POUND/LEWIS: The Letters of Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis by Timothy--Ed. Materer

POUND/LEWIS: The Letters of Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis

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The various recent presentations of Pound's letters have offered little new important literary/critical material--but the better cullings, like this collection of Pound/Lewis correspondence, do provide lively, illuminating glimpses of the Pound personality in curious interplay with other idiosyncratic sorts. British novelist/essayist/painter Lewis (1884-1957) was no less fierce than Pound, and equally foolish in politics (though with less drastic results)--but, in most of these exchanges, he comes off as the very voice of reason. Pound, with that amazing stamina, is seen here hawking Lewis' paintings, agenting for Lewis' books, handling Lewis' accounts during World War I (when Lewis was in the gun emplacements); later Pound will be urging Lewis to live in Italy, to exhibit his work there, to apply for a Guggenheim grant. Yet, against all these energies, Lewis always held back. After all, as he wrote in Bombing and Bombadiering (one of many useful annotation/excerpts here): ""I entertained a most healthy suspicion of all Pound's enthusiasms--was I not one myself?"" And to be a Pound enthusiasm was clearly an exhausting job, requiring a quick damper--as when Pound sent an unsolicited letter to the Guggenheim people on Lewis' behalf: ""Excuse me. . . once more for putting obstacles in the way of your impulse to befriend: all I mean to say is for the love of Mike be discreet, never never say your friend is hard-up (you will make people sick, so they'll at once go and attack him for getting into such a disgusting state)"", etc. Through the earlier decades, then, the correspondence here contains choice elements of high comedy. But, in the late Forties and the Fifties, tragedy, of course, takes over. . . with Pound writing from St. Elizabeths, Lewis blind yet creatively vigorous. Two writers of historical importance, both prey to folly, only one of them able to rescue himself from it: an intriguing character-study through letters--thanks, in great part, to the careful bridging material and the very good footnotes of editor Materer (U. of Missouri-Columbia).

Pub Date: March 1st, 1985
Publisher: New Directions