Ezra Pound was an American poet and writer who brought many poetic classics to American literature. His most famous works included the 800-page epic poem The Cantos, Ripostes (1912), and Hugh Selwyn Mauberly (1920). Pound’s writing style was recognized for being a lead in modernist writing within the 20th century, and his poems were praised for their harmonious use of words and lyrics.
Despite this, Pound remains a controversial figure in literary history. As much as he was a great writer, Ezra Pound was also an abhorrent fascist, who participated in anti-Semitic propaganda, collaborated with Fascist leaders throughout World War II, and condemned the United States for fighting against fascism in the War.
Who Was Ezra Pound?
Born in 1885, Pound was born in a small Idaho town and grew up in the eastern states close to Philadelphia, in a traditional middle-class family. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania and Hamilton College where he received his bachelor’s in Philosophy, and later his M.A.. As a professor in his 20s, Pound was known to have behavior reflecting his Presbysterian childhood, but when his manuscript for a collection of poems became rejected by American publishers, Pound spent his studies and work overseas throughout Europe.
In his many travels, Pound began to publish his poetry, articles, and essays that established him as a talented writer. From there, he settled in London and created his reputation as part of the literary elite for contemporary writing and humanities. Pound was skilled with various languages such as Latin, Greek, German, Italian, and Spanish, and had skills in English literature and grammar.
Collaborating with Fascist Leaders?
During his time abroad, Pound was notable for his many private meetings and relations with fascist figures. For example, Pound wrote many essays regarding economic theories, many of which were under the publication of Sir Oswald Mosley, a famous fascist in Britain.
He arranged private meetings with Benito Mussolini. For those who haven’t taken a history class in a while, Mussolini was a notable fascist ruler of Italy that was a part of Axis and Adolf Hitler’s anti-Jewish propoganda during World War II. In fact, Pound’s meetings with Mussolini led to his eventual collaboration with Adolf Hitler himself, who he supported in values through a letter-writing campaign. Throughout the course of the war, Pound broadcasted on the radio his admiration of the Italian government and German leaders– essentially adding onto a barrage of fascist, antisemitic propaganda.
In addition, Pound expressed his distaste of the American government’s opposition to fascism, hinting his desire for former president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s assassination. Yikes!
Boy oh boy, where can we even begin with Pound’s raging anti-Semitism?! To start, Pound’s hatred for the Jewish can be historically traced to 1910, when Pound wrote about his personal detest of them. Pound discriminated and expressed his antisemitism when he knew there were Jewish people at his poetry readings, yet also denied being an antisemite. In World War I, he pinpointed Jewish bankers and usury as having primary fault.
In addition to his anti-Jewish sentiments, Pound made sure to contribute as much to the fascist and antisemitic violence and attitudes of his fascist buddies in his time abroad during World War II. Using the Rome Radio, Pound made several hundred broadcasts expressing his condemning of Americans and Allies’ war efforts, as well as insisting American Jewish bankers controlled the entirety of the country’s money.
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