Ezra Pound's daughter takes on Italian fascist group CasaPound
Mary de Rachewiltz, who is 86, was motivated to act when a sympathizer of CasaPound went on a shooting spree in Florence on Dec. 13, killing two men from Senegal, wounding three others and then killing himself.
"This affected me terribly. It was the last straw," she told the Guardian. "I studied in Florence which makes it that much more painful."
Why would a far-right group in Italy take its name from an American poet? That would be the unfortunate part of Pound's legacy. In London, the expatriate author and editor fostered the careers of some of the most significant writers of the 20th century, including James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and Ernest Hemingway. But he became displeased with the politics of the first World War and moved to Italy, where he became enchanted by Benito Mussolini. His support for the Italian fascist included radio broadcasts during World War II that were eventually found treasonous by U.S. authorities. After the war, he was imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital for a dozen years. He returned to Italy and did not disavow his fascist ideas.
CasaPound has distanced itself from the shooter, who had spoken at group meetings. "We are very sorry about this. She doesn't really know about us. We are not racist or violent," Simone di Stefano, an official with the group, told the Guardian. "We would like to resolve this out of the courts -- Pound is not a trademark and anyone can refer to his ideas."
De Rachewiltz, for her part, does not think the organization should use her father's name. "A politically compromised organisation like this has no business using the name Pound," she told the Guardian. She points to his work as explanation. "Pound was not leftwing or rightwing and you have to understand The Cantos to understand that. It is also a question of style. I have seen pictures of their shaven-headed leader and it does not impress me."
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Ezra Pound in 1966. Credit: Jonathan Williams, from the book "A Palpable Elysium: Portraits of Genius and Solitude by Jonathan Williams," published by David R. Godine Publishers