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rsz kasper

Alec Marsh. John Kasper and Ezra Pound. Saving the Republic.

Reviews by Greg Barnhisel and Alec Pestell




Alec Marsh. John Kasper and Ezra Pound: Saving the Republic. London: Bloomsbury 2015.


Review by Greg Barnhisel





rsz kasperThe Monti neighborhood, just north of the Forum ruins, is one of the up-and-coming parts of Rome—“history-adjacent,” a realtor might say. It’s an old working-class quarter, lots of modest 19th-century apartment buildings, but now a hipster contingent has brought wine bars and boutiques and such to the old storefronts. Moses also lives there: Michelangelo’s horned Moses, who strokes his dreadlocked beard in the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli.

Not long ago I had an hour to kill in Monti. Wandering around its little streets, I came across a storefront in via di S. Martino ai Monti with striking Vorticist/Futurist paintings on its doors. “La Testa di Ferro: Libreria Non Conforme,” it was called (“Iron Head: A Nonconformist Bookstore”).

Unsurprisingly, the store wasn’t some sort of shrine to the late American football player Ironhead Heyward. Instead, the front vitrine was full of two-fisted titles by Marinetti, Bukowski, Nietzsche, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Beppe Grillo (a populist comedian/politician). And Mussolini. And, occupying the entirety of the top shelf, Ezra Pound.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Italy over the last twenty-five years, and so I shouldn’t be shocked to find actual Fascists there. Still, I was taken aback. To the man next to me, also checking out the window, I exclaimed in amazement, “This is a Fascist bookstore!” He gave me that wry, cynical look that is the Roman birthright, as if to say “what, were you born yesterday morning?”

“La Testa di Ferro” is associated with the “CasaPound” movement, a neofascist social club that started in 2003 in another working-class neighborhood in Rome and that claims to take its inspiration equally from Fascism and Ezra Pound. I’m a sporadic Pound scholar and a longtime Romanophile, but CasaPound was new to me. (I’ve since learned that the Pound scholarly community is well aware of CasaPound.)

Learning this, I was dejected. No matter how much or how strenuously Pound’s advocates, like me, try carefully to distinguish his poetry from his politics, and to disprove the connection so many others have made between his work and their own repellent political views, people with nasty politics just won’t stop finding Pound a kindred spirit.

This is distressing in itself. But more troubling is that even though it’s not Pound’s responsibility that some thuggish street activists in Rome revere him, it gets harder to argue that they shouldn’t. The space on which we can defend Pound keeps shrinking.

Given the revelations about Pound’s political activities that have come out at least since Tim Redman’s 1991 Ezra Pound and Italian Fascism, few still deny that Pound was a dedicated Fascist and anti-Semite from the 1930s through the war and his capture. However—one defense of Pound has gone—it was only fascism in its Italian flavor to which Pound regrettably adhered; we should not conflate Fascism and Nazism, and he was no Nazi. But in a recent book I reviewed for this publication, Matthew Feldman pretty conclusively demonstrates that Pound was an equal-opportunity Fascist. After Mussolini fled to Salò Pound not only offered his assistance to the rump Fascist government, but wrote in favor of Hitler (and the Nazis used his works as propaganda, likely with his acquiescence). The Nazis even prepared a pseudonymous German passport for Pound in case he needed it to flee Italy.

Okay, perhaps he was not only a Fascist but also dabbled in Nazism. But the 1930s and the war were a kind of a fever, a fever from which Pound recovered after his capture. (This has been New Directions’ tacit stance, for instance.) Those who’ve made this argument grant that while quite a few unsavory disciples flocked to St. Elizabeths while Pound languished there, Pound had no control over who wanted to see him. Anyway, it’s understandable that he would have welcomed any visitors, especially those who admired him and knew his work. It’s not his fault that some of them went on to do unsavory things with his ideas.

But in his deeply researched, deeply saddening book John Kasper and Ezra Pound: Saving the Republic (Bloomsbury, 2015), Alec Marsh persuasively argues that Pound not only held on to his most repugnant views through the 1940s and into the 1950s, he reconfigured them to the American political context, and inspired followers with them. Just as Pound’s rage at usury became anti-Semitism in the 1930s, in the 1950s Pound’s interest in the turn-of-the-century naturalist and anti-evolutionist Louis Agassiz became pseudoscientific racism, which then manifested itself in a vocal support for segregationists and even the Klan, Marsh shows. Pound’s Jeffersonian mistrust of the power of a centralized federal government became a public endorsement of state and local resistance to integration, even after this resistance became violent.

How did Pound get here? Delving deep into the Beinecke archives, in which much remains undiscovered, Marsh characterizes Pound’s views in the Pisan cantos and the sections published in the St. Elizabeths years (Section: Rock-Drill and Thrones) as the “‘Southern’ version of American history.” Pound came to this perspective from his growing sense that “the defeat of the South in the Civil War and the defeat of the Axis in the Second World War [were] incidents in the same sequence, homologous phases of the same war of creditors against debtors, usury against productive capital” (21). In fact, Marsh asserts that 1956’s Canto 105 can be read as “Pound’s heavily coded response to what he considered the judicial usurpations of the Warren Court and renewed ‘northern aggression’ against the South” (126). This sympathy with the South then combined with a belief in racial purity and a horror at “mongrelization” that Pound got from Agassiz, “the most influential scientific racist of the nineteenth century” (64).

And, inevitably, it returned to the Jews. “It is perfectly well know[n] that the fuss [a]bout ‘de-segregation’ in the U.S. has been started by the jews,” he wrote to Noel Stock. “Plenty of Americans have been getting on nicely with coloured people for nearly a century… The [Beria]-Frankfurter gang advocates mongrelization” (92). One wonders who precisely would fall into the Venn diagram intersection of the followers of Stalin’s NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, but a null set offered no obstacle to Pound’s fancies.

At the center of this depressing story is the young firebrand John Kasper, perhaps “Pound’s most important reader in the 1950s,” Marsh suggests (xvi). Kasper started a Poundian bookstore, “Make it New,” in Greenwich Village in 1953, but in those years he seemingly wasn’t a bigot. Quite the contrary: Kasper employed and developed a close friendship with Florette Henry, a young African-American woman. Soon, though, Kasper became an enthusiastic, energetic, and virulent racist. He went South and hooked up with anti-integration activists and politicians in Alabama (gubernatorial candidate Admiral John Crommelin and Asa Carter, author of George Wallace’s “segregation now, segregation forever” speech). By 1957, Kasper had become not just an ideologue but an agitator, and helped organize several violent protests, including the bombing of an integrated school in Clinton, Tennessee. He eventually served time for conspiracy in a Federal prison.

But Pound shouldn’t be held responsible for how his admirers pervert his ideas. The book darkly disagrees that Kasper twisted Pound’s beliefs in any way. Marsh doesn’t explicitly state, but his book strongly suggests that Pound’s core principles—the Agassiz notions of racial purity, the anti-Semitism, the hostility to a strong central government—catalyzed Kasper’s inchoate beliefs in 1954 and 1955 to produce the particularly vicious racism that resulted. More damningly, Marsh shows that Pound was with Kasper the whole way: “For Kasper, once he started agitating, school integration was identical to mongrelization; Pound did not disagree” (89). Even after Kasper resorted to violence, Marsh charges, “Pound could have put a stop to Kasper’s activities at any time had he so desired. That Kasper was not called on the carpet by Pound can only mean that the poet did not disapprove of Kasper’s actions” (173).

Certainly Kasper saw his work as the practical application of Pound’s philosophy, and wanted the master to know that the people were hungry for his wisdom. “Everywhere I go,” Kasper wrote back to his master in 1958, “people ask me about E.P. from crackers, red necks, wool hats, and hillbillys in the cornfields and on the mountain ridges to high brows and jewspaper reporters… Hillbillies talk of E.P. as readily as Dan’l Boone or Davey Crockett” (225-6, 190). This is likely wishful thinking, or simply flattery, but Pound ate it up. More importantly, in all of his extensive correspondence with Kasper he never objected how Kasper used or interpreted his writings.

K in the crowdThis is depressing enough, but Marsh goes on to argue that Pound’s ideas continue to ripple through the U.S. political fringe in other ways. In December 2015, a group of antigovernment activists, motivated by fury at the Federal government, the inspiration of a patriarch named Cliven Bundy, and a canon of sacred scriptures including the Constitution, the Book of Mormon, and the writings of Mormon rebel Cleon Skousen, uninvitedly came to the aid of two Oregon ranchers who were facing prison time. Near Burns, just a few hours from Pound’s birthplace in Hailey, Idaho (and even closer to Klamath Falls, Oregon, where both of my parents grew up), this small group took over a remote wildlife refuge and held it for several weeks. But the mass uprising they hoped to spark never materialized. After several weeks of standoff, the protesters were captured—one killed in the process—and indicted on federal charges.

John Kasper and Ezra Pound provocatively suggests that we can see Pound also in this fiasco. The antigovernment fury that motivated the defenders of the Oregon ranchers—indeed, the acts of the ranchers themselves—was rooted in the so-called “Sagebrush Rebellion” of the 1970s and 1980s, when Westerners who made their living from agriculture and natural-resource extraction began to rail against Federal regulations and control of the land. A key theorist behind the Sagebrush Rebellion was T. David Horton, a Carson City, Nevada activist—and one-time Pound disciple, and Kasper’s partner in the 1950s Poundian publishing venture Kasper & Horton. Many of the foundational ideas about the illegitimacy of central authority that Kasper and Horton (and another Pound acolyte turned far-right activist, Eustace Mullins) started disseminating in the 1950s became cornerstones of the American antigovernment movement in the West decades later.

Given the care Marsh has taken with his research, I found it surprising that in another area the book shows a real lack of attention. The proofreading is so haphazard, particularly near the end of the book, as to be distracting. Dropped commas, incorrectly used colons and semicolons, inconsistent capitalization of titles like the “Committee to R[r?]estore the Constitution,” Archibald “MacLiesh” twice in one paragraph and “MacLeish” twice in the next, “stationery” spelled “stationary,” even the dreaded “its/it’s” confusion. It’s notoriously difficult, given Pound’s resolutely nonstandard spelling and punctuation and usage (and his followers’ compulsion to model their writing after his), to proofread a text based on Pound’s correspondence, but these errors aren’t just limited to quotes from Pound.

Academic publishers’ budgets are severely pinched, and even the top houses are outsourcing their proofreading. I don’t fault a first-time author, in need of a publication for tenure, if her book is a hash of run-ons and comma splices. Marsh’s book, though, is different. He’s not a newbie; he’s one of the leading figures in the field, and this is a very significant and original work of scholarship. So why is this book’s text so sloppy? It’s troubling that Feldman is the series editor here, as his own otherwise important book (with Palgrave) was a similarly shoddy product. I’ll grant scholars some leeway in this climate of austerity, but we’ve got to do better.

Dismal as it is, John Kasper and Ezra Pound is a crucial book, not only for the study of the life and work of Ezra Pound but for those who want to understand the rage of American antigovernment militants. We need to take these people seriously, and understand their ideology. On these grounds Marsh justifiably calls me out, pointing out that in my first monograph (on Pound and New Directions Books) I dismissed Kasper in passing as a “crackpot” crony of Pound’s. But in truth, Marsh conclusively shows, Kasper “was not [just] an unstable crackpot on the fringes of Pound’s community at St. Elizabeths” (233). (I will limply defend myself with my first published article, an enumerative bibliography of Kasper & Horton, which took Kasper more seriously, and which Marsh doesn’t cite.) Kasper understood what Pound was trying to say about American politics and society in the later 1950s, and “tried faithfully, if imperfectly, to put his Master’s ideas into action and save the republic” in those years (233). We should be glad that he failed, just as Italy, chaotic and corrupt as it is, should be glad for CasaPound to remain a fringe movement.

While John Kasper and Ezra Pound will be catalogued and shelved with the Pound books, and like J.J. Wilhelm’s The American Roots of Ezra Pound (1985) it links Pound’s ideas and sometimes even his poetry to the American cultural context, it’s not solely or even primarily a book about Pound. Pound looms in the background for most of the book, sending and receiving letters, but the real central character is Kasper. Marsh (with assistance from Archie Henderson, a nonacademic who is one of the most generous researchers of the Pound scholarly community) follows Kasper almost day by day through the late 1950s, and in so doing provides a truly unique portrait of a freelance racist moving through the South as desegregation began. Given this, the book is as valuable as a ground-level study of radical resistance to civil rights, and the sometimes-unlikely theories behind that resistance, as it is as a contribution to Pound studies.



Alec Marsh. John Kasper and Ezra Pound: Saving the Republic. London: Bloomsbury, 2015.


  review by Alex Pestell



rsz kasperThe first volume of this journal saw a controversy unfold over several issues. Its subject was a book by Matthew Feldman (Ezra Pound’s Fascist Propaganda, 1935-1945) that had been published by Palgrave Pivot, a platform for mid-length studies that offers scholars the opportunity to publish research that is unconstrained by the usual publishing model. Pivot books are shorter than full-length monographs, and published within a matter of weeks: this makes them ideal for the kind of intervention Feldman’s book is intended to be, and as intervention the controversy in Make It New shows it to have been brilliantly successful. The dispute began with three reviews published concurrently in the second issue, by Leon Surette, Alec Marsh and Greg Barnhisel (MIN 1.2). To put it briefly, Surette and Barnhisel took issue with what they saw as an over-reliance on rhetoric in Feldman’s argument. No Pound scholar, they argued, would today deny the poet’s adherence to a right-wing politics (albeit one whose exact contours are still debated). And yet Feldman (partly, perhaps, because of his lack of expertise in Pound scholarship) has entered the lists brandishing a large quantity of documentary evidence designed to prove to a blinkered Pound industry that the poet was an unambiguous supporter of Fascism. Closer reading of the extant literature on Pound’s fascism and anti-Semitism, their reviews suggest, would have made it harder for Feldman to remain satisfied with the redundant demonstration of Pound’s ugly politics and perhaps forced him to confront the far more difficult task of trying to understand how Pound, or anyone for that matter (for as Surette points out, Pound was merely following the crowd in his politics), could fall into this error. Issue three saw A. David Moody provide a more detailed critique, adding to Surette’s comments an indictment of Feldman’s asserted ‘empiricism’, offering a fairly damning list of errors in the book, and finishing with a request that Pound scholars focus on what is of ‘permanent value’ in the poet’s work.

By contrast, Alec Marsh’s review – appearing alongside Surette’s and Barnhisel’s – claimed that, far from rehearsing a well-established theme, Feldman’s book ‘will change the way Pound is viewed’ (MIN 1.2, 11). In his review and in a response to Moody’s piece, published in issue four of Make It New, Marsh argued that the value of Feldman’s book lies precisely in his distance from the Pound industry. If this distance means that there will inevitably be some errors of omission and commission, on the plus side it leads us to a view of Pound we don’t often see: one in which the politics need not necessarily be read through the aesthetics, as if the latter have an instrumental purity which allows us to analyse the former. In other words, we need not approach Pound’s politics with the prior knowledge that he was one of the great artistic innovators; he was also, and with as much conviction, a fascist, and the huge body of work he produced in this capacity is comparable in scale and sincerity to his literary criticism. There is, then, no reason to assume that, just because his aesthetic career was chronologically prior to his political career, that it somehow has a privileged status: the latter can shed as much light on the former as vice versa. The virtue of Feldman’s book is that it tips the scales in favour of the political writings, redressing a long-held bias in favour of the literary texts. If Pound scholars are eager to pounce on the errors in his study, Marsh implies, this may have more to do with a certain defensiveness over their territory, or over Pound himself, than with a concern for scholarly inaccuracies.

I begin with this lengthy summary of an argument about another book because I believe it provides an essential context to the work under review here, Marsh’s John Kasper and Ezra Pound: Saving the Republic. The questions raised by the dispute in Make It New resonate with the themes of Marsh’s research since Money and Modernity: Pound, Williams, and the Spirit of Jefferson (1998). To what extent can Pound be said to be the exponent of the politics of those groups he fell in with? What is the relationship between his literary and political work? Perhaps most saliently, what does it mean to be intimate with the life, works, and didacticism of Ezra Pound? None of these questions are broached by Feldman’s book, but Marsh’s scholarship – including Saving the Republic – is driven by them, and that is what makes this work the one that “will change the way Pound is viewed.” Marsh is a lifelong devotee of Pound’s: the pain with which he has encountered the results of his research is evident in this book, but he does not shy away from them. More importantly, Saving the Republic begins to dismantle the artificial barrier between the political and the literary which Marsh (in my view wrongly) argued might begin to be eroded by Feldman’s book.

Kasper mainSaving the Republic tells the story of the relationship between Ezra Pound and John Kasper, a far-right militant with a literary bent who began a correspondence with the poet while still a student at Columbia. Marsh’s book could in one respect be seen as simply a biography of this American terrorist, told from the perspective of his letters to Pound. But buried among the reams of archival evidence there is also a strong, subversive thesis, which Marsh announces in his preface: ‘All in all Kasper was Pound’s most perspicacious reader, seeing through the elaborate and recondite surface of the poem to its radical, and therefore simple intent: to “save the republic”’ (xvi). The thesis is broadly this: Pound could not put his name to political screeds of the kind he had composed before and during the war, for fear of sabotaging any attempts to have him released from St Elizabeths. Instead, his “disciples,” a heterogeneous group of usually young men and women, became the channel for the poet’s political ideas, setting up presses and bookshops, writing letters, pamphlets and articles, and presenting radio shows aimed to promulgate the Poundian paideuma. Of these disciples, Kasper was the most energetic, the one who was most willing to put into action what he saw as the oppositional energy of Pound’s ideas, ideas which (Marsh argues, here and elsewhere) infuse the final volumes of The Cantos.

In telling this story, Marsh makes use of letters from Kasper to Pound now held at the Lilly and Beinecke archives (Pound’s letters to Kasper have yet to surface, and are presumed lost). Marsh’s narrative shows Kasper following a trajectory from anti-Semitic bookseller, involved in the bohemian artistic scene of Greenwich Village, to racist with contacts to the Ku Klux Klan, and engaged on a very public and probably violent campaign against desegregation in the schools of the American South. A subterranean theme running through the book is that Pound was undergoing a similar ideological transformation in his Washington years, and that the letters Kasper wrote to Pound relating his journey through the American far-right reveal that this journey was not made independently of Pound’s influence, and vice versa. Obviously, without being able to read the letters Pound wrote to Kasper, Marsh is unable to define the precise nature of this influence, which remains as a haunting vacuum on the periphery of Marsh’s narrative. But there is much more to the book than that. What makes it so pivotal in Pound studies is, first, its comprehensive investigation into the political and historical contexts of Pound’s post-war writing, and second, its insistence that these contexts make Pound’s political and literary activities inextricable from each other.

Marsh’s book covers a huge amount of ground (too much to cover in this review), cramming seventeen chapters into 250 pages. In order to understand John Kasper, Marsh takes a long view of the anti-government, isolationist, and racist ideologies he adopted, at the start focusing on the aftermath of the Civil War, understanding Reconstruction as an event that is still being played out in America today. Kasper’s first, diffident communications with Pound are set against the backdrop of a New Christian Right united by McCarthy in an anti-Communist crusade, though as Marsh points out, the anti-Semitism of Kasper and Pound, which was not shared by the majority of McCarthyites, meant that they “remain to the Right of the rightists” (28). When he visited Washington, Kasper met not only Pound but David Horton and Eustace Mullins, key figures in postwar attempts to disseminate Pound’s ideas. According to Marsh, the meeting was transformative for Kasper, whose letters to the poet took on an adulatory tone, demanding tasks from the “ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCE” (32). Marsh’s problem here is that, given the absence of Pound’s letters, he can only speculate as to the degree to which Kasper’s manifold schemes were the direct result of Pound’s urgings, or received his approbation. Marsh is forced to read between the lines, extrapolating Pound’s gist from the tone and syntax of Kasper’s responses. These conjectures occupy only a small part of Marsh’s book, and to my mind he offers enough circumstantial evidence to support them, but Pound’s side of the story remains, necessarily, somewhat in the shadows.

Among Kasper’s schemes were the setting up of the Square $ press with Horton, and the establishment of the Make It New Bookshop in Manhattan. One of the reasons Kasper is so fascinating is this cross-over between literature and politics: from the beginning Kasper was thinking politically through Pound’s reading list. As Marsh puts it, ‘The Make It New Bookshop is in so many ways a Poundian microcosm, a paideuma’ (38). He stocked, for example, “all novels recommended in ABC of reading,” as well as a great deal of revisionist history, Gesell and Douglas, and Mein Kampf (39-40). The debate that Kasper and Pound evidently had over the contents of the shop brings to light far broader political vistas. For example, Kasper is compelled to defend his choice of writers against Pound’s accusation that he is stocking too much “JEW ROT”; this leads into a passage where Marsh outlines the complex ways in which the presence on the shelves of some figures – at the time under investigation by McCarthy’s committee – may have been “camouflage” for the more radical politics of Kasper’s shop. The double nature not only of the allegiances of these figures, but of Kasper’s displaying them in his “office,” shows how slippery questions of allegiance are when we talk about Pound’s political milieu, and this slipperiness extends to Pound’s writings.

This incident does bring to light the extent to which Kasper was controlled by Pound, with attempts to depart from his curriculum discouraged, debates over politics conducted through the medium of clandestine texts and revisionist histories. Since this pretty much describes the methodology of The Cantos as a whole, it raises questions about what it means to be a Poundian, to be a good reader of Pound, to be intimate with his curriculum. (One stalwart Poundian, regular contributor to Paideuma and editor of Pound’s letters to Laughlin, David Gordon, at one point worked in Kasper’s bookshop, and agitated against desegregation [3].) Given the investment readers need to make in the texts that compose Pound’s post-war cantos if we are to understand them, is there a point at which we become so immersed in these texts that we effectively hand over to Pound control of the political reference points by which we assess his poem (a poem which, as Marsh notes, Pound saw as a “political weapon”)? 

At any rate, it seems that Pound’s curriculum continued to influence Kasper after his stint in Greenwich Village. Reading Frobenius may have encouraged Kasper’s admiration for Black Nationalism, and he believed that it might be possible to enlist the support of African Americans against the threat posed by Jewish finance capital. Perhaps more importantly, Marsh suggests that Kasper took from Pound’s misreading of Frobenius’s paideuma as “the grisly roots of ideas going into action” the notion that the poet’s texts were not there simply to be passively ingested, but required action to activate their latent energies (55). Combined with his study (also Pound-inspired) of a very different scientist, Louis Agassiz (Kasper edited an anthology of his writings, Gists of Agassiz), Kasper was led towards a rigid understanding of the “purity” of race, a notion that eventually led to his opposition to desegregation; it’s another aspect of Marsh’s long view that he provides a chapter on the history of Pound’s encounters with eugenics, racialism and Nazism. This leads into the more Kasper-centric section of the book, in which Kasper becomes a key player in the fight against school integration as mandated by the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision of 1954.

According to the logic of Kasper, Pound and others on the far right, the Supreme Court was acting according to the hidden dictates of a powerful cabal of Jews, who saw desegregation as a means to ‘mongrelize’ the US and in the process, apparently, weaken it to the point that it could be more easily enslaved (90). Kasper swiftly became involved in the activism directed against Brown and attempts to put it into practice, first assisting with Admiral John Crommelin’s campaign for the Senate primary in Alabama (on a platform at least partly based on Pound’s advice [123-4]), then, after coming into contact with prominent members of the KKK, becoming the rabble-rouser that he is now remembered as in histories of the period. Marsh unpicks the complex chronology of this period in Kasper’s life, which involved multiple run-ins with the police, and tours of the states affected by desegregation, delivering soapbox speeches against integration, against a backdrop of terrorist firebombings to which he might or might not have been connected. The question of Pound’s influence, or awareness, of Kasper’s activities here becomes crucial, since these activities risked adversely influencing any attempt to have Pound released. Marsh is able to marshal a good deal of circumstantial, and not-so-circumstantial, evidence, but here the absence of Pound’s side of the story is sorely felt.

Whatever the precise details of this part of the relationship are, Saving the Republic establishes a rich panorama of characters that cannot be ignored and must be taken into account in any future criticism of Pound’s post-war life and writing. Marsh gives essential portraits of other figures in the network of far-right agitators with which Pound was in contact, often through the offices of Kasper. Pound shared with his disciple David Horton, for example, a friendship with General Pedro del Valle, an ex-US Army General, then leader of the Defenders of the American Constitution, a right-wing pressure group obsessed with States’ Rights. Marsh claims that Pound was the eminence grise behind del Valle’s “Benton Memorial Award,” given annually to the member of Congress thought to have “best defended the US Constitution in the previous year” (107), and named after Senator Thomas Hart Benton, whose memoir Thirty Years’ View was a key source for the post-war Cantos. Another disciple (of Kasper as well as Pound) was David Wang, who had worked in Kasper’s Make It New bookstore and was instrumental in forming a splinter group of the Wheat In Our Bread party (named by Pound), a segregationist, States’ Rights formation led by Kasper. Robert Furniss (99ff) was a segregationist, lawyer and broadcaster, who assisted Kasper in the establishment of a second Poundian bookshop, the Cadmus in Washington, and eventually became Pound’s lawyer. The list goes on. Marsh demonstrates conclusively that Pound’s politics were not cranky, sui generis, or visionary, but of a piece with a recognisable strand of political thinking at work in the US from the fifties to the present day. Saving the Republic – which will hopefully soon be supplemented by a volume connecting its concerns with The Cantos – shows not only that Ezra Pound’s propaganda did not stop with Pisa, but also that the questions of purity, permanence, and justice that permeate the post-war cantos only become intelligible in the context of Pound’s political views.


Kasper arrested