Guide Ezra Pound

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  1. Ezra Pound | Books | The Guardian
  2. Poet in the City
  3. Biography Newsletter

Nothing embodies my privilege as a straight woman more than the game of self-deception I play when I hear that juddering beat, singing along to every obscene word — apart from the ones that force queer people to remain closeted. And yet. The Simpsons has shaped my psychology to a degree one would usually attribute to a parent, or a particularly devout upbringing. I am a zealot. I love fictional Springfield more than real-life Britain.

This grotesque caricature has gone beyond the 2D confines of animation to shape the real-life experiences of desis. South Asian actors have described the humiliation of being told to adopt Kwik-E-Mart diction at auditions; and the Apu accent — clickedy-clack cadence, tongue glued to the palate — has pursued me through playgrounds and then pubs, mostly via white people who love The Simpsons as much as I do.

I support both these movements. I am also profoundly mortified by the politics of one of my favourite poets. Ezra Pound was a pioneer of the most exciting aesthetic movement of the 20th century. He was also a fascist. A vituperative antisemite.

Early life and career

The mind that produced the sparse beauty of that poem wanted to annihilate the political and social groups that he deemed at odds with his cause. Not only did he court private audiences with Mussolini, he delivered pro-axis and anti-Jew broadcasts four times a week between and , on Italian radio.

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Ezra Pound | Books | The Guardian

He considered himself a propagandist. Canto XLV , one of his many attacks on financiers, is suffused with antisemitic language and imagery. Nor are these just the concerns of the past: the coding of Jews as illicitly wealthy and conspiring against democracy is again a feature of European politics. So what are we to do with our problematic faves? For me, the biggest lesson is that studying English literature at university is a recipe for misery.

It was the discovery of a common enemy that, ultimately, drew the German volk together in that experience of brotherhood which they craved; it was the common determination to eradicate "Jewishness," rather than the irresistible will of the Fuhrer, that impelled Germany forward toward the conquest of Europe; it was the trench heaped with naked corpses, the polished boots and the clean gloves of the SS officer staring down with cool contempt at the dead, that became for almost all of us the ultimate symbols of fascism.


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From an attempt to recover authentic community and legitimate authority to the cooly mechanized mass murder of Auschwitz and Babi Yar: so moves, in brief, the inexorable, terrible dialectic of fascism. Furthermore, Pound increasingly tended to identify the "obstructers," the "hoggers of the harvest," as Jews, so that by the terms "usury" and "kikery" had become, for him, synonymous. During the s Mussolini fell more and more under the sway of Hitler, whom he had once regarded with contempt. Consider the following dates:. Mussolini is at first deeply suspicious of this new brand of "fascism.

Mussolini increasingly discards the "revolutionary" rhetoric which he had employed as late as the early s. Instead he tends to portray himself as the defender of "Catholic Christian culture" against the destructive threat of "atheistic" or "Jewish" in fascist rhetoric these terms tend to become interchangeable bolshevism.

Poet in the City

He sends armies into Spain and Ethiopia, under the banner of "Catholic Christian culture. The self-proclaimed worshipper of Venus who had once condemned Christianity itself as a hypocritical fraud now extolls the virtues of "Catholic culture" [p ]. Yet neither Pound nor Mussolini have become "believers.

To his praise of Catholicism, Pound subjoins an attack on Protestantism and on "semitic" ways of thinking [p ]. In Pound begins a series of broadcasts over Rome radio in which he acclaims Hitler and Mussolini as defenders of "Europe" against a gigantic Jewish conspiracy and vigorously defends the right of Germany and Italy to conquer and rule over the "inferior" peoples of eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. Actually, there are relatively few references to Jews in the cantos which Pound wrote during the ls, but these references seem to me very significant.

The tone of this canto suggests a facile, snobbish, but still essentially superficial "social" anti-semitism. But I do not hear a hatred of Jews in this canto, rather, if anything, I hear a distinct envy of. On the other hand, Canto 52 opens with a blast of vicious Jew-hatred, worthy of a Hitler.

Biography Newsletter

These passages suggest that Daniel Pearlman was quite correct to detect in Pound an impulse to identify with Jews as well as a deep hatred of Jews. Thus the "Jewish theme" in The Cantos seems to move, like the other themes I have here discussed, toward paradox. Indeed, Jews seem to possess all of the traits that Pound admired, but always "in excess.

At the same time, Pound sees in the loyalty of Jews toward one another an inverted reflection of his own a vision of an artistic community.