Ezra Pound

Franklin Library Ezra Pound books

Personae - 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature - 1981
Personae: A Draft of XXX Cantos - 20th Century's Greatest Books - 1980

Ezra Pound biography

Ezra Weston Loomis Pound, born on October 30, 1885, in Hailey, Idaho, was a towering figure in 20th-century literature, known for his innovative poetry, literary criticism, and controversial political views. Pound's early years were marked by a precocious intellect and a voracious appetite for literature. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he distinguished himself as both a student and a budding poet, eventually earning a master's degree in Romance languages. Inspired by the works of poets such as T.S. Eliot and W.B. Yeats, Pound embarked on a literary journey that would revolutionize modern poetry. In 1908, Pound relocated to London, where he immersed himself in the vibrant literary and artistic scene of the early 20th century. It was during this time that he befriended and championed numerous writers, including Yeats, Robert Frost, and James Joyce, becoming a central figure in the emerging modernist movement.

Pound's own poetry underwent a radical transformation, marked by experimentation with form, language, and imagery. His seminal work, The Cantos, a sprawling epic poem that defies conventional categorization, remains one of the most ambitious and controversial literary projects of the 20th century. Drawing on a vast array of historical, cultural, and literary references, The Cantos reflects Pound's belief in the power of poetry to capture the essence of human experience and history. Beyond his contributions to poetry, Pound was a prolific critic and editor, advocating for the importance of clarity, precision, and economy of language in literature. His essays and literary manifestos, collected in works such as ABC of Reading and Literary Essays, exerted a profound influence on generations of writers and critics.

However, Pound's legacy is marred by his controversial political activities. During the 1930s, he became an outspoken supporter of Benito Mussolini's fascist regime in Italy, espousing anti-Semitic and pro-fascist views that would later tarnish his reputation and lead to his arrest for treason following World War II. Pound spent several years in St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., after being deemed unfit to stand trial due to mental illness. Despite his political and personal turmoil, Pound's literary genius remained undiminished, and he continued to write and correspond prolifically during his confinement. In his later years, Pound retreated from public life, residing in Italy until his death on November 1, 1972. Despite the controversies that surrounded him, Pound's contributions to literature continue to be celebrated and studied, cementing his status as one of the most influential poets and literary figures of the 20th century.

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