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The Cambridge Introduction to Ezra Pound
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  • Page extent: 160 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.389 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 811/.52
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: PS3531.O82 Z7575 2007
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Pound, Ezra,--1885-1972--Criticism and interpretation

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521853910)

The Cambridge Introduction to
Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound is one of the most visible and influential poets of the twentieth century. He is also one of the most complex, his poetry containing historical and mythical allusions, experiments of form and style and often controversial political views. Yet Pound’s life and work continue to fascinate. This Introduction is designed to help students reading Pound for the first time. Pound scholar Ira B. Nadel provides a guide to the rich webs of allusion and stylistic borrowings and innovations in Pound’s writing. He offers a clear overview of Pound’s life, works, contexts and reception history and of his multidimensional career as a poet, translator, critic, editor, anthologist and impresario, a career that placed him at the heart of literary modernism. This invaluable and accessible introduction explains the huge contribution Pound made to the development of modernism in the early twentieth century.

IRA B. NADEL is Professor of English at the University of British Columbia. He is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Ezra Pound (1999).

Cambridge Introductions to Literature

This series is designed to introduce students to key topics and authors. Accessible and lively, these introductions will also appeal to readers who want to broaden their understanding of the books and authors they enjoy.

• Ideal for students, teachers, and lecturers
• Concise, yet packed with essential information
• Key suggestions for further reading

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Janette Dillon The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare’s Tragedies
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Kevin J. Hayes The Cambridge Introduction to Herman Melville
David Holdeman The Cambridge Introduction to W. B. Yeats
M. Jimmie Killingsworth The Cambridge Introduction to Walt Whitman
Ronan McDonald The Cambridge Introduction to Samuel Beckett
Wendy Martin The Cambridge Introduction to Emily Dickinson
Peter Messent The Cambridge Introduction to Mark Twain
John Peters The Cambridge Introduction to Joseph Conrad
Sarah Robbins The Cambridge Introduction to Harriet Beecher Stowe
Martin Scofield The Cambridge Introduction to the American Short Story
Emma Smith The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare
Peter Thomson The Cambridge Introduction to English Theatre, 1660–1900
Janet Todd The Cambridge Introduction to Jane Austen
Jennifer Wallace The Cambridge Introduction to Tragedy

The Cambridge Introduction to

Ezra Pound


Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© Ira B. Nadel 2007

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2007

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

ISBN 978-0-521-85391-0 hardback
ISBN 978-0-521-63069-6 paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs
for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not
guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.


  Preface page vii
  Note on the text viii
  List of abbreviations ix
  Chapter 1 Life 1
  Chapter 2 Context 19
  Chapter 3 Works 19
  Poetry to 1920 38
  The Cantos 63
  Prose 85
  Chapter 4 Critical reception
  Notes 106
  Guide to further reading 134
  Index 138


“My eyes are geared for the horizon,” Ezra Pound wrote in 1938 (Guide to Kulchur 55). It’s a telling remark suggesting the breadth and vision of his work, whether in poetry or prose. He thought big, although he argued for concrete details. He promoted large ideas but worked in pieces: his long opus, The Cantos, spanning some fifty-two years of construction. And he always urged, cajoled and pushed – some would say dumped – his ideas on the public. But he never said “enough” or gave up even when challenged by editors, fellow writers, or governments. This introduction to his life and work presents the many facets of Pound, who possessed a kind of binocular vision, able to look out to the horizon at the same time that he saw what was immediately in front of him. He knew that “language is made out of concrete things” but that a universal view was necessary. In one sense his program was simple – “if a man write six good lines he is immortal – isn’t that worth trying for?” – but in another it was complex as he sought to become “fra i maestri di color che sanno,” a phrase he expands as “master of those that cut apart, dissect and divide. Competent precursor of the card-index” (SL 49, 12; Guide to Kulchur 343).

Many have assisted with the “card indexes” of this project and I thank them, beginning with Ray Ryan, a patient, impatient, encouraging and, when necessary, an admonitory editor; Anne MacKenzie, support and guide, who knows the difference between clarity and confusion; Dara and Ryan, my children, who constantly encouraged me not only to “make it new,” but make it short. And finally, those myriad Poundians who have charted the waters before me so that I may safely navigate between the often foggy shores.

Note on the text

The Cambridge Introduction to Ezra Pound provides a systematic approach to understanding the life, context, work and reception of this major modernist. Following a survey of Pound’s life which took him from the American West to Philadelphia, Venice, London, Paris and Rapallo, and introduced him to figures like Yeats, Joyce and T. S. Eliot, is a section on “Context.” This explores how Pound’s efforts to “MAKE IT NEW” coincided with original work in music, art and literature occurring throughout Europe and North America, from 1909/10, – when Pound’s Personae, Stravinsky’s Firebird ballet and Henri Matisse’s The Dance all appeared – to 1969, when Pound published the final volume of The Cantos, Samuel Beckett won the Nobel Prize for Literature and Claes Oldenburg completed his pop-art sculpture, Lipstick (Ascending). The volume then traces the evolution of Pound’s writing from his earliest attempts to the last Cantos. Prose, as well as poetry and translations, comprise this section which also shows how his aesthetic principles and involvement with such movements as Imagism and Vorticism relate to his writing. Pound’s music and art criticism are also discussed. Attention to important individual texts like “Sestina Altaforte,” “Homage to Sextus Propertius” and Hugh Selwyn Mauberley precede a discussion of Pound’s life-time work, The Cantos. Broken down into units Pound himself designated – the “Malatesta Cantos,” the “Chinese Cantos,” the “Jefferson–Adam Cantos,” “The Pisan Cantos” – is an analysis of the multiple structure, themes and language of The Cantos.

Pound’s contested politics and economics are also addressed, noting the influences and detours they presented to his literary achievement. The controversial radio broadcasts he made between 1941 and 1943 from Fascist Italy are also discussed, as well as his search for heroes, which drew him to Confucius, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Mussolini. The critical reception of Pound and his wavering reputation conclude the book with an assessment of his contribution to, and redefinition of, modernism. A guide to further reading assists the student in pursuing the life and work of Pound. References to The Cantos, Pound’s major work, are to Canto number and page number in the thirteenth printing by New Directions in 1995. The citation for “MAKE IT NEW” appears as LⅢ/265.



Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading. [1934.] New York: New Directions, 1960.


W. B. Yeats, A Vision. New York: Macmillan, 1961.


Ezra Pound, Classic Anthology as Defined by Confucius. [1954.] London: Faber and Faber, 1974.


Confucius to Cummings, An Anthology of Poetry. Ed. Ezra Pound and Marcella Spann. New York: New Directions, 1964.


The Cambridge Companion to Ezra Pound. Ed. Ira B. Nadel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.


Ezra Pound, Collected Early Poems of Ezra Pound. Ed. Michael John King. New York: New Directions, 1976.


Ezra Pound, The Critical Heritage. Ed. Eric Homberger. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972.


H. D. [Hilda Doolittle], End to Torment, A Memoir of Ezra Pound. New York: New Directions, 1979.


Ezra Pound, Ezra Pound and Senator Bronson Cutting: A Political Correspondence 1930–1935. Ed. E. P. Walkiewicz and Hugh Witemeyer. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1995.


The Ezra Pound Encyclopedia. Ed. Demetres Tryphonopoulos and Stephen J. Adams. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005.


Ezra Pound, Early Writings, Poems and Prose. Ed. Ira. B. Nadel. New York: Penguin, 2005.


Ezra Pound, Ezra Pound and James Laughlin, Selected Letters. Ed. David M. Gordon. New York: W. W. Norton, 1994.


[T. S. Eliot], “Ezra Pound: His Metric and Poetry,” to Criticize the Critic and Other Writings. New York: Farrar Strauss Giroux, 1965. 162–82.


Ezra Pound, Poems and Translations. Ed. Richard Sieburth. New York: Library of America, 2003.


Ezra Pound. “Ezra Pound Speaking.” Radio Speeches of World War Ⅱ. Ed. Leonard W. Doob. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1978.


Ezra Pound and the Visual Arts. Ed. Harriet Zinnes. New York: New Directions, 1980.


Donald Gallup, Ezra Pound, A Bibliography. 2nd edn. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1983.


Ezra Pound, Gaudier-Brzeska, A Memoir. [1916.] New York: New Directions, 1970.


Ezra Pound, Guide to Kulchur. [1938.] New York: New Directions, 1970.


Ezra Pound, Indiscretions, in Pavannes & Divagations. [1958.] New York: New Directions, 1974. 3–51.


Ezra Pound, Jefferson and/or Mussolini. London: Stanley Nott, 1935.


Ezra and Dorothy Pound, Letters in Captivity, 1945–46. Ed. Omar Pound and Robert Spoo. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.


Ezra Pound, Literary Essays. Ed. T. S. Eliot. [1954.] New York: New Directions, 1968.


Ezra Pound, Machine Art & Other Writings, The Lost Thought of the Italian Years. Ed. Maria Luisa Ardizzone. Durham: Duke University Press, 1996.


William Carlos Williams, Paterson. New York: New Directions, 1958.


Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971.


Hugh Kenner, The Poetry of Ezra Pound. [1951]. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985.


Ezra Pound, Pound/Ford: The Story of a Literary Friendship. Ed. Brita Lindberg-Seyersted. New York: New Directions, 1982.


Ezra Pound, Letters to Ibbertson. Ed. V. I. Mondolfo and M. Hurley. Orono, MA: National Poetry Foundation, 1979.


Ezra Pound, Pound/Joyce, The Letters of Ezra Pound to James Joyce. Ed. Forrest Read. New York: New Directions, 1970.


Ezra Pound, Pound/Lewis. The Letters of Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis. Ed. Timothy Materer. New York: New Directions, 1985.


Ezra Pound, Patria Mia. Chicago: Ralph Fletcher Seymour, 1950.


Ezra Pound, The Translations of Ezra Pound. Intro. Hugh Kenner. London: Faber and Faber, 1984.


Ezra Pound, Pound/Zukofsky, Selected Letters. Ed. Barry Ahearn. New York: New Directions, 1987.


Timothy Redman, Ezra Pound and Italian Fascism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.


Donald Hall, Remembering Poets. New York: Harper & Row, 1978. Includes “E. P. An Interview,” originally in Paris Review 28 (1962): 22–51.


Ezra Pound, Social Credit: An Impact. [1935.] London: Peter J. Russell, 1951.


Humphrey Carpenter, A Serious Character, The Life of Ezra Pound. London: Faber and Faber, 1988.


Ezra Pound, Selected Letters 1907–1941. Ed. D. D. Paige. [1950.] New York: New Directions, 1971.


Ezra Pound, Selected Prose 1909–1965. Ed. William Cookson. London: Faber and Faber, 1973.


Ezra Pound, Selected Poetry. Ed. T. S. Eliot. London: Faber & Gwyer, 1928.


Ezra Pound, The Spirit of Romance. [1910.] New York: New Directions, 1968.


Noel Stock, Life of Ezra Pound. 2nd edn. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1982.

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