POUND/FORD: The Story of a Literary Friendship by Brita--Ed. Lindberg-Seyersted

POUND/FORD: The Story of a Literary Friendship

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Unlike the tempestuously psychological friendships of such writerly pairs as Hemingway-and-Fitzgerald, the link between Ezra Pound and Ford Madox Ford was an almost utterly literary one, filled with a certain mutual distance; it was however, like so many artistic support-systems, wildly lopsided. Coming to Ford in London in the 1910s, Pound was taken promptly under wing--and that Fordian canopy would never be withdrawn, even when Pound became cussed, ungrateful, or (ultimately) insane: the worst Ford could ever bring himself to say was that Pound behaved rather badly when one tried to help him. But, in return, as Lindberg-Seyersted points out in this calm, neat account (annotated letters with a chronological narrative), Pound paid Ford lip-service at best, with only the most mutteringly gnomic statements about Ford's great novels. The choicest material here, then, is Ford on Pound. He calls him ""the kindest-hearted man who ever cut a throat. . . ."" He acutely responds to Pound's work: ""Ezra is a great Pope-poet because he works much as Flaubert did. He 'charges' his words, watches his sentences, sees that his paragraphs make friction one against the other. Ceteris mutatis, his CANTOS might be BOUVARD ET PECUCHET of the North Mediterranean littoral."" And, enlivened by such chunks of Ford's rambling yet brilliant criticism (of others as well as Pound), this solid work of scholarship vividly captures the Ford/Pound relationship: the image that comes to mind is that of a man flying a wild bird on a string. A reliable, readable book for students of either figure.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1982
Publisher: New Directions