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200 × 130 × 15 mm
248 pages
31 illustrations
01 Sep 2011
Critical Lives
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Ezra Pound Alec Marsh

Poet, peace activist, Confucian, fascist, traitor – love him or loathe him, Ezra Pound is impossible to ignore as one of the most influential and controversial poets of modern times. This book raises provocative issues and questions for anyone interested in the politics, art, society and poetry of the 20th century.

No author of Pound’s stature promoted so many artistic acquaintances who would go on to become such distinguished names in their own right. James Joyce and T. S. Eliot were among the many who benefited from Pound’s support and editorial interventions. Without Pound's generosity and promotional zeal, literary modernism might never have happened. Without Pound it could never have developed into the influential movement that it became. Yet by 1925 Pound himself was living obscurely in Italy and finding it difficult getting his own work published. In Italy he became an enthusiastic supporter of Mussolini’s brand of fascism and a radio broadcaster who promoted his own extreme take on political economics. Arrested there by the U.S. Army in 1945, Pound was indicted for treason, found mentally unfit to stand trial, and incarcerated for years in an asylum in Washington, DC.

What happened? How did this great modernist succumb to such outlandish views? Was he insane? Exploring Pound’s essays, correspondence and poetry – and not least the magnum opus, The Cantos, Alec Marsh throws a good deal of demystifying light on Pound’s writings and activities as well as giving us a persuasive account of his troubled life, one that will be essential reading for students and fans of modernist literature.

Alec Marsh is Professor of English, Muhlenberg College, Pennsylvania. He has written extensively on Ezra Pound and is President of the Ezra Pound Society. He is also the author of Money and Modernity: Pound, Williams, and The Spirit of Jefferson (1998).

Prologue: Poetry and Politics

1. Becoming a Poet
2. Making Good in London
3. Inventing Modernism
4. England and its Discontents
5. Paris 1921–24: Olga, Music, Cantos
6. Italy: Father, Poet, Teacher
7. Italy: Politics, Economics, Middle Cantos
8. Hard Right Turn
9. The Enormous Tragedy of the Dream
10. Madman or Political Prisoner?
11. Confucian Martyr and Right-wing Saint
12. Return to Italy

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Photo Acknowledgements