A BELATED VISIT

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    by Roxana Preda

 

 

Evahessesmile

 

Eva is a survivor. All the old guard is gone: Kenner and Terrell, the two great friends and doyens of Ezra Pound studies passed away in 2003. Burt Hatlen followed them in 2008, Wilhelm in 2012, Stock just November 2013.

There is just Eva – born in 1925, she is still with us. I found it was high time I went to see her, so on a fine sunny weekend in October 2013, I did. Professor Richard Taylor, living in Bayreuth, not far from Munich, was a friendly mediator. At the time, I knew nothing of Eva’s circumstances: Rick broke it to me gently. Eva had suffered a stroke. I froze: was she paralyzed? Well, she was in a wheelchair, but otherwise well, some days better than others, as normal at her age. Her mind was still working, which, given the situation, was nothing short of a miracle.

She lives in a neat room on the first floor of a retirement home in Schwabing, the Munich district where she has spent all her adult life. The two big windows opening unto a park let in a lot of light, which was troublesome to her: she wore dark glasses and often turned her wheelchair away from the window. The sunny October day was a boon to us but difficult for her. She invited us to Kaffee und Kuchen downstairs – we could sit in the shade and talk of old times. I had prepared my questions about things I wanted to know, especially about her participation in the founding of Paideuma at the beginning of the 1970s – however, the conversation turned around other memories, which were obviously dearer to her. Her letters to Pound during the 1950s and her personal acquaintance with him, for instance, or the trials and tribulations of her lifelong effort to translate The Cantos into German, a work that had been finished that year with a beautiful bilingual volume that I had brought for her to autograph. Our whole conversation was in English; she had no difficulties or hesitations using it. She asked me if I could read German – when I answered in the affirmative, she gave me her latest monograph – a handsome volume about Pound and love published in 2008, which I promised to review.

N4The conversations with Eva that we had on that weekend made it even clearer than before that she did not consider herself a Pound scholar exclusively. Her list of publications showed her to be a student of modernism in the broadest sense: she wrote books about modernist poets, translated their work into German and corresponded with them too. 

I suggested that these letter exchanges, especially those with Pound and Eliot will surely be interesting for scholars to study and that they should be published. She took a drag out of her slim cigarillo and said nothing.

 Did I see the shadow of a smile? 

  

Eva Hesse's publication list can be consulted on her own website at http://www.bernhard-frank.de/evahesse/veroeffentlichungen.htm