This is the final volume of David Moody’s massive biography of Ezra Pound. According to Moody, the great American poet, whose broadcasts for Rome Radio during the Second World War led to his indictment for treason and his imprisonment for thirteen years, was a ‘flawed idealist’. Moody acknowledges ‘his moral offense, the anti-Semitism of which he was guilty’. But his case became a travesty of psychiatry and justice as those to whom he entrusted his defence betrayed him.
Moody begins with the war years. There is some new material, though many of Pound’s activities during this period are familiar from other work (which Moody acknowledges). He portrays Pound’s arrest vividly. The second part of the book is devoted solely to 1945, during which Pound was interrogated by the FBI in Genoa and imprisoned under harsh conditions at the US Army Disciplinary Training Center (DTC) near Pisa. It was here that he began his greatest work, The Pisan Cantos, of which Moody offers an elegant and lucid explication.
They begin with the image of the ‘enormous tragedy of the dream in the peasant’s bent shoulders’. Moody disagrees with Ronald Bush’s influential interpretation that ‘the late insertion into the DTC drafts of the opening eleven lines transformed the entire sequence into an angry requiem for Italian Fascism’. ‘Angry requiem’