The Labours of Tovarisch: Ezra Pound's Slavic Worlds

Comparative Literature Luncheon Series
Mar 16, 2015
12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
102 Kern

Mykola Polyuha, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

While Ezra Pound’s biography and works seem to have been thoroughly examined, his heritage contains aspects that remain overlooked. The presence of Eastern European motifs constitutes one of such neglected areas. Although critics occasionally make cursory comments, a detailed elaboration of the topic is non-existent. Typically, Poundian scholars tend to believe that the poet was little concerned with Eastern Europe and his knowledge of the region is by default regarded as insignificant. Pound’s writings, however, testify the opposite. Leonard Doob’s quantitative analysis of Pound’s war speeches, for example, demonstrates that sixty-two percent of Pound’s radio broadcasts contain references to the Soviet Union. Indeed, one can hardly claim that Pound did not know anything at all about Eastern European countries. Many figures whom Pound admired and many friends whose works he often revised either traveled to Eastern Europe, or wrote about the region, or were of Eastern European origin. Eastern European countries were additionally the arenas for the 20th century major historical events (the Bolshevik revolution, both world wars, etc.), i.e., the events that left no one, including Pound, indifferent.

My talk considers Pound’s acquaintance with Eastern European (primarily Russian) cultural and politico-economical realm. By analyzing Pound’s literary heritage, I attempt to determine the broadness and accuracy of his expertise in Russia. In the talk, I will examine both common stereotypes about Eastern Europe that Pound shared with his contemporaries and his own unique views of the region. 

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