EZRA POUND AND JAMES LAUGHLIN by David McCall Gordon

EZRA POUND AND JAMES LAUGHLIN

Selected Letters

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Only serious Poundians will want to delve into this selection from the poet's correspondence with his protÇgÇ and publisher, James Laughlin. As dense and difficult as Pound's poetry, his letters indulge his penchant for odd punctuation, excessive wordplay, intentional misspellings, and typographical high jinks. From almost three thousand items of correspondence between Pound and Laughlin, Gordon pieces together bits of nearly four hundred letters to form a somewhat cohesive narrative. But the going is tough, relieved only by the editor's prose and annotations. But even here, Gordon is given to Poundian eccentricity, leaving some things hopelessly obscure and elaborating on the ridiculously obvious. Laughlin's relations with Pound (1885-1972) begin in 1933, when the young Harvard student (1914-) seeks out his idol, and eventually studies with him informally in Italy at ``Ezruversity.'' Pound smartly steers the aspiring poet toward publishing--and thus was born New Directions, home to Pound as well as Pound's friends, whom Laughlin promoted with enthusiasm and generosity. Laughlin stuck with his mentor through the difficult war years, when Pound's cranky politics and anti-Semitism made him persona non grata in American literary circles. Laughlin never gives in to Pound's dumb social ideas, but he does mimic his goofy epistolary style. Among Pound's better puns and epithets are ``Bitch and Bugle'' for Hound and Horn, ``hippopoetess'' for Amy Lowell, and ``Nude Erections'' for New Directions. But repeated over and over, these tend to wear thin, much like Pound's non-literary opinions. The latest in a series of volumes of letters between Laughlin and his authors--others include Kenneth Rexroth, Delmore Schwartz, and William Carlos Williams--this is surely the most dizzying.

Pub Date: March 28th, 1994
ISBN: 0-393-03540-9
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1994




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