Tuesday, April 19, 2011


On April 18 in 1775, the American Revolution, a.k.a. the War of Independence, begins when the British advancement by sea begins, as Paul Revere and other riders warn the countryside of Redcoat troop movements. In 1783 -- eight years later to the day! -- the final few flare-ups of combat come to an end, signaling the final chapter in the American Revolution.

On this day in 1958, a United States federal court rules that American poet Ezra Pound should be released from St. Elizabeths Psychiatric Hospital, the asylum where he'd been held since the end of World War II for making pro-Fascist broadcasts on behalf of Mussolini, among other insults to The Powers That Be. Prior to the First World War and for a short while after it, Pound had been one of the most -- if not the single most -- influential Western intellectual in the Modern tradition. He helped usher in the carreers of everybody from T.S. Eliot and James Joyce to Robert Frost and Ernest Hemingway. Blaming the meatgrinder slaughter of World War I on international capitalism and usury, he devoted his life to seeking out a more equitable monetary system and finding an alternative, more mystical view of life. He thought he'd found the latter in Fascist Italy. He was wrong, with tragic results.

Relating to the above post: Earlier this month, I wrote that I was willing to give Ayn Rand's novels a chance because simply being an awful person doesn't mean one will produce awful literature. In Rand's case, unfortunately, the literature really is almost as awful as the human being who produced it. Pound, on the other hand, is one of those glorious exceptions... a vile man who was capable of producing transcendent, glorious writing. As Hemingway said of his works: "The best of Pound's writing -- and it is in the Cantos -- will last as long as there is any literature."

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