Fascist Directive: Ezra Pound and Italian Cultural Nationalism

BookFascist Directive: Ezra Pound and Italian Cultural Nationalism

Fascist Directive: Ezra Pound and Italian Cultural Nationalism

Clemson University Press: The Ezra Pound Center for Literature Book Series, 1


June 21st, 2016



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In 1938, American poet Ezra Pound published Guide to Kulchur, a book so radically different from his earlier writing that readers might not have believed that it was written by the same firebrand aesthetician who had advocated in 1913 that poets go in fear of abstractions. But Guide to Kulchur was only the latest example of a new kind of prose that Pound had been writing—fiercely invested in politics and the mobilization of cultural heritage to its service. Pound’s new modernism came as a direct effect of his investment in fascism. Since the last monographic treatment of Pound’s fascism, scholars of literature, history, art history, urban design, and music have uncovered important aspects of the fascist regime’s use of culture to foment Italian national identity. These studies reveal the cultural, mythical, rhetorical, and intellectual aspects of that regime—more than enough new knowledge to require a reappraisal of perhaps the most famous, certainly the most notorious, American in Italy in that era, and perhaps the entire twentieth century. Unlike previous discussions of Pound’s adoption of Italian fascism, which focus mostly on his political and economic interests, this book reveals the importance of the cultural projects of Mussolini’s fascist regime. By bringing Italian primary sources and new approaches to the cultural project of Mussolini’s regime to bear on Pound’s prose work (including unpublished material from the Pound Papers and untranslated periodical contributions), Paul shows how Pound’s modernism changed as a result of involvement in Italian politics and culture. At the same time, it uses the familiar figure of Pound to provide an entry for scholars of Anglo-American modernism into the diverse and complex realm of Italian modernism.
A Winner of the 2016 Ezra Pound Society Book Award.

‘A knowledgeable, wide-ranging, and well-developed study… especially for Pound Studies, but with an interdisciplinary value far beyond it.’
Dr Matthew Feldman, Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR)


Author Information

Catherine E. Paul is Professor Emerita of English at Clemson University.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Abbreviations7
List of Figures9
1. Italian Cultural Nationalism35
2. Renaissance Revisited: Pound’s Foray into Italian Cultural Nationalism63
3. The Bundle and the Pickax: Fascist Cultural Projects99
4. Ezra Pound and/or the Fascist Gerarchia157
5. The Fascist Cultural Nationalism of the Vivaldi Revival175
6. Italian Fascist Exhibitions and Pound’s Fascist Directive215
7. Propaganda Art: Can a Poet be a Traitor?253
Appendix: Vivaldi scores in Pound’s hand285
Select Bibliography293