Pound, Ezra Loomis

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Pound, Ezra Loomis,

1885–1972, American poet, critic, and translator, b. Hailey, Idaho, grad. Hamilton College, 1905, M.A. Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1906. An extremely important influence in the shaping of 20th-century poetry, he was one of the most famous and controversial literary figures of the century—praised as a subtle and complex modern poet, dismissed as a naive egotist and pedant, condemned as a traitor and reactionary.

In 1907, Pound left the United States to travel in Europe, eventually settling in England. There he published a series of small books of poetry—including Personae (1909), Exultations (1909), Canzoni (1911), and Ripostes (1912)—which attracted attention for their originality and erudition. In England he came to dominate the avant-garde movements of the time—first leading the imagistsimagists,
group of English and American poets writing from 1909 to about 1917, who were united by their revolt against the exuberant imagery and diffuse sentimentality of 19th-century poetry.
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 and later championing vorticismvorticism
, short-lived 20th-century art movement related to futurism. Its members sought to simplify forms into machinelike angularity. Its principal exponent was a French sculptor, Gaudier-Brzeska.
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. Both these movements sought to free post-Victorian verse from its staleness and conventionality. Pound encouraged many young writers, notably T. S. EliotEliot, T. S.
(Thomas Stearns Eliot), 1888–1965, American-British poet and critic, b. St. Louis, Mo. One of the most distinguished literary figures of the 20th cent., T. S. Eliot won the 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature. He studied at Harvard, the Sorbonne, and Oxford.
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 and James JoyceJoyce, James,
1882–1941, Irish novelist. Perhaps the most influential and significant novelist of the 20th cent., Joyce was a master of the English language, exploiting all of its resources.
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. In the early 1920s he moved to Paris, where he became associated with Gertrude SteinStein, Gertrude,
1874–1946, American author and patron of the arts, b. Allegheny (now part of Pittsburgh), Pa. A celebrated personality, she encouraged, aided, and influenced—through her patronage as well as through her writing—many literary and artistic
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 and Ernest HemingwayHemingway, Ernest,
1899–1961, American novelist and short-story writer, b. Oak Park, Ill. one of the great American writers of the 20th cent. Life

The son of a country doctor, Hemingway worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Star
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By 1925 Pound was settled in Italy, where his literary ideas started to take a political and economic turn. Discouraged by the faults and failings of English and American democracy, he began to develop many of the theories that were to make him unpopular in Great Britain and the United States. During World War II he broadcast Fascist and anti-Semitic propaganda to the United States for the Italians and was indicted for treason. He was brought to the United States for trial and from 1946 to 1958 was confined to a hospital in Washington after being ruled mentally unfit to answer the charges. On his release he returned to Italy, where he remained until his death at the age of 87.

Pound's major works are Homage to Sextus Propertius (1918), Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920), and the Cantos (1925–60), a brilliant, though sometimes obscure, epic work. Weaving together such diversified threads as myth and legend (particularly the story of Odysseus), Chinese poetry, troubadour ballads, political and economic theory, and modern jargon, the Cantos attempt to reconstruct the history of civilization. Pound's translations, noted more for tone and feeling than for scholarly accuracy, include the Anglo-Saxon "Seafarer," poems from the Chinese, the Confucian books, Japanese No drama, Egyptian love poetry, and Sophocles' Women of Trachis.


See Ezra Pound: Poems and Translations (2003), ed. by R. Sieburth; his collected early poems, ed. by M. King et al. (1982); The Cantos of Ezra Pound (1972, rev. ed. 1996); his music criticism, ed. by R. M. Schaefer (1977); his letters to James Joyce, ed. by F. Read (1968); the memoirs of his daughter, Mary de Rachewiltz (1971); biographies by N. Stock (1970, rev. ed. 1982), H. Carpenter (1988), and A. D. Moody (3 vol., 2007–2015); A. Conover, Olga Rudge and Ezra Pound (2002); H. Kenner, The Pound Era (1971); studies by M. L. Rosenthal (1978), M. Alexander (1979), S. Schwartz (1985), G. Kearns (1989), A. Gibson, ed. (1993), M. Coyle (1995), T. F. Grieve (1997), W. Pratt, ed. (2002), and D. Swift (2017); bibliography by D. Gallup (1983).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pound, Ezra Loomis


Born Oct. 30, 1885, in Hailey, Idaho; died Nov. 1, 1972, in Venice. American poet, historian, and art theorist.

Pound attended the University of Pennsylvania. In 1908 he left for Europe, settling in Italy in 1924. He studied the medieval poetry of the Romance countries and brought it to public attention. Through Pound’s adaptations, the English-language reader first became acquainted with the poetry of China and Japan. During World War II (1939-45), Pound broadcast from Italy to Allied troops over Fascist radio. Indicted for high treason in the USA in 1945, he was later confined for life in a mental hospital. He returned to Italy after his release in 1958.

Pound made his debut as a poet in 1909, with the collection A Lume Spento. He was a theorist of imagism. Pound’s anarchist bent was evident as early as the 1910’s in the collections Ripostes (1912), Personae (1909), and Cathay (1915). His leanings later prodded him into an alliance with rightist opposition forces, as can be seen in the narrative poem Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920). Pound broadened the thematic range of English-language poetry and enriched its store of artistic devices. The extreme formal complexity of Pound’s magnum opus, the unfinished Cantos (1917–68), is typical of modernist poetry, which undermines all ties with the reader. In terms of creativity, the last three decades of Pound’s life were barren.


Selected Poems. London, 1964.
Literary Essays. London, 1960.


Zasurskii, la. N. Amerikanskaia literatura XX v. Moscow, 1966. Pages 164–69.
Ezra Pound Perspectives: Essays in Honor of His Eightieth Birthday. Chicago, 1965.
Kenner, H. The Poetry of Ezra Pound. Norfolk, Conn.-New York, 1968.
New Approaches to Ezra Pound. London [1969].
Stock, N. The Life of Ezra Pound. New York [1970].
Ezra Pound: The Critical Heritage. London-Boston [1972].
Gallup, D. C. A Bibliography of E. Pound. London, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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