Article Index



Michael Kindellan. The Late Cantos of Ezra Pound.

London: Bloomsbury, 2017.


kindellan cover



Drawing extensively on archival research, The Late Cantos of Ezra Pound critically explores the textual history of Pound's late verse, namely Section: Rock-Drill (1955) and Thrones (1959). Examining unpublished letters, draft manuscripts and other prepublication material, this book addresses the composition, revision and dissemination of these difficult texts in order to shed new light on their significance to Pound's wider project, his methods and techniques, and the structures of authority--literary and political-that govern the meaning of his poetry. Illustrated by reproductions of archival documents, The Late Cantos of Ezra Pound is an innovative new study of one of the most important poets of the 20th century.




1. Introduction: “The Text is Somewhat Exigeant”: the Lateness of Pound's Late Cantos

2. “I Have Always Loathed Reading”: the Trouble with Philology

3. “To Copy and Amplify”: Totalitarian Scholarship in Section: Rock-Drill

4. “No, That Is Not Textual”: the Immaterial Language of Thrones

5. “A Butcher's Block for Biographers”: On Pound's Quiddity

6. Conclusion: “Ego, Scriptor Cantilenae”: Authority Reconsidered

Appendices and Figures




“This is a very valuable book, a real contribution to Pound studies covering an epoch of his work that still remains relatively unexplored: Rock-Drill and Thrones, Cantos 85-109… Kindellan proposes to read these poem “quasi-archaeologically”—“looking into their stages of development, from first inception to final published version(s) and to extrapolate therefrom new understandings about the processes and procedures that governed Pound's writing”… In a striking phrase (one of many throughout the book) he writes, “Pound's texts are unstable not because he was unsure about his meanings; they were unstable because he was sure.” To read Pound properly, he concludes, “we have to allow his misconceptions to unfold according to the logic of their errancy” (46); that is, we have to accept them—it's pointless to contest them… I could go on about the many virtues of The Late Cantos. The book is written in a lively way and I predict it will become essential for all of us working on Rock-Drill and Thrones.

Professor Alec Marsh, Muhlenberg College, USA