Spanning nearly a lifetime, from 1907 to 1963, the friendship between ""Liebes Ezrachen"" and ""Deer Bull"" makes up, in...


POUND/WILLIAMS: Selected Correspondence of Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams

Spanning nearly a lifetime, from 1907 to 1963, the friendship between ""Liebes Ezrachen"" and ""Deer Bull"" makes up, in Pound's words, ""two halves of what might have made a fairly decent poet"" divided by ""the wide atlantic ocean."" Their more than 50 years of animated letters started after a friendship at the University of Pennsylvania, continued through their ties to Imagism, then endured as they pursued their differing yet consonant ideas of poetry. The cosmopolitan Pound took up with expatriate T.S. Eliot (whom Williams detested) and began his inexhaustible Cantos; Williams stayed a suburban doctor-poet, championing American poets such as Marianne Moore and fashioning his own Objectivist poetry. But their always lively postal exchanges, which Williams used in his epic Paterson, extended over serious criticism of each other's work, literary gossip, recommended reading, and arguments over poetry and national identity. The peculiar intimacy of their relationship meant they disagreed repeatedly, but eventually, as this collection illustrates, it was strained by Pound's anti-Semitism and Mussolini worship until the epistolary blackout during WW II, when Pound made his treasonous broadcasts. Although Williams thought Pound was a traitor evading his fate in St. Elizabeth's asylum, their correspondence continued, Pound writing in his eclectic idiolect, Williams responding thoughtfully and at length. Unfortunately, the later scandal over Pound's award for the Pisan Cantos in 1949 and Williams's problems during the Red Scare are absent from their correspondence. Editor Witemeyer (English/Univ. of New Mexico), in addition to contributing useful introductions to each period and a sizeable ""who's who"" appendix, diligently footnotes as many references and allusions as he can (some notes are longer than the letters). A fascinating record, and a double window into the biographies of two major poets.

Pub Date: March 29, 1996


Page Count: 480

Publisher: New Directions

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996