Ezra Pound to His Parents: Letters 1895–1929 by Mary de Rachewiltz, A David Moody and Joanna Moody - review by Kevin Jackson

Kevin Jackson

In For A Penny

Ezra Pound to His Parents: Letters 1895–1929

By

Oxford University Press 752pp £35 order from our bookshop
 

If your idea of a poet is, say, John Keats, and your idea of a poet’s letters something like Keats’s magnificent digressions on Shakespeare and the life of allegory, or on the power of negative capability, then this admirably edited slab of letters from Ezra Pound to his parents may disappoint. Their content is seldom reflective; their style is usually hasty, staccato, knockabout and – increasingly with the years – peppered with a slangy, instantly recognisable style compounded of novel spellings, weak puns, impatient abbreviations and scraps of folk dialect. For example: ‘Dear Dad: Snappy thanksgiving. I spose the enc. is worth about one hindfoot of a murkn Turkey at present rates. Get a new necktie fer yerself and half pound of Ackers for mother and save a lot of international banking.’

Well, it’s certainly not pompous. Pound had many vices, but starchiness was never one of them. Over the course of 752 pages, though, this Ole Uncle Ez routine can become a shade wearisome, especially since the key details of Pound’s colourful life are often swamped with trivia: requests

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