Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bunting on Pound's Anti-Semitism

Bunting to Pound, 16 December 1938.

[Pound had written to Louis Zukofsky, blaming the Rothschilds, rather than the Nazis, for the persecution of the Jews in Germany. Bunting had been arguing with Pound against Pound’s politics for some time, but when he saw the letter he exploded. What follows is a reconstruction of Bunting’s letter from extracts in Makin, Burton and Moody. Each of them quotes slightly differently and this is an attempt to fill in their ellipses.  I’m not sure of the positioning of the first two paragraphs. Anyone who knows better or has seen the letter I’d be grateful for any corrections.]

No, I’m sorry, and Thankyou; but I can’t take it. I wish I were not as much indebted to you as I am.

You know as well as any man that a Jew has the same physique and a similar amount of grey matter as the rest of us. You know as well as my man that to hold one man guilty of the sins of another is an abomination. You know as well as any man that that the non-jews have contributed their fair share, or more than their fare share, of the bankers and other millionaires of doubtful honesty. You have the relevant facts without any need of information that cannot be found in Italy. I can find no excuse, no way of considering your activities as anything else than willful and thought-out perversion of what you know to be true.   

Every anti-Semitism, anti-niggersim, anti-moorism, that I can recall in history was base, had its foundations in the meanest kind of envy and in greed. It makes me sick to see yourself covering yourself in that filth. It not an arguable question, has not been arguable for at least nineteen centuries. Either you know men to be men and not something else, or you make yourself an enemy of mankind at large.  

To spue [sic] out anti-semite bile in a letter to Louis, as I yesterday accidentally discovered you to be doing-to Louis who has shown his devotion to you over many years, and who even now insists that you are to be forgiven because after all you are Ezra-to write such a letter is not a mere lapse of taste it is uncommonly close to what has got to be called the behavior of a skunk.

I suppose if you devote yourself long enough to licking the arses of blackguards you stand a good chance of becoming a blackguard yourself.  It is hard to see how you are going to stop the rot of your mind and heart without a thorough going repudiation of what you have spent a lot of work on. You ought to have the courage for that; but I confess I don’t expect it from you. (Makin 1992, Burton 2013, Moody 2014)

Burton, R. (2013). A Strong Song Tows Us. Oxford, Infinite Ideas.
Makin, P. (1992). Bunting: the shaping of his verse. Oxford, Clarendon Press.
Moody, A. D. (2014). Ezra Pound Poet.Vol II Oxford, Oxford University Press.

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