"After Ez stirred up that hornets['] nest": Ezra Pound's politics of "open" poetry

dc.contributor.advisorTryphonopoulos, Demetres
dc.contributor.authorEhtee, Svetlana
dc.description.abstractEzra Pound was a literary activist who devoted his life to educating those willing to be initiated to radically new, “open” modernist writing. He was also a poet of megalomaniacal ideas, who believed that he could change the world by teaching his readers. Seeking a solution for contemporary socio-political issues, Pound turned to equating usury with Jewish people, blaming them for the world’s ills. These beliefs resulted in the poet’s endorsement of Mussolini’s and Hitler’s causes. The aim of this dissertation is to investigate how Pound’s mission to educate readers became an effort to indoctrinate them by exposing them to his fascist, racist, and anti-Semitic views. I will demonstrate how The Cantos, which Pound sets up to be aesthetically and semantically “open,” evolves into a “closed” manifesto, that mirrors Pound’s political agenda. In what follows, I begin in Chapter One by developing this argument through the analysis of biographies devoted to the poet. Highlighting the works which exculpated or elided Pound’s extreme right-wing politics and efforts, this chapter will trace the apologetic stream of Pound’s biographers. Chapter Two will cross-examine his published correspondence with Olivia Rosetti Agresti (1937–59), and his unpublished exchange with Graham Seton Hutchison (1934–36) to determine whether Pound censored himself in print to hide the extent of his biases and pro-Nazi leanings. The subsequent analysis of Pound’s unpublished correspondence with Archibald MacLeish (1926–58) follows in Chapter Three, continuing the discussion of Pound’s support for Mussolini, even after the dictator’s confinement in the Nazi-backed Salò Republic (1943–45). Chapter Four will focus on the poet’s unpublished correspondence, in the 1950s, with John Kasper who, under Pound’s guidance, fought against de-segregation in the United States. Finally, in Chapter Five I will draw chronological connections between selections from The Cantos and Pound’s correspondences to show the effects of Pound’s socio-political beliefs on his epic. I will cross-examine my findings with selections from “The First Thirty Cantos” (I–XXX), “The Fifth Decad” (XLII–LI), the “Italian Cantos” (LXXII–LXXIII), and the “Pisan Cantos” (LXXIV–LXXXIV) to argue that Pound’s anti-Semitic, fascist, and racist views inform the text of the poem, and ultimately cause its structural “closure.”
dc.description.copyright© Svetlana Ehtee, 2020
dc.format.extentix, 308
dc.publisherUniversity of New Brunswick
dc.relationUniversity of New Brunswick
dc.title"After Ez stirred up that hornets['] nest": Ezra Pound's politics of "open" poetry
dc.typedoctoral thesis
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of New Brunswick


Original bundle
Now showing 1 - 1 of 1
Thumbnail Image
Svetlana Ehtee dissertation.pdf
1.52 MB
Adobe Portable Document Format
License bundle
Now showing 1 - 1 of 1
No Thumbnail Available
1.13 KB
Item-specific license agreed upon to submission