town (his father, Homer Loomis Pound, worked in the Federal Land Office). His mother, Isabel (née Weston), apparently found Hailey “rather too unlike New York” and the family moved back east when Ezra was about a year old, eventually settling in Philadelphia, where Homer got a job in the assayer’s department of the United States Mint. Pound’s boyhood in the suburb of Wyncote seems to have been uneventful and generally happy (although he would later claim that he always felt “foreign” there). The major event of these years seems to have been his trip to Europe with “Aunt Frank” (Frances Amelia Weston) in 1898, which Pound fondly recalled in the Pisan Cantos nearly fifty years later: “but at least she saw damn all Europe/ and rode on that mule in Tangiers/ and in general had a run for her money”. The Westons could claim a distant kinship with Longfellow and it is generally assumed that Pound’s literary and intellectual interests were fostered by his mother’s side of the family. That may be so, but his father also played a very significant role and one of the best things about this biography is its perceptive and generous treatment of Homer Pound.

Moody warns that “one could underestimate Homer”, and in most accounts he is indeed overshadowed by his more flamboyant father, Thaddeus Coleman Pound (a minor Gilded Age robber baron and one time Republican congressman for Wisconsin) and by Ezra himself. Homer’s virtues were unspectacular but impressive: he “held his own and [did] his job in [a] wild west mining town, and [did] it without a gun and while, reportedly, drinking only lemonade in its saloons”; if he is sometimes seen to have been lacking in ambition or “drive” this may have been, Moody suggests, “because he never felt the need to prove himself”. Homer acted as Ezra’s unofficial (and unpaid) literary agent, sending his work out to American magazines and publishers, boosting him in the local newspapers and lobbying editors to procure favourable reviews, and well into his son’s adult life was a generous and unfailing source of financial support. In letters to his parents Pound would dutifully lament his lack of “a definite salaried position” though without, as Moody points out, ever doing anything to put himself “at risk of securing one”. In a letter home Pound told his father that “being family to a wild poet aint no bed of roses but you stand the strain just fine”. Moody writes that there is nothing “to suggest that Homer ever deviated from good sense, good will to all men, and absolute devotion to Ezra”. I would agree unreservedly with both comments.

Pound entered the University of Pennsylvania in 1901 and spent two not entirely successful or happy years there before poor grades led to a transfer to Hamilton College. It was during this time that he first met Hilda Doolittle and William Carlos Williams. Academically at least Pound fared better at Hamilton. It was there that he first studied Italian and Provençal and also Anglo-Saxon. He returned to the University of Pennsylvania in 1905 to begin graduate work in romance languages and obtained an MA in 1906; he began working towards a doctorate but this stalled within a year (largely it would seem because Pound was unwilling to subordinate his own interests to the demands of the university). He subsequently described his student days thus: “Entered U.P. Penn at 15 with intention of studying comparative values in literature (poetry) and began doing so unbeknown to the faculty”. Moody, taking a lead from this, writes of Pound’s as a “double life, attending classes and playing some part in student activities, while privately pursuing his own specialized studies”. I detect a degree of retrospective self-justification and tidying up of the record here, but it is certain that Pound’s studies were profoundly important for his development as a poet. His first five books of poetry – A Lume Spento, A Quinzaine for this Yule (1908), Personae of Ezra Pound, Exultations of Ezra Pound (1909) and Canzoni of Ezra Pound (1911) – and his first prose work – The Spirit of Romance (1910) – are all wholly or in large part a reworking of the Provençal and other medieval material he gleaned from his studies at Pennsylvania and Hamilton, and this material continues to be an important element in the later work (including The Cantos). There is however little evidence to support the claim, made by Moody and others, that he began work on a long poem that eventually became The Cantos while he was still at Hamilton.

In 1907, with his graduate work at Pennsylvania evidently going nowhere, Pound accepted a teaching post in romance languages at Wabash Presbyterian College, Crawfordsville, Indiana. He had by this time published very little but he had developed the mannerisms and “Latin Quarter” ways that he regarded as proper to a poet and would-be cosmopolitan. Crawfordsville did not like the cut of his jib and his teaching career lasted one semester. His departure in February 1908 was triggered by a scandal involving him innocently giving a night’s shelter to a young woman from a vaudeville show who found herself stranded in the town. Moody’s admirably succinct account says all that need be said of this incident: “He was invited to resign; did resign; was offered his job back – refused it.” He returned briefly to Philadelphia but then departed for London.

Moody offers no account of the wider political context of the United States in the early years of the twentieth century but it is worth noting that Pound’s formative years in the US coincided almost exactly with President Theodore Roosevelt’s administration (1901–1909). Moody may not have considered this within the remit of a biographer of a poet, although what is widely regarded as Pound’s first published poem, “Ezra on the Strike” (printed anonymously in a Philadelphia local newspaper in November 1902), was a tribute to Roosevelt, who had ended a five-month-long coal strike by threatening military intervention and thus compelling the mine owners and the strikers to settle their dispute by arbitration. This was Roosevelt in two of his favourite roles, the man of decisive and direct action and the populist friend of the people. Pound’s poem celebrates both:

By shucks! It seems to me,

That you and I orter be

Thankful, that our Ted could see

A way to operate it …

No use talkin’, he’s the man –

One of the best thet ever ran,

Fer didn’t I turn Republican

One o’ the fust?

Pound’s paternal grandfather, Thaddeus Coleman Pound, had been a Mugwump (one of those Republicans who “bolted” rather than support the party’s nominee, James G Blaine, in 1884), and western or radical Republicanism was part of his political heritage. In the 1900s this would have made Pound a Roosevelt Republican, a position he never completely abandoned.

When Pound arrived in London in 1908 he immediately set about establishing himself as a poet. He touted A Lume Spento around bookshops and editors and within a few months had persuaded Elkin Mathews to publish A Quinzaine for this Yule. Two more volumes followed in 1909 and Pound began attract a few favourable reviews and a coterie of admirers. By the time he returned briefly to the United States in 1910 he had made his mark on literary London and in particular had become friends with Ford Madox Hueffer and WB Yeats (meeting Yeats, whom at that time he regarded as the greatest living poet in English, was one of his reasons for going to London in the first place). Ford published Pound in The English Review, of which he was editor, but his real influence on his development was as a critic who insisted that “poetry should be written at least as well as prose”. Pound later recalled Ford rolling on the floor (presumably in agony or derision) in response to the “stilted language” of Canzoni (1911). The results of this begin to be apparent with the tentative experiments with a more modern idiom and with vers librein Ripostes (1912) and, more obviously, in the two poetic sequences “Lustra” and “Contemporania” published in 1913 and in the versions of Chinese poetry (the first fruits of Pound’s work on the papers of the American orientalist Ernest Fenellosa) in Cathay (1915). The prose virtues of precision and clarity extolled by Ford are also to be found in the canons of Imagisme which Pound began formulating in 1912-13. Ford can be said to have made possible Pound’s emergence as a modern poet dealing directly with the contemporary world in a language stripped of archaism and “the poetic” in Lustra (1916).

In 1913 Pound met Wyndham Lewis and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. In 1914 TS Eliot arrived in London and he also began corresponding with James Joyce; thus it was at the time that Pound was refashioning himself as a modern poet that he came into contact with three of the other seminal figures of the modern movement and from this conjunction modernism may be said to have emerged. Pound had been dreaming of forming or leading a movement for change and renewal in the arts: imagism and vorticism were both attempts to do just that. In 1914 he began to see the possibility of something that would be more radical and far-reaching than either of these, a renaissance or a revolution or something that partook of the nature of both.

Pound’s crashing of the London literary scene between 1908 and 1910 had demonstrated his talent as self-promoter and self-publicist. He now placed his talents in these areas, and his genius for recognising and fostering new talent, at the service of others and of the “cause”. In 1914 James Joyce and TS Eliot were virtually unknown and Pound immediately set to work on their behalf: getting their work published, writing favourable reviews and boosting them whenever and wherever possible. He also helped them financially (from 1915 on his efforts were partially bankrolled by John Quinn). Initially Pound’s idea seems to have been that he, Eliot. Joyce and Lewis could be formed into what Moody calls an “Intelligence Unit”, elite shock troops of the avant garde of the new order. However, Eliot was cautious and circumspect, Joyce disinclined to journalism or polemic and Lewis in the army so Pound ended up doing most of the work himself. Moody records that Pound “published over sixty items in periodicals between May and December 1917” in addition to maintaining, as he did throughout his life, a voluminous correspondence; it is no wonder that around this time he wrote to Wyndham Lewis “my present existence is that of a highly mechanised typing volcano”. However, these efforts, which were crucial to the development of modernism, paid off and Pound may be said to have got his renaissance or revolution.

Moody gives an interesting and persuasive account of the courtship and marriage of Ezra and Dorothy Shakespear. In the first instance the marriage was opposed by Dorothy’s parents and for a time the couple were forbidden to see each other. Pound did endeavour to persuade Henry Hope Shakespear, Dorothy’s father, of his eligibility but, by Moody’s account, they were far from a lovelorn couple fretting and pining under the restrictions of heartless parents. They seemed to have accepted the situation with equanimity and to have been been fairly content to conduct their relationship by letter (something they continued to do when meeting was no longer forbidden and they were living within walking distance of each other). Moody records, but does not endorse, the rumour that after their marriage they slept apart and quotes the observation of Hilda Aldington (H.D.) that “Dorothy appeared sexually unawakened” with the qualification that H.D. was “not always a reliable witness”.

More recent biographical writing has tended to present the Pound of the London years as something of a womaniser. Moody quotes Conrad’s remark (to John Quinn) that Pound “has many women at his feet”, something which Conrad thought “must be immensely comforting”, but is cautious to the point of reticence on the subject of Pound’s love life. He does consider the claims that Bridget Patmore and Iseult Gonne (both ladies with strong Irish connections) had affairs with Pound but declines to commit himself. In his preface Moody claims to have “refrained from speculation” and “to have ignored hearsay”, and this no doubt is an instance of these virtues in action (though it should be added that he sets the bar of proof very high indeed). He is also sceptical of claims that Pound shared the “facination” of Yeats and others of his circle with the occult. In this he is correct in so far as “Pound did not take part in séances, consult mediums, or enter the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn”. But this is a narrow definition of the occult and there is more to be said on the subject. Pound was what is sometimes called a “pagan fundamentalist” and the occult did play a significant part in his thinking even if it does not provide the master key to his work that some have claimed. This matter becomes more urgent in the 1920s and 1930s and so it may be as well to suspend judgment until the second volume of Ezra Pound: Poet isin hand. Moody’s severe way with some of the biographical buffo that over the years has accumulated around his subject furnishes further evidence of his scrupulousness. Pound was not “born in Butte, Montana, in a blizzard” and he did not cross the Atlantic “on a cattle boat … just after the Spanish-American War” as Ford Madox Hueffer claimed, nor, disappointingly, did he eat the floral decorations of dinner tables (at least not as part of his regular diet). He did, however, for a time, sport a turquoise earring.

Although he did not fight in it, World War I had a profound and lasting effect on Pound. As Moody expresses it, “his Imagiste movement and the Vorticist movement [were] swept away in the general mobilisation for war”. Many Imagistes and vorticists, and many other writers and artists, were also swept away. Ford Madox Hueffer, TE Hulme, Wyndham Lewis and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska all went to the trenches and Hulme and Gaudier-Brzeska were killed. Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920) contains Pound’s angry elegy for them:

There dies a myriad,

And of the best, among them,

For an old bitch gone in the teeth,

For a botched civilization (552)

It is often said that the war politicised Pound. Appalled by the senseless slaughter and waste, the story goes, the poet, whose concerns had hitherto been purely “literary”, sought an explanation and a remedy, a way of preventing anything like it from ever happening again, and found it in the Social Credit economics of Major CH Douglas (whom he first met in the New Age offices in 1919). This is a story that requires considerable qualification.

As Moody’s biography makes abundantly clear, Pound was never “purely literary”, and in respect of World War I he was from the outset a belligerent, that is to say he was an advocate of American entry into the war on the side of Britain and France. To his credit he did not glorify or romanticise war, as in their different ways did Marinetti and Rupert Brooke, but he did see the war as a clear-cut choice between good and evil, civilisation and barbarism (in this context civilisation is not simply a matter of pictures and books but is predicated on the belief that “the state exists for the sake of the individual” and not vice versa). The “double city” of Paris and London was, for Pound, the heart of civilisation and had to be defended against “teutonic atavism”. This was a position he maintained until the end of the war. In a letter to his father of August 1917, that is after the United States had entered the war, he refuses to condemn conscription although he concedes that “it must be especially bitter” for those who “dont [sic] give a curse whether London and Paris and all they mean, are destroyed or not”. The letter continues:

America is fighting on my side, probably for reasons not in the least my own … Certainly the bosche must be beaten. That proposition is of more importance to me than what America now does. The greater part she takes in it, the better for her. I see nothing to do but keep quiet. I would have had America in two or three years ago with a volunteer army.

Moody quotes this letter at length but once again misses, or at any rate underplays, the American dimension. Whatever his reasons for assuming it, Pound’s belligerent stance was in practice identical to that of Theodore Roosevelt and his supporters. (Roosevelt had broken away from the Republican Party at the 1912 election and formed the United States Progressive Party, usually referred to as the Bull Moose Party.) The extent to which Pound identified his own position on the war with Roosevelt’s is clear in the letters he wrote to John Quinn at the time, which show him to have been fascinated by and somewhat in awe of Roosevelt. When Quinn brought a piece by Pound arguing the case for American entry into the war to Roosevelt’s attention (Roosevelt and Quinn were friends) Pound thanked him, adding that he would not have had the “nerve” to send it to “T.R.” himself.

Along with the sort of political chatter one might expect (for example Pound regrets that Roosevelt was not nominated as the Republican presidential candidate for the 1916 election) the letters contain nuggets of information and “points” for Quinn to pass on to Roosevelt. It is as if Pound is attempting to conduct a correspondence with Roosevelt through Quinn. After the United States entered the war in April 1917 this tendency became more marked and took a remarkable turn. Referring to Roosevelt’s proposal that he be allowed to raise, and lead in person, a volunteer company to fight on the Western Front, Pound wrote to Quinn: “Is Roosevelt coming to France? If so can I get ‘took on’ as interpreter, liaison-officer, correspondent or anything?” Pound goes on to suggest that Quinn might “mention the matter” to Roosevelt and adds: “I have always been told that T.R. and my grandfather were on the same side of the fight in the party convention of ’84.” Pound returned to this proposal in two subsequent letters. I think it is highly unlikely that Quinn did “mention the matter” and, probably fortunately for the Allied cause, neither Roosevelt’s nor Pound’s offer was taken up, but this bizarre episode does give an insight into Pound’s thinking on the war and into his politics generally.

World War I did not politicise Pound in the sense that it created either his political awareness or the specific form that awareness took; rather it brought into focus and lent a new urgency to a pre-existing “politics”. Even Pound’s conversion to Social Credit is best understood in these terms; in 1919 Douglas’s economic theories, with their distrust of banks and financiers, must have seemed to Pound to be a continuation and extension of the populist strain in radical (or Roosevelt) Republicanism. Later in his life he reinvented his grandfather, Thaddeus, as a sort of ur-Social Crediter, but in 1919 he accommodated Douglas to his grandfather’s distinctively American political legacy. Nor, of course, was Pound’s sense of the political or public dimension of poetry a product of the war. I have referred to Moody’s excellent account of Pound’s concept of the “realism” of poetry and of the centrality and importance of poetry to the life of the state; after 1914, in Moody’s words, “the promotion of realist writing became Pound’s war effort”. I would qualify this to read “the promotion and the production”: in the war years this realist imperative called forth the best of Pound’s writing outside the The CantosLustra, Hugh Selwyn Mauberley and Homage to Sextus Propertius.

Both Pound’s politics and his poetics can be traced back to before 1914. What the war did was to articulate them to form a new poetic of public poetry that would continue to inform and shape his work long after 1918. Towards the end of thevolume, Moody provides the following account of Pound’s meeting with Arthur Griffith in London in 1921:

‘One of the most illuminating hours of my life’, he recalled in 1937, ‘was that spent in conversation with Griffith, the [leader] of Sinn Fein’. That would have been in October 1921, ‘the time of the Armistice when the Irish delegates had been invited to London with a guarantee of immunity’ for the negotiations over Irish independence. ‘We were in his room to avoid the detectives who infested the hotel’, and Pound was trying to persuade Griffith to take up Douglas’s economic ideas in the new Irish Free State. Then, ‘At a certain point Griffith said: “All you say is true. But I can’t move ’em with a cold thing like economics”. That remark would stay with Pound for the rest of his life, as a constant reminder that intelligence by itself did not bring about change, that it counted for very little without the will to change. How to ‘move ’em’ became a basic preoccupation in all he did thereafter, both as a poet and as prose propagandist.

The Cantos can usefully be read as the central to this effort, as an attempt to “move ’em”.

In a phrase of the time, Pound had had a “good war”, but he found post-World War I London neither congenial nor welcoming. The city now seemed to him exhausted (he frequently described it as “dead”), no longer the metropolitan vortex he had once thought it but the centre of postwar paralysis. He had engineered a revolution in English writing – modernism – but its effects were not yet fully apparent and he had made many enemies in the course of doing it. Pound’s sometimes abrasive style, the “buffo”, alienated many and when London literary society began to reform in 1919 it effectively closed ranks against him – he found it difficult to place an article and his books were not reviewed. Even in avant garde circles his leading role had been usurped by his former protégé TS Eliot. Pound was bored with London and London was bored with Pound. Clearly it was time to move on and that is what he did – to Paris.

Moody’s first volume leaves Pound in the throes of that move, as it were in mid-Channel. Beyond Paris lies Italy, Mussolini, fascism, the Rome Radio broadcasts and all that followed from them. For the biographer and his subject the most difficult years are yet to come. For the reader they will also be the most interesting. Moody has done more than enough to leave me looking forward to his second volume.


Stephen Wilson, who studied at the University of Ulster and Trinity College Dublin, teaches American literature at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. He is currently working on a book on Ezra Pound and American history.

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