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Lot 66: Pound, Ezra. A collection of twelve typed and autograph letters signed.
July 11, 2014
Calabasas, CA, USALive Auction
66. Pound, Ezra. A collection of twelve typed and autograph letters signed capturing his insanity that lead to his arrest for treason and his containment in a mental facility.
In his cryptic hand, expatriate Ezra Pound, vehemently discusses politics and literature.
Renowned poet, Ezra Pound, is remembered for inventing imagism, a type of poetry that embodied Japanese and Chinese poetry forms. Pound wrote with sharp precision and astute detail using minimal words. Pound became an avid political renegade after World War I, when he fled to Italy from the United States because he was so distraught over the horror of the war. His dear friend Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, who designed the imprint profile on Pound’s stationery, was killed in the war. It was shortly after this, Pound’s profound depression took over and his efforts lie in criticizing governments and politics while working on epic poems.
In a letter dated 20 December 1916 and addressed to the poetess, C.F.G. Masterman, Pound asks for change: In this Mornings Chronicle, page 3 there is an article headed ‘Rankers Rise leads to Downfall’ in the course of which it states that the accused was sentenced to 3 years penal servitude before the age of 18 for the theft of 5d. I have written to the Chronicle to ask if the statement is correct. In any case it must be officially contradicted and the victim compensated. I dont even know that my letter should be printed. A single statement of this sort is enough to undo months of pro-ally work in America. (Percentage on non P---is still considered despite Wilson). One CANT defend a ‘civilization’ where such things occur. All one can do is to pray that for the present it will escape the eye of the pro-german propagandist. If it is not a printer’s error, one asks if the judge who gave sentence is still on the bench or whether he has been sent to a lunatic asylum. This is not a time for publicity, but something should be done very quickly and quietly…
While some of the letters are undated, probably in an effort to stay private, the archive becomes increasingly more political. It was also around this time period that Pound became friends with T.S. Eliot. Through Pound’s power of persuasion, he was able to coax Poetry magazine to publish Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Pound mentions Eliot in a typed letter signed and undated: Speakin of YOUNG bridson’s choice of langqwidg/ ‘echos’ p. echos/ Me AZSE!!!=E.P. ‘echos’ Mr. Eliot!! In March 1913, I printed a ijee as follows: ‘Pay no attention to the criticism of men who have never themselves written a notable work’. Mr. Eliot was then an undergrad/I think..so I doubt if I have recently ‘echo’d’ him. These/air/but trifles yet they goze ter show—I don’t care to take up so small a chip. But the edtr/is at libruty to quote the remark WITH the date. The letter continues with prattle but seems to mention George Bernard Shaw, whom he entered a tiff with regarding the publication of James Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses: Shaw!! Entering on a new period (say menstruation)..?? Deepest phenomena of G.B.S. (apart concave jaw bone visible in early photos in relation the back of his neck) were a thight foreshin, and going to Morocco fer stone in thr bladder. 30 Dec. Have just signed a contrakk fer a TEX Book/: alas only lichershooz and not the more dangerous subjekk///but ‘ere zopin’.
This present archive shows Pound’s downfall into depression and psychosis. On a typed letter, he hand writes private and confiding as usual and hush around paragraphs that are particularly difficult to understand through his gibberish prose. Pound eventually turned to fascism and became an admirer of Benito Mussolini, even meeting with him and providing him a copy of his Cantos XXX. Pound attempted to discuss his own ideas on economics, which Mussolini dismissed. Pound was eventually arrested for treason, shipped back to the United States where he was admitted into a mental hospital. Upon his release, he maintained his political view in private and continued to publish his poetics.
This extraordinary archive delves into the fragile mind of a highly unstable poet and captures a fascinating period of political unrest and war as well as a renaissance of great literary figures. The rich array of topics includes references to leaders of the United States such as Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge and the literary greats D.H. Lawrence, George Bernard Shaw and T.S. Eliot.
$20,000 - $30,000