Article Index

 

 

Searching for a publisher for the Cantos.

Interlude, 1930-1932

 

1931 

To Louis Zukofsky, 28 October [1931]

L/LZ 103

Whoever seriously does the prose with decent assurances and on decent basis of FINISHING the job; wd. as a plum get the first cheap edtn. of the Cantos. I.E. 2.50 (two bucks et demi or something like that) [George] Oppen [To Publications] can take position that IF he satisfies me as to prose (his; Oppen’s security to finish it) he wd. get the Cantos; which (judging from sales of Personae (Liveright’s edtn.) I suppose <is or> are a sure payer. It is also or ought to be obvious that I can NOT give the Cantos to a ramshackle house likely to cascade at any moment/

 

To Olga Rudge, 23 November 1931 

YCAL 54, 11/281

Ziao/

The enc/ is privik and confidenshul. Anyhow an inkum fer Zuk/

Note. “The enc” is an autograph letter from Louis Zukofsky proposing that Pound publish his cantos with George Oppen’s “TO” publishing venture at 50 cents the copy. See letter below.

 

From Louis Zukofsky, 12 November 1931 [enclosure in letter to Olga above]

YCAL 54, 11/281

“Coming”

Father:

[…]

The only reason why I didn’t think of you first as a business bet was that I thought Rexroth R. M. R. wuz goin’ to publish you – and I didn’t want to take any business out of his hands. That wd. be bad bizness, in any case, and seein’ especially that I like him a great deal etc etc – Anyway, from a letter to me he sent the other day he seems to say one of the reasons holding him back is your not writing him.

[…]

Your idea of ultimiate folio sounds good – will transmit it to Geo. Oppen – however, his intention is to impress the public with the price – 50¢ (maybe 35¢!)  – and not to publish de luxe. Anyway, that’s something to think of later.

[…]

Which brings us to Oppen’s mechanic. He don’t deal in ships, nor in wool either. He has(unless the State or Revolution appropriates it) an income of $500 a month. He says he doesn’t need all of it in Le Beausset, Var. His intentions are to publish six brochures a year –one every two months – if the first (if the scheme of publg. you & Bill at once goes thru the first two) brochure breaks even

2. He doesn’t expect any gains.

3. He will pay me $100 a month (my Madison bread returned) for racking my brain with publicity, distribution in ‘murka (i.e. printing will be done in France).

4. He will pay the author $100 immediately on publication $100 for his book – and I don’t think he’d have any objection – if I know him – against paying 10% royalties as a whole exclusive orinclusive of the hundred – I cant figger out which I shd use ex or in but you know wat I mean – you would get your hundred, and the one or two dollars addtnl. royalties if they came around – I’d see to it since I will run or help run the books of the firm – and in spite of the brankrupp seat of me pants have generally speaking found it convenient not to deal in adolescent Hooverian practices. 

Further – if you want lineage etc. Geo. is of the Oppenheimers (the Jew Swiss family) – owns a caf-boat now & then, cd. if he wants to, I suppose, unless, the family is recently very hard up, get credit from them, but I don’t think he wants more ’n his allowance & wants not to bother about bizness if it isn’t goin to make me & the authors he publishes happy, & if it’s going to involve him [in] debt. So it’ll be up to me – largely to see that he sells 2000 copies of the first book (he wuz figgerin at 35¢, maybe necessary to sell only 1500 at 50¢) to see that he breaks even. Oppen get 23, married for 3 years now. Suggest if you’re in his neighborhood Le Beausset, Var., to drop in and be entertained by a very lovely pair.

Of course, he’s my friend, and has proved reliable – which doesn’t count – even if he proved unreliable would Kung be anxious to see him punished?? Mm say yourself!

Add the explanations: Costs of his first book about as follows:

200 printers

100 L. Z.

100 author

100 cover, shipping, tariff (I suppose we couldn’t escape that, damn, even if we incorporated in Murka) – distribution etc.

He says he is ready to give the first book to the printer on Dec. 1

Suggest therefore that you yourself to save time – it wd. take 8 weeks otherwise from you to me to him to you to him – write him at Le Beausset, Var. France, George A. Oppen, Jr. & explain your intentions. In the meantime, I can write explaining why he shd. hold over till he has $1000 bucks to put 2 books thru – In any case, if all’s agreed between you – you’ll have to withdraw the How to Read from other hands (but for God’s sake don’t make it seem as if we’re competing with Rexroth!)

As for yr. offer of the Cantos in case all the prose is, or is promised to be published, alright – Doubt however, if Geo. will want to change his price of 50¢. Of course, he might begin another series, later on, while he’s publishing yr. prose in volumes at 50¢. Personally, not ever having made any money in poesy – I don’t see why The Cantos shdn’t sell at 50¢ in a volume the format of The Exile. They might sell more. And then again they may not?

Finally: Please write Oppen.

yrs Z

O yes – obvious from this letter that Oppen isn’t making any appeal but putting it as pizznizz proposition, conservative estimate etc.

 

 

From Louis Zukofsky, 7 December 1931

L/LZ 107

No use worryin’ about a commercial edtn. of Cantos now. Of course, if you can get reg’lar publisher – Boni etc – to do it within a year – the next year – alright. If not you should keep TO firmly in mind, if in the background. The point is Oppen if I know him - wd. be delighted to give you every bit of profit on an edition of Cantos, and that shd. amount to – if you’re at all a commercial fit – something.

 

 

From Virginia Rice, 31 December 1931

YCAL 43 44/1889

Dear Mr. Pound: –

I have your letter of December 17th, also the Cantos. The latter are very exciting and I’ll see what I can do about them. […]

This is merely an acknowledgment of your letter and Cantos, but later on I’ll attend to your work in more minute detail. 

 

 

1932

From George Oppen, 21 January 1932

YCAL 54, 12/297

Dear Pound:

[…]

Do you wish to give us the agency for XXX Cantos, Hours Press Ed.? Or any other titles? We could distribute books only in the USA as I will not have time to do so here. [France]

We will have to raise the price of our books to 75¢ in USA, 10 francs in Europe to cover the American duty.

The Fifth Decad

rsz toscana siena3 tango7174

Cantos in periodicals

Three Cantos (Ur-Cantos)

A Draft of XXX Cantos

A Draft of XVI Cantos

A Draft of the Cantos 17-27

Cantos XXVIII-XXX

Eleven New Cantos

rsz guido cavalcanti