Ezra Pound and James Laughlin Selected Letters: Selected Letters

Ezra Pound, Author, David M. Gordon, Editor, James Laughlin, With
Ezra Pound, Author, David M. Gordon, Editor, James Laughlin, With W. W. Norton & Company $45 (313p) ISBN 978-0-393-03540-7
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One detects a note of flattery early in this collection as then-Harvard sophomore Laughlin makes his initial approach to the 48-year-old American poet Pound (1885-1972), self-exiled in Rapallo, Italy, during the summer of 1933. Soon, however, Pound seems more the supplicant, as Laughlin's growing capacity as literary man-of-affairs comes to impress the poet. And Laughlin, for his part, discovers that the political crank cannot easily be sundered from the genius in Pound. ``And re / a shystem that gives 150 grand to Hem and now to cummings / not that Hem GETS all that/about 100 gd / will go in cuts to agents, adapters etc. Waaal as to my recoming to U.S. what do I DO when I get there / go on board of Chase Bank or teach tennis in Noo Putt? or clenn latrines in the MacLeishery?'' This riff from 1941 is typical of Pound's allusive, punning and ultimately revealing style throughout his 25 years' correspondence with the founder of New Directions; its affinity with that of his Cantos, written in the same period, is striking. Gordon, editor of the literary journal Paideuma , presents 355 letters, mostly from Pound and almost all as excerpts, from an archive of 2742. Few actually touch on ``licherchoor'' as an art, perhaps because ``DAMBIT I cant write yu 600 pages of answers.'' Gossip about literary reputations is much more rife. But the selection renders an intimate view of Pound's psychological relationship with language and the world. (Mar.)
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