Ezra and Dorothy Pound: Letters in Captivity, 1945-1946

Synopsis

These fascinating letters capture the most traumatic experience of Ezra Pound's life, when he was incarcerated at the end of World War II and indicted for treason. Omar Pound and Robert Spoo have collected and edited the unpublished correspondence between the poet and his wife, combining it with military and FBI documents, previously unknown photographs, and an extensive, insightful introduction, to create the definitive work on this period of Pound's life. During his incarceration in a U.S. Army detention camp outside Pisa, Pound was allowed to write only to his wife, so these letters afford a unique look at a painful yet highly productive period, when Pound wrote his acclaimed Pisan Cantos and worked on his translations of Confucius. Readers will discover many fresh insights into the sources and contexts of the Cantos and the circumstances of their composition. Here, too, are many moving passages testifying to Pound's partnership with Dorothy and her courageous efforts to help him; her experiences no less than his come to life in this volume. But perhaps the most moving are the harsh conditions Pound found himself in: at one point, in the Pisan camp, he was confined for three weeks in an open air cage, until the sixty year old poet suffered a breakdown and was moved to a tent in the medical compound. The editors connect the anxious lyricism of the Pisan Cantos to these dramatic experiences, as the poet alternated "between savage indignation and suave serenity." The book also covers Pound's return to the United States and his confinement in a federal mental institution there. With more than 150 previously unpublished letters and documents, all authoritatively annotated, Ezra and Dorothy Pound: Letters in Captivity, 1945 1946, offers a rare glimpse into the life and work of one of our century's greatest literary figures.