Ezra and Dorothy Pound

Ezra and Dorothy Pound : Letters in Captivity, 1945-46

4.23 (13 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , By (author)  , Volume editor  , Volume editor 

List price: US$35.00

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


A volume of letters capturing the most traumatic experience of Ezra Pound's life, when he was incarcerated at the end of World War II and indicted for treason. Omar Pound and Robert Spoo have collected and edited the unpublished correspondence between the poet and his wife, combining it with military and FBI documents, previously unknown photographs, and an extensive, insightful introduction, to create the definitive work on this period of Pound's life. During his incarceration in a US Army detention camp outside Pisa, Pound was allowed to write only to his wife, so these letters afford a look at a painful yet highly productive period, when Pound wrote his acclaimed "Pisan Cantos" and worked on his translations of Confucius. Readers will discover insights into the sources and contexts of the Cantos and the circumstances of their composition. There are also many moving passages testifying to Pound's partnership with Dorothy and her courageous efforts to help him; her experiences no less than his come to life in this volume.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 414 pages
  • 177.8 x 254 x 38.1mm | 907.18g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Annotated
  • annotated edition
  • 0195107934
  • 9780195107937

Review Text

Was the great poet a traitorous madman or an quixotic visionary? These previously unpublished letters and documents give more evidence for his sanity than for any lack of it. Beginning in 1940, Pound voluntarily broadcast pro-fascist speeches from Italy, aimed at listeners in the US. Americans, he declaimed, had betrayed their own tradition. Not Roosevelt but Mussolini was the inheritor of the American revolutionary legacy: "The heritage of Jefferson...is HERE, NOW in the peninsula at the beginning of the fascist second decennio, not in Massachusetts or Delaware." Pound expounded crackpot economic views (anti-Semitic conspiracy theories) while dispensing Confucian wisdom. In May 1945, American authorities arrested and indicted the 60-year-old poet for treason. He was found insane and committed to a federal mental institution. The documentation here seems contradictory. Reports of Pound's behavior at the time suggest that he was sporadically delusional. For example, when arrested, Pound insisted that he was the right man to negotiate peace with Japan on behalf of the US: "Subject became very indignant," observed his FBI interrogator to J. Edgar Hoover, when the FBI refused to cable his offer to Truman. However, in letters to his wife, Dorothy, Pound comes across here as mundanely sane, even vigorously, impishly self-possessed. He offers her "nooz items" and asks for hers, in return; reports on gifts received ("Eileen have came again with masses of chocolate & a copy of Verlaine"); provides congratulations ("Glad you are payin income tax, indicates existence of income"; and conducts literary conversation in his signature wry lingo (in a cover note to a military censor about poems forwarded to Dorothy, he declared, "The Cantos contain nothing in the nature of a cypher or intended obscurity"). Spoo (English/Univ. of Tulsa) and Omar Pound, the poet's son, offer copious and needed annotations to the highly allusive, typically playful letters. As ever, Pound remains a spitfire conundrum. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Ezra Pound

Omar Pound is a translator of Persian and Arabic poetry and is presently editing letters written during the Indian Mutiny of 1857. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey. Robert Spoo is Associate Professor of English at the University of Tulsa and Editor in Chief of James Joyce Quarterly. He lives in Tulsa.show more

Rating details

13 ratings
4.23 out of 5 stars
5 31% (4)
4 62% (8)
3 8% (1)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X