Ezra Pound–New Acquisitions

November 7, 2012

New additions enrich Beinecke’s Pound collection

Recent acquisitions of Ezra Pound letters and manuscripts present new research opportunities in the Beinecke Library’s collection on Modernist literature. Fearless researchers will appreciate Pound’s letters, dense with obscure abbreviations, literary references, and political opinions. The language of his correspondence reflects his erratic, irreverent, and idiosyncratic character. Beinecke acquires manuscripts relating to all aspects of Pound’s life, though recent acquisitions focus on his time at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. (1945-1958). Tried for treason in 1945 on charges stemming from his broadcasts on Italian radio during the Second World War, Pound was committed to psychiatric care in lieu of prison. Recent acquisitions document his activity during this 12-year confinement, during which he maintained a prolific correspondence. Pound’s lawyer Robert Furniss advocated for the release of America’s “greatest living poet” who was “mentally incapable of defending himself.” The documents and ephemera in the Furniss collection detail the public controversy surrounding Pound’s incarceration. Correspondence between Furniss and Pound document their legal strategy as Furniss defended “Mental Health No. 31113” (as Pound was identified by the court) from charges of treason. Reading Pound’s correspondence, researchers can delve in to his relationships with, and influence on, younger poets. Such is the case with Pound’s letters to poet, composer, and performance artist Jackson Mac Low. In addition to discussing literature and politics, Pound defends himself from charges of anti-Semitism with the inflammatory remark that “some kike might manage to pin an antisem lable on me IF he neglected the mass of my writing.” These new additions complement Beinecke’s vast collection of material relating to Pound and to other figures of the Modernist literary milieu. Beinecke continuously adds to its exciting Modernist collection, which consists not only of the vast and comprehensive literary archives of Pound, H.D., Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, and Mina Loy, but also numerous small collections and individual letters, manuscripts, photographs, works of art, and books. The recent Pound acquisitions include: Letters to Rene Taupin, 1928-1932 Letters to Paul-Gustave Van Hecke, 1930 Letters to David Sinclair Nixon, 1937 Letters to Jackson Mac Low, 1946-1955 Letters to Robert Thom, 1949 Letters to Allan Seaton, 1949-1953 Robert Furniss collection of Ezra Pound Papers, 1946-1959 These uncataloged collections are available for research. Researchers may contact the Beinecke Library Reference Staff for further information. Related collections at the Beinecke include: Ezra Pound Papers (YCAL MSS 43, YCAL MSS 53) Ezra Pound Miscellany (YCAL MSS 182) Olga Rudge Papers (YCAL MSS 54, YCAL MSS 241) The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is open for research year-round and visitors can plan their research or read about fellowship opportunities online. (LC) Image: Photograph of Ezra Pound at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, [1954], Olga Rudge Papers (YCAL MSS 54).

Beinecke Top Tens gather (approximately) ten related items to give an at-a-glance look at some of the Library’s interesting, important, strange, compelling, beautiful holdings. To see more lists, click here: Beinecke Top Tens. To suggest a list subject, contact us: Top Ten Ideas.