Issue 163, Fall 2002
Ezra Pound was the only important writer who helped young Ernest Hemingway without incurring retaliatory punishment. The standard explanation 1s that Hemingway did not have to worry about his debts to Pound after Pound became "certifiably net-able"; but this rationalization is unsatisfactory because their friendship, and Hemingway's declared admiration for Pound's poetry, were maintained throughout the Twenties and Thirties-before Pound's proFascist broadcasts during the Second World War. A better explanation is that Pound escaped the fate of Hemingway's other literary benefactors because he never claimed credit for Hemingway's success and did not represent competition.
Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein were Ernest Hemingway's Harvard and Yale. His futon.al with Prof Stein turned nasty, and it is impossible to determine the extent of Prof Pound's instruction. There is no evidence that he edited Hemingway's work, as he did The Waste Land. In 1951 Hemingway in97 formed Charles Fenton that "Ezra never saw more than half of a dozen things I wrote, if that. "Pound's chief benefactions to his pupil were in initiating him into the traditions of literature and providing contacts. It is astonishing how much, how fast the uneducated graduate of Oak Park High learned in Paris.
Hemingway arrived in Paris in December 1921 with a letter of introduction to Pound provided by Sherwood Anderson,б they probably met in March 1922. Hemingway was initially put off by Pound's bohemian behavior and wrote a satircal piece about Pound that he was persuaded to destroy. Hemingway's ridicule soon turned to admiration and affection. There are no surviving letters between them before 1923. During their first year of epistolary friendship they exchanged eighteen letters.1 That year the Hemingways went to Canada for the birth of their son and returned to Pan's after he quit the Toronto Star to become a full-time writer. It was the year Poetry, for which Pound was European talent scout, published six of Hemingway's poems. It was the year Three Mountains Press in Pan's accepted Hemingway's in our time for "The Inquest into the state of contemporary English prose as edited by Ezra Pound.... " It was the year Hemingway's first separate publication, Three Stories & Ten Poems, was produced in Paris by the Contact Press, with which Pound was connected. After Pound transferred to Italy in 1924, they had one or two reunions; but Hemingway had graduated from Ezraversity by then.
Hemingway saluted Pound in writing, early and late. "Homage to Ezra," ht's most notable assessment, was published in the 1925 This Quarter:
So then, so far, we have Pound the major poet devoting, say, one fifth of his time to poetry. With the rest of his time he tries to advance the fortunes, both material and artistic, of his friends. He defends them when they are attacked, he gets them into magazines and out of jail. He loans them money. He sells their pictures. He arranges concerts for them. He writes articles about them. He introduces them to wealthy women. He gets publishers to take their books. He sits up all night with them when they claim to be dying and he witnesses their wills. He advances them hospital expenses and dissuades them from suicide. And in the end a few of them refrain from knifing him at the first opportunity.
During the rest of their lives they exchanged at least 130 additional letters. Ernest Hemingway participated in securing Ezra Pound's release from St. Elizabeth's Hospital and the non-prosecution of treason charges against him.
—Matthew J. Bruccoli
Chammy Sur Montreaux
We have the intention of joining you.1 How is it? What do you pay? What is the hotel? Can I, like Northcliffe2 on the Rhine, preserve my incognito among your fascist pals? or are they liable to give Hadley castor oil?3 Mussolini told me at Lausanne, you know, that I couldn't ever live in Italy again. How the hell are you any way? e sua moglia? How long are you going to stay? Answer any of these that seem important.
I suppose you heard about the loss of my Juvenilia?4 I went up to Paris last week to see what was left and found that Hadley had made the job complete by including all carbons, duplicates etc. All that remains of my complete works are three pencil drafts of a bum poem which was later scrapped, some correspondence between John McClure' and me, and some journalistic carbons.