Michael T. Davis and Cameron McWhirter, eds. Ezra Pound and Globe Magazine: The Complete Correspondence. Bloomsbury Academic. 2016. ISBN 978-1-4725-8959-
review by Barry Ahearn
The world little noted nor long remembered Globe: Intimate Journal of Travel, Romance, Adventure and World Interest (1937-1938). Yet its contributors included some who were distinguished names at the time and some who achieved distinction later: among others, William Carlos Williams, Langston Hughes, Jesse Stuart, William Saroyan, and Ezra Pound. This volume offers a number of hitherto unpublished items, particularly the correspondence between Pound and his contact at Globe magazine, James Taylor Dunn. In addition, the editors print the surviving contributions that Pound sent to Globe but were rejected. The letters, Pound’s reprinted contributions, and the rejected ones, are all annotated. The editors also include an extensive biographical appendix. They do not supply one listing that would have been welcome: the contents of each issue. This would have given readers a better sense of the context in which Pound’s essays appeared.
The publishers of Globe turned to Pound when they were formulating their plans for the magazine, offering him the opportunity to contribute a monthly letter. He jumped at the chance. As the editors point out in their introduction, Pound saw in Globe a means of circulating his views in the United States. He had not enjoyed such an opportunity since his own short-lived magazine, The Exile, had expired in 1928. (Although he was published in the Delphian Quarterly, it hardly boasted the circulation numbers Globe was aiming for.) As he wrote to the editors, “there is such as Thundering need of SOME communication to U.S.A. & no paper covering it.” Soon he was promoted to the post of “general European correspondent” for the magazine, and provided with a press card (which Pound was particularly eager to acquire). With his usual energetic flair, Pound pelted the editors with names of potential contributors and urged his friends to consider submitting to Globe. He was often successful; six of the contributors to the first issue had been recommended by him.
Pound’s letters to Globe show that he was keenly interested in helping the editors make the magazine a success. Even before the first issue hit the newsstands he was suggesting how they should deal with potential contributors: “When possible TELL writers what YOU want from them.” He reminded them that they should have a distinct idea of what audience they were serving: “WHICH populace are you aiming at?” Pound also attempted to circulate copies among Italian notables, but complained that the editors were stingy with copies: “Of course six copies IZ just NOTHING, if you expect me to show the mag. about.” He advised them that it might be wise to reprint material from abroad. This would help Globe’s bottom line and it would fit with the magazine’s mission: bringing an international perspective to American readers. But the editors replied that they had committed themselves to presenting only “original features.” Towards the end of Globe’s run, Pound was even willing to take a cut in his already meager payment, so important was it that he have access to the American public.
One difficulty with Globe was that the editors seemed never to have settled on what their magazine’s scope was supposed to be. Some of the essays were classified under “Adventure”; others pertained to “Travel.” Still others ranked as “Romance.” Several short stories made up the category of “Fiction.” Finally came the catchall designation “World Interest.” That phrase covers a lot of ground. Pound considered the vagueness of this subject an advantage, at least as far as he was concerned. He could write what he pleased. Globe would become a venue for his analyses of current affairs, analyses usually centering around the curse of economic perfidy and cures for it. In the beginning the editors welcomed his thoughts on “World Interest.” They seemed happy to print such essays as his second in Globe, (“Europe MCMXXXVI”) which entertained readers with references to the Leopoldine Reforms, the “agrarian usury of the Romans,” and examination of the reasons for the shortcomings of the French and English press. Eventually, however, Pound’s relations with the editors grew troubled. Globe’s editorial board seemed unfazed by his explanations of how modern civilization had deteriorated under the hand of the “money monopoly,” nor did they quail at his defense of Mussolini and the fascist movement in Italy. (In June 1937, Dunn wrote Pound to ask if Mussolini “would . . . write an intimate letter for GLOBE sometime.”) The problem was rather with Pound’s paratactic style. It appears that readers of Globe had difficulty following his argument. As Dunn suggested to him, “For instance, on page two, passages like, ‘And a bit later Rothschild horned in on the racket’ need historical elaboration.”
Pound scholars will find much that is familiar here. His essays in Globe have already appeared in facsimile in volume 7 of Ezra Pound’s Poetry and Prose: Contributions to Periodicals. Most of the preoccupations in the essays turn up in the correspondence collected in Roxana Preda’s Ezra Pound’s Economic Correspondence, 1933-1940 and in other Pound essays and letters from the late 1930s. We have been down this road before. Somewhat of an exception is one of the reports that Globe found unsuitable, “Opry out of Doors” (dated August 1938). Pound praises Rossini, gives the back of his hand to Wagner and Verdi, and suggests how neophyte composers might begin learning their craft.
Although the editors of Ezra Pound and Globe Magazine are silent on the subject, something might be said about the relation between Midwestern isolationism and Globe’s backers and editors. Charles A. Lindbergh, who a few years hence would be the most celebrated member of the America First Committee, grew up not far from the home of Globe, St. Paul, Minnesota. The traditional Midwestern distrust of Eastern bankers and foreign entanglements may partly explain Globe’s willingness to print Pound’s characterizations of the Italian and German regimes as peace-loving. Pound saw himself as a lone voice attempting to counter the bad press that Mussolini and Hitler were getting. He clearly saw such reports as part of the schemes of bankers and munitions makers to (at best) create a dismal impression about conditions under fascism, or (at worst) to sway public opinion in favor of war. So in “Inflation Benefit” (August 1937), Pound quoted his old professor, “Bib” Ibbotson, who had recently toured the Third Reich. “He gasps and says: ‘The LIES that you read about Germany!’ He was full of enthusiasm for what he had seen there in the way of their being well fed and eating, in the way of being well housed.”
The editors of Ezra Pound and Globe Magazine allege that “Pound’s arch-conservative leanings . . . made them [Globe’s editors] uneasy,” and that “another problem was Pound’s anti-Semitism.” They submit two kinds of evidence with respect to anti-Semitism being unwelcome in the editorial office of Globe. First, they claim that Dunn, dealt with “Pound’s prejudice” by simply saying nothing about it. The claim that Dunn’s silence on the subject meant that he disapproved is hardly persuasive. Second, and more convincing, they note that Globe rejected some of Pound’s later contributions, one of which—dated July 1937--began with a bit of Poundian doggerel containing references to a “dhirty yidd” and a “dhirty kike.” (It is worth pointing out, however, that in the same essay Pound insisted, “There is no use in merely ‘connecting the idea’ jew ‘and the ‘idea’ money’ and then getting into a lather.”) In another that they turned down-- dated August 1937--Pound assured his readers that “Leon Blum is no good, a sort of kike version of Ramsay Mcdonald.”
At first glance, Ezra Pound and Globe Magazine appears to show no more than the usual number of mistakes one expects to find in scholarly publications these days: missing words, misspellings, names present in the letters but not to be found in the biographical appendix, confusion about who did what and when, vanishing footnotes, and the like. Occasionally one finds speculations that could have been cleared up by reference to already published sources. For example, we find that when Pound refers to a dinner he shared with T. E. Lawrence, the editors wonder if it might possibly have occurred in December 1918. Consultation with Ezra Pound to His Parents: Letters 1895-1929 would have confirmed that at Christmas 1918 Pound provided a turkey dinner for Lawrence and others. One mistake is passing strange. We are told that when Pound returned to Italy in 1958, he stayed at “a castle in Brunnenburg, a village in the Italian Tyrol.” Mary de Rachewiltz will be surprised to hear that her residence has metamorphosed into a village. Elsewhere the editors’ acquaintance with common knowledge falters. They tell us that Horace Greeley’s “famous words attributed to him” were “Go West young man, go West.” Popular memory recalls the advice as “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country.” More troubling than such obvious mistakes are the lapses in transcription. For example, the July 1937 issue contained a Pound essay, “Net Result,” that is (along with his other contributions) reprinted here. When we compare the original printing in Globe with the rendition in this volume, however, we find several errata. “Nations with seaboard culture” becomes “nations of seaboard culture.” “Mere ‘colorful items’” becomes “more ‘colorful items.” The most egregious lapse is that two sentences disappear from the text. Since the editors have provided a flawed version of this already published essay, readers may wonder about the reliability of their transcriptions of the hitherto unpublished ones.