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Ezra Pound

Pound (1885-1972) is one of the most colourful and controverisal figures in modern literature. Born in Idaho, USA, he studied at Hamilton College at the State University of Pennsylvania before making his way to Europe. In 1908 he published his first book of poems “A Lume Spento”, in Venice. And he went to England in the same year. Until 1920 Pound lived in London, actively involved not only in writing his own verse and prose, but also editing, criticizing, publishing, and encouraging the work of others in the literary and artistic avant-garde of the time. “Make it new” was Pound's slogan, and perhaps he, more than any other single man, was responsible for the emergence of an authentically modernist literature in England at this time.
From his association with T. E. Hulme and others around 1910, and their interest in Japanese poetry, came the poetic style known as Imaginism. In 1912-1913 Pound acted as a kind of secretary to W. B Yeats. Joyce owed a great ideal to Pound for moral and financial support. But Pound's most important literary friendship was with Eliot, whom he met in 1915. Pound immediately perceived Eliot's great gift and worked tirelessly to get them generally recognized. As is well to known, he significantly contributed to the form of “The Waste Land” (1922) by recommending drastic cuts in Eliot's original version. During this period Pound was also writing publishing poetry of his own, much of it translation or imitation of poetry in various languages --Chinese, Provencal, Anglo-Saxon and several others- in which Pound was not always competent by any normal linguistic criteria. Probably his most successful volume of this period was Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920). In the following year, Pound moved to Paris; and in 1925he settled the Italian resort of Rapallo.

Italy was at this time in the early stages of Mussolini's fascist regime, then achievements of which Pound greatly admired. He was not the only literary figure of his time to be dazzled by right-wing political movements, but he failed to see the evil in fascism even after the outbreak of the Second World War. During the war he made radio broadcasts which were considered sufficiently treasonable by the American authorities to warrant his arrest at the end of the war. He was however considered mentally unfit to stand trial; after a long confinement in American mental hospitals, he was finally allowed to live in Italy, where he died. From 1921, he had been writing and publishing parts of a huge, encyclopaedic poem known as Cantos.

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