Ezra Pound's Fascist Propaganda, 1935-45: Books

By Bosworth, Richard | The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE, December 12, 2013 | Go to article overview

Ezra Pound's Fascist Propaganda, 1935-45: Books


Bosworth, Richard, The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE


Ezra Pound's Fascist Propaganda, 1935-45 By Matthew Feldman Palgrave Macmillan, 184pp, Pounds 45.00 ISBN 9781137345509 Published 4 September 2013

It is high time to start taking Ezra Pound's fascism seriously," asserts Matthew Feldman in a book based on a wide range of archival and published English-language, but no Italian, sources. In pursuit of this argument, he has a double target. First are those determined to place Pound high in the canon of Modernism while dismissing his politics as eccentricity. For them, Pound's hatreds may have been shrill and even detestable: "That is what the jew is THERE to produce, war and more war between goyim/UNTIL ... all the goyim simultaneously wake up to the cause of the trouble and determine to wipe out the root cause of war, namely YIDDERY" (26 January 1945). But, they have maintained, such views should not distract from our reading of his poetry, a contention that Feldman, at least in regard to the poet's pronounced, prolonged and fundamentalist anti-Semitism, strenuously and effectively refutes.

However, diatribes against the Jews do not constitute the last word of Pound's political effusions. Feldman almost takes the anti-Semitism as read as he focuses on the poet as a long-term resident in Fascist Italy, an admiring fan of Benito Mussolini and, during the Second World War, a regular broadcaster on the dictatorship's Radio Rome. Pound, Feldman states in his preface, was "a committed and significant English-language strategist and producer of fascist propaganda between, and during, the 'total wars' in Europe". He was, therefore, a deep believer in the "political religion" of fascism (the small "f" signifies an ideology that spread beyond Il Duce's regime), a stance that was reinforced by the fact that Mussolini was pioneering a genuine path to Modernism.

At his most active, that is, during Italy's war, Pound may have been a radical (although one who possessed some personal obsessions; few Italian Fascists shared his limitless enthusiasm for the works of Confucius or Vivaldi). Even before 1940, Pound may have "gravitated towards the biological anti-Semitism and militaristic expansionism of Nazi Germany". Yet, Feldman urges, Pound's paymasters in Rome and, after September 1943, in the Salo Republic, saw him as one of them, an intellectual worker for the revolutionary Nazi-Fascist New World Order. …

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