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Letters & Essays: P-R

Letters & Essays of the Day

Postwar Paris: Chronicles of Literary Life

By Alice Adams

Two of the most distinguished American literary artists of their generation—their names as frequently invoked by critics and historians as they are seldom linked—appear here in a conversation that is mostly about being in Pans after the Second World War. The occasion giving rise to this conversation was a late September, 1996, University of Pennsylvania weekend observation of my retirement from the English faculty there. When friends Norman Malier and Richard Wilbur accepted invitations to attend, I suggested talking about this experience that both had often said was personally important, that neither had ever overtly visited in his works, and that happened to have a particular relevance to the Penn audience in that season.

A Prison-Letter, An Autobiographical Outline

By Ezra Pound

Entered U.P. Penn at 15 with intention of studying comparative values in literature (poetry) and began doing so unbeknown to the faculty. 1902 enrolled as special student to avoid irrelevant subjects. 1903—5 continued process at Hamilton College under W.P. Shepard, “Schnitz” Brandt and J.D. Ibbotson. 1905—7 P.G. at U. of Penn. Chiefly impressed by lack of correlation between different depts, and lack either of general survey of literature or any coherent interest in literature as such (as distinct for example from philology). 

Canto 72, Confession

By Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound was obsessed with language. Quotations from seventeen languages, from hieroglyphics to the dialect of the Na-Khi tribe of China are scattered through the Cantos. Two cantos were written completely in Italian: numbers 72 and 73. It is not perfect Italian, though Pound had lived in Italy, off and on, for thirty years when he wrote the poems in Rapallo in 1944 toward the end of the war. There are minute errors of syntax and a few slight slips in verbal tone. But Pound’s ear was so keen, the finest of his generation according to Yeats, it was nearly impossible for him to write a line that was not melodic.