Cover image for The correspondence of Ezra Pound and Senator William Borah
The correspondence of Ezra Pound and Senator William Borah
Pound, Ezra, 1885-1972.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Correspondence. Selections
Publication Information:
Urbana : University of Illinois Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xxv, 95 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3531.O82 Z4817 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Already one of the most famous of American poets, Ezra Pound (1885-1972) was an expatriate living in Rapallo, Italy, by the time he began his six-year correspondence with Idaho senator William Borah (1865-1940). These thirty-one previously unpublished letters document Pound's efforts to educate, for the role of the presidency, the one Republican statesman he believed could beat Roosevelt if nominated by his party.

Pound worked feverishly to recruit Borah as an advocate of the radical economic theories he believed would solve his homeland's problems. On the one hand, his letters depict an advisor confident of possessing the necessary savvy to beat FDR and successfully end the Depression while also keeping the United States out of a looming European war. On the other hand, Pound emerges as a man in turmoil, frantic to influence from his distant post the course of American politics by convincing those in power of the theories he espoused.

Borah, then chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, responded politely to Pound's diatribes and met with him briefly when Pound returned to the States in 1939. The correspondence, though mainly one-sided, reflects how strongly each man adhered to his personal convictions, Pound in favor of and Borah increasingly opposed to fascism.

This volume is enhanced by Sarah C. Holmes's generous annotations on the individuals, organizations, legislative bills, and theories Pound mentions -- often cryptically -- in his letters.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Pound's daughter wanted these letters published to provide a better view of her father's antiwar activities. In these letters the poet tried to educate the independent Borah in economics generally and social credit specifically to prepare him to run against FDR in 1936. The letters are less quirky than most, and the tone is bluntly didactic. This Pound is nonliterary; he is the political activist who met with Mussolini and Henry Wallace, and who wrote to Senators Cutting and Tinkham, always trying to rectify current economics and to avert WW II. When Pound returned to the US, trying to forestall a war, Borah gave him 20 minutes and reacted dismissively. One of Borah's clerks suggests that the senator's very few responses to Pound's letters may have been written by staff and signed unread by Borah. The appendix includes a letter from Homer Pound, Ezra's father, to Borah supporting Borah's "candidacy." An odd book, this collection of 31 Pound letters is essential for all Pound collections, where it will reside on the Pound "prose shelf," but all but useless for students and scholars of modernism generally or the poetry of modernism. J. N. Igo Jr. emeritus, San Antonio College