CALENDAR OF COMPOSITION
The controversial reference to Rothschild at the beginning of canto 52 gives us a first temporal axis for the composition of the poem. Louis Rothschild was arrested by the Nazis in Vienna immediately after the Anschluss in March 1938. Pound was enthusiastic about this event and dashed off an article for the British Fascist periodical Action almost immediately (it was printed on 2 April 1938). Rothschild’s arrest may have been the stimulus behind the inclusion of the passages referring to the family in the canto. However, other lines (“poor yitts paying for Stinkschuld/ paying for a few big jews’ vendetta on goyim”) also suggest that Pound was writing under the pressure of later events in Italy, such as the Manifesto of Race (Corriere della sera, 14 July 1938) and the racial laws (17 November 1938), as well as the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht, 9-10 November 1938) in Germany.
We know that Pound was reading de Mailla’s Histoire Générale de la Chine in the spring of 1938. By 6 May 1938, he mentioned to Dr. Brewer material he would incorporate in canto 53. These indicators suggest that a first draft of canto 52 may have been written around March-April 1938.
Pound left his Chinese History Cantos in draft form and proceeded to read The Works of John Adams in the autumn of 1938. After he finished his Adams cantos by February 1939, he turned his attention back to the Chinese history cantos and retyped the sequence, before sending it to Faber in April 1939 for publication.
T. S. Eliot, who was always careful to avoid that Faber be sued for libel, drew Pound’s attention to the Rothschild passage and suggested the alternative “Bleistein” to replace Rothschild’s name. Pound rejected the suggestion and replaced the name by “Stinkschuld” in July 1939. After some discussion, it was agreed that all the references to Rothschild (the name in lines 13-14 and further, lines 29-33, shown below) should be blacked out. It is to be noted that the black-out did not erase all of Pound’s anti-Semitic remarks, but only the references to Rothschild, where the danger of a libel suit made Eliot cautious for Faber’s safety. See also Resources where the areas are shown in grey:
Stinkschuld’s sin drawing vengeance, poor yitts paying for
specialité of the Stinkschuld
bomb-proof under their house in Paris
where they cd/ store aht voiks
fat slug with three body-guards
soiling our sea front with a pot bellied yacht in the offing,
The suppression was kept up to the New Directions edition of 1986, when the passage was reinstated at Laughlin’s initiative (Hesse/Ickstadt 1268; Bacigalupo 10; Nadel 157).
The canto was published by Faber in London in January 1940. Starting December 1939, Pound was negotiating a new American publisher for all his works: young James Laughlin. He was to take over publication of the cantos from Farrar & Rinehart and start his new publishing venture, New Directions, by printing Cantos LII-LXXI. As the Calendar shows, Laughlin was warned of the anti-Semitic lines in the canto before actually seeing the text, as he did not receive the galleys from Faber. This started a very candid dialogue between Pound and Laughlin on the question of anti-Semitism in the winter of 1939-1940 (see below). For a while, Laughlin had just the Adams cantos, then, in the spring of 1940, he told Pound to send him a copy of the Faber edition, promising that his printing in the U.S. would be identical. He was relieved to see that the problematic lines had been blacked out (he called them “nigsticks”) so he did not need to worry about the anti-Semitic content any further. Laughlin went on and published an American edition in September 1940. Pound did not see any advance proofs, and, because of the war, he was not even aware that the new edition had come out, as the correspondence between the United States and Italy was strongly delayed and difficult. However, on its way from London to New York, the canto dropped a line: «(“Pericles,” near the beginning)» existed only in the Faber edition of canto 52, but not in the New Directions one. As the Faber text was discontinued in 1975, current readers of The Cantos are now unaware that the line ever existed. The only still active edition including it is the Mondadori bilingual edition, with its translation into Italian by Mary de Rachewiltz (1985). Although The Cantos Project is based on the current New Directions edition, we are including the line at the position it used to have in the Faber (l.37), reasoning that since the canto was printed by Faber first, it should be restored - we have found no correspondence with an instruction on Pound’s part to have the line dropped. The same is valid for the word “Or” at l.40, also dropped in the New Directions edition. The word may be inconspicuous but is important as link to the preceding passage and has explanatory weight.
In 1951, the ideogram “chih3” was inserted at the end of the canto in the second printing of the New Directions edition of Cantos I-LXXXIV. The ideogram was not inserted at the end of the Faber edition, as there was no space left at the bottom of the page (Eastman 79).
Correspondence by Ezra Pound: (c) Mary de Rachewiltz and the Estate of Omar S. Pound. Reproduced by permission.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Ten Eyck, David. Ezra Pound’s Adams Cantos. London: Bloomsbury, 2012.
Cantrell, Carol H. and Ward Swinson. “Cantos LII-LXXI: Pound’s Textbook for Princes.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 17.2-3 (1988): 111-44.
Qian, Zhaoming. Ezra Pound’s Chinese Friends. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008.
Pound, Ezra. Ezra Pound and Japan. Letters and Essays. Ed. Sanehide Kodama. Redding Ridge CT: Black Swan Books, 1987.
Moody, A. David. Ezra Pound: Poet. Vol. II: The Epic Years, 1921-1939. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014.
Izzo, Carlo. “24 lettere e 9 cartoline inedite di Ezra Pound” Civiltà americana. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1976. 249-85.
Ezra Pound and James Laughlin: Selected Letters. Ed. David M. Gordon. New York: Norton, 1994.
Nadel, Ira. “Visualizing History: Pound and the Chinese Cantos.” A Poem Containing History. Textual Studies in The Cantos. Ed. Lawrence S. Rainey. Ann Arbor: Michigan UP, 1997. 151-166.
Pound, Ezra. The Selected Letters of Ezra Pound 1907-1941. Ed. D. D. Paige. New York: New Directions, 1971.
Pound, Ezra. Selected Prose, 1905-1965. Ed. William Cookson. New York: New Directions, 1973.
“Immediate Need of Confucius.” Aryan Path, August 1937. SP 75-80.
12 March 1938. The Anschluss: The German annexation of Austria.
March 1938. Louis Rothschild is arrested by the Nazis in Vienna.
2 April 1938. Pound published “Rothschild Arrested” in the British Fascist periodical Action
To Joseph Brewer, 6 May 1938
C&S I, 122n.18
[suppression of] “the registered facts of Chinese history from 1766 B.C.”
Note. “Pound gets to the year 1760 B.C. in Canto 53/264, suggesting that he had gotten at least this far in reading and note-taking by the time he wrote to Brewer” (C&S I: 122n.18).
To Katue Kitasono, 2 June 1938
I don’t yet know enough to deal properly with the rest of Fenollosa’s notes. I have a good translation of the Li KI (Bk of Ceremonies, with the original text, French and latin)
I am in the middle of de Mailla’s Histoire Generale de la Chine/ translation of Tong Kien Kang Mou/ but only in french; not printed with the original.
30 September 1938 – The Munich Agreement.
1-10 October 1938 – France and the UK allow Germany to annex the Sudetenland, a territory belonging to Czechoslovakia.
To Olga Rudge, 13 October 1938, London
he gotta start on Canto 61 or thaaarabahts/ i; e; wot is to foller ChinKantos when he gits enough Chinkese to finish ’em and FollowEM
9-10 November 1938 – The Nazis carry out the Jewish pogrom called Die Kristallnacht [called in English The Night of the Broken Glass]
17 November 1938 – the introduction of anti-Semitic legislation in Italy.
To T. S. Eliot, 9 January 1939
I am sailin along into the seventh decad. The sixth isn’t polished yet
To Olga Rudge, 12 February 1939
rereading his 20 canters / and finished or at any rate got to end of 10 folios Adams/
To Katue Kitasono, 3 March 1939
Dear K 2
There is a mention of Japan at the edge of my chinese Cantos/ now on desk, hope to publish in Autumn
62/61 China 62/71 John Adams pater patriae U.S.A. more than Washington or Jefferson/ though all three essential and (all) betrayed by the first congress.
I must go on making clean typescript of them. Now on Canto 67.
To Agnes Bedford, 4 April 1939
EPP 396; Carpenter 569; AC 6; PCH 151
Cantos 52/71 to Faber
a progruss on the earlier ones
tenny rate somfink different.
From T. S. Eliot, 15 July 1939
I don’t find anything libellous about Chinese emperors that isn’t made safe by lapse of time, similarly about Adams’s, but they [the Faber directors] now agree with me that if you remain keen on jew-baiting, that is your affair, but that name of Rothschild should be omitted. Obvious to me from the start, but you can’t expect all minds to work as fast as mine. Alternative blank or fancy name, and if you care to have it will present you with Bleistein which is almost of equal value METRICALLY.
To T. S. Eliot, 18 July 1939
[Pound suggested Faber use] a line of ten dots. To hell with Bleistein, a mere Baerlein. If you must have it scan, at least conserve a few implications and use the form STINKSCHULD.
To T. S. Eliot, 1 September 1939
I find I must have my ‘Stinkschuld’ on galley one/ as the dots repeated 3 times have no phonetic body / just a silence with no coherence to make a body for the verse.
To Henry Swabey, 2 September 1939
Dear Swabe: If for any reason postal communications are interrupted, will you please correct the proofs of my Cantos, now in press at Fabers? Do the best you can, a few misprints in a first edition won’t matter, and better to get the book through the press somehow than to have it hung up indefinitely.
To T. S. Eliot, 21 September
I should prefer a blackout by slugs to a line of dots – but do as you see fit. every word I write is for England[’]s good.
From James Laughlin, 5 December 1939
L/JL 108-10; [in part in] PCH 157
As I told you these next years are going to be bleak for you because of your views and the sentiment against you but I believe in you and I will stick with the ship and see it through to better times. I think when monetary sanity does return to this earth the Cantos will be recognized as an epic of money, of the greatest world importance, in fact, a sort of prophetic monument to the new age… […]
I think antisemitism is contemptible and despicable and I will not put my hand to it. I cannot tell you how it grieves me to see you taking up with it. It is vicious and mean. I do not for one minute believe that it is solely the Jews who are responsible for the maintenance of the unjust monetary systems. They may have their part in it, but it is just as much, and more, the work of Anglo-Saxons and celts and goths and what have you. Now I dare say that will male you mad with me, but there’s how it is. Furthermore, in regard to The Cantos I will not print anything that can be fairly construed as an outright attack on the Jews and I want that in contract in the libel clause. You can take all the potshots at them you want, but no outright attack on the jews as jews.
To James Laughlin, 10 January 1940
YCAL 28/1207; [in part] L/JL 112
yrs/ 5 dec/ Indianapolis just to hand.
I have already writ you. YES. go ahead and get the swag from Farrar.
Simplets [sic] calculation is 10% to me on everything. If you get too stinking rich at that rate you can pay a bonus.
/ Now about jews/ I INVENTED the term aryiokike. I have also used iperebreo in Italian. or the Thyssens etc. / the Yid has NO more right to immunity from criticism than has the godddam brit/ the hun or the murkn.
On opening page I protest against poor yitts paying for Rothschild. Is THAT antisemitism? So far as I know Sherman was aryan. hell rot him/ Wilson was I believe the cheapest scotchirish trash. and I aint started no pogrums/ but I understand WHY they are.
As the jews are quite distinctly in favour of an european war; I dont see that this can be hidden. / the question of WHY? and or gold/silver/nickel is not to be dodged.
I have partic/ pointed out that England’s stopping neutral ships is NOT jewish but England, with the stink of 1812.
and that it is NOT to be blamed on jews.
all right / d’accord / not “solely as jews”. But no immunity SOLELY as jews; solely because jews.
as artists in pathos they DO beat the world’s record.
but also in patience and persistence. Santayana’s sez they allus liked what he said of their heroic materialism.
only whaar you git this stuff about my bein enraged when or whenever I try to CLARIFY or make a plain statement
??? izza mizzery to muh.
Why not get on with 52/71 NOW when they are needed, and let the Faber prose remnants wait?
Note/ my order of interest in getting the stuff printed
is? FIRST, Cantos 52/71
second/ Mencius (ethics of)
then any damn thing you like.
re/ yet again anti/yitt/ Am I anti jap or anti chink because I recognize a racial difference? I agree one shd/ govern all public expression/ PRECISION of speech etc.
desideratum. Napoleon said. O.K. one by one/ dangerous as a race.
History? no capacity to form govts. ... all this is in the record.
also fair crit. of their literature..
which damn it has been put on a stinking pedestal and infected Europe for 1900 years.
It is the damn exaltation of the bleating bible among other things that necessitates a thorough debunking and reestimate.
Word of God/ write by his little hind feet business/ THIS is the cause of trouble.
Forget WHAT I said/ my letters are usually hurried/ Didn’t I ask how far one COULD DISCUSS the jewish PROBLEM.
the PROBLEM exists and can’t be dodged. I am for solving it.
For 20 years I have wanted to discuss usury and money ultra any question of race or politics.
Liveright was O.K. a fighting jew if ever was one. Have I ever crabbed Horace?
To James Laughlin, 11 January 1940
YCAL 28/1207; [in part] L/JL 112
Having had 24 hours to think and now ten minutes free time amid the multiple.
Not going to work meself to death to transmit unless I can also GET what I want to read // also other indications (I wrote 30 or 40 letters) seem to be that the Huns are being intelligent and that any american who wants European news can get at least the German version.
THEY are onto the usury racket at last.
AND all the EUROPEAN neutral countries are publishing at least enough to make amusin reading when quoted in the Italian press.
Anyhow, I shant say anything in Cantos that I wont say to my friend Levi whom I absolve from starting the war and who knows I have absolved him.
The Italian policy recognizes the jew who has been italian actively.
I wish to hell you wd. PRINT 52/71 in time to prevent at least six electors voting for Roosevelt. The American system of govt is worth restoring. I think you will find a kind word for Gallatin in the Jeff/ cantos.
Notes. 1940 was election year in the United States. On 5 November, F. D. Roosevelt won the Electoral College by a the huge margin of 449 to 82 electoral votes. Albert Gallatin was Secretary of the Treasury during the administration of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (1801-1814) and is mentioned in cantos 31 and 34.
To James Laughlin, 18 January 1940
If you want a statement that shd/ satisfy yr/ scruples you can take this over my signature.
I do NOT consider it anti-Semite to WARN the millions of working jews that THEY and NOT the big usurers and monopolists are endangered by the activities of high finance and monopoly.
25 January 1940 - Cantos LII-LXXI is published by Faber in London.
From James Laughlin, 5 February 1940
PCH 152; L/JL 113-4
What about including in the contract, along with the libel section, something like this: “The author further affirms that the book contains no material that could properly be called ‘anti-semitic,’ that is, which treats of the Jews in a propagandistic, as opposed to an artistic, manner.” […] I think that I ought to write a preface, or something, to these new CANTOS, explaining what is what: I mean, linking them up with what has gone before and giving a summary of the earlier ones. You see, the attitude over here is that the CANTOS are incomprehensible.
To Benito Mussolini, 12 February 1940
Zapponi 53; [quoted in English translation in] AC 6
Spero di aver fatto un lavoro utile, almeno nel condensare alcuni fatti storici nei miei CANTOS 52/71.
Il libro è così poco neutro che i miei editori hanno cancellato il nome di Rothschild dalla prima pagina.
[I hope I have done some useful work, especially in condensing some historical facts in my CANTOS 52/71.
The book is so far from being neutral that my editors have cancelled the name Rothschild from the first page.]
To James Laughlin, 24 February 1940
L/JL 114-5; PCH 157
I don’t mind affirming in contract, so long as I’m not expected to alter text. You can put it this way. The author affirms that in no passage shd/ the text be interpreted to mean that he condemns any innocent man or woman for another’s guilt and that no degree of relationship, familial or racial shall be taken to imply such condemnation.
But no group national or ethical can expect immunity not accorded to other groups. . // Damn the word artistic. This poem is HISTORY.
Certainly the crime by whomever is committed, is crime and membership in a race (whatever race) does not free the members of same from censure. I think LII/71 ought to be got out as soon as they can be got off the press / I also think the black out on first two pages, shd. be restored to original as I believe in proofs that Ann Watt[kins] [Pound’s literary agent for the US] has.
Cantos can NOT have a preface IN the book. Cover gives ample space for blurb […]
The new set is NOT incomprehensible. also its sale don’t depend on the immediate condition of pubk/ shitterentality.
Nobody can SUMMARIZE what is already condensed to the absolute LIMIT
I can, on half a page LOCATE the new cantos/ […]
The POINT is that with Cantos 52/71 a NEW thing is plain narrative, with chronological sequence. Read ’em before you go off half-cocked. Write whatever you like but NOT IN the book. Plenty of room in Nude Erections [Annual] … a booklet ON the cantos. thazz O.K. but God damn prefaces IN books. I never, tho’ tempted, putt prefaces in my early vols… again/ in Cantos all institutions are judged on their merits/ idem religions/ no one can be boosted or exempted on grounds of being a Lutheran or a Manichean, nor can all philosophy be degraded to status of propaganda merely because the author has ONE philosophy and not another. Is the Divina Commedia propaganda or NOT?
From 72 on we will enter the empyrean, philosophy/ Geo/ Santayana etc. The pubr/ can NOT expect to control the religion and the philosophy of his authors/ certain evil habits of language etc/ must be weighed / and probably will be found wanting.
I shall NOT accept the specific word anti-semitic in the contract. there will have to be a general formula, covering Mennonites, mohamedans lutherans, Calvinists. I wdn’t swear to not being anti-Calvinist/ but that don’t mean I shd/ weigh protestants in one balance and anglo/ cats in another. ALL ideas coming from the near east are probably shit / if they turn out to be typhus in the laboratory, so is it. So is Taoism / so is probably ALL Chinese philos; and religion except Kung // I am not yet sure.
To Carlo Izzo, 4 May 1940, Rome
L/CI 273-4; Bacigalupo, 99
I think ALSO that we cd/ get a bilingual version of these Cantos printed here [Rome]. You are my best translator.
What I shd like is an article starting from my definition. An epic is a poem CONTAINING history.
10 May – Germany invades France.
10 May 1940 – Winston Churchill is appointed Prime Minister.
From Carlo Izzo, 15 May 1940
thank you for your praises, but in case you want me to do longer work must be prepared to help and help and help me. should like to translate from page 12 “know then” to page 15 “by his imposts” but don’t know anything about chinese emperors.
To James Laughlin, 9 June 1940
Waaal go to it and print and REMIT.
About that there modus vivendi. You can quote me to this effect. I have nothing against jews in general. All I want is to cut the liver and lights out of thirty or 40 big jews who makes wars and cause famines.
AND the process whereby they, and their cronies who are the filt[h], the utter shit of the aryan race, do this has got to be KNOWN. It has got to be part of the common school education, so that before much longer these finance buggars will be killed off on sight like vipers.
Mebbe 30 or 40 is too low an estimate, but the process/ the gold hoax and the renting of national credit FROM shits, has got to be taught.
The possum states he has been readin my econ/ essays with suprise and approbation. Yr last beahrs th dat/ of AP/ 27.
10 June 1940 – Italy declares war on France and Britain. Germany takes Paris on 14 June.
July 1940–May 1941 – Battle of Britain.
To James Laughlin, 24 July 1940
Dr Jas/ YAS; go on paying money, the more the quicker direct into Jenkintown Bank and Trust Co., Jenkintown Pa. to my account. Though you might also WHEN PASSING their door, ask American Express Co if they will take yr/ money and pay me here/ AT 23 24 lire the dollar/ if they can’t get the extra legal 2P%; t[hen], go on with the Jenkintown bank.
I aint PARTED company with Ann/ she done left me cause I said England wd/ lose the war or something. Amyhow, I never did see why a agent wuz necessary between us, ONCE you git the habit of payin me on time. / letters recd/ today via ordinary post/ dated any time from May 24 to June 24. so go ahead and git out the Cantos and send me the contract here, in due time. whether via Portugal or Japan/ no need to spend five bucks sending it air mail.
You thought we ought to have Ann or a naygent, cause otherwise YOU wd:nt feel like a businesslike publisher. waaal, waaaaal;
From James Laughlin, 4 August 1940
YCAL 4 August 1940
Cyantos is hon the press now. Wot was in them places where they put hin plack lines in Febrz? If you send me along those immortal voids by return hairpost we might manage to slip them instead of the nigsticks.
We are getting ahead with the little pamphlet about the CANTOS. I am stressing the money angle and ponting out that the present turn of heckognomix in Yurrup puts you rather solid on yr feet as to a moral structure as basis of heppik poem. Right?
Say, I howes you a little bit of money. Do you want this send to you. If so, how would that be done. Wuddn the brixshits just swipe it at Barmuda? Haven’t you a bank here whr cd deposit same. Lemme know. It hain’t much – 30 bucks or so – unless you would like now an hadvance on new cantyers.???
Note. Although Laughlin was scared in advance that the new cantos were antisemitic, he had not read the incriminating lines in canto 52 by this time. He was working on the basis of the Faber edition which had blacked out the problematic lines (what he calles the "nigsticks").
To Dorothy Pound, 15 August 1940
no use holding up Cantos for those lines.–& no use in saying STink etc. in U.S. either Hank or Will Rothschild–anyhow
To Dorothy Pound, 16 August 1940
I think ref enc. the fact of cancellation more interestin’ in view of subsequents than the text.
September 1940. American edition of Cantos LII-LXXII is published in New York.
“The bars, however, remained, although in 1948, when resetting the text for the first collected Cantos, Laughlin again inquired about removing them. Pound wanted them kept. In March 1963, the issue reappeared when Laughlin wrote to Mary de Rachewiltz suggesting that the blackouts be removed and the original text restored, ‘provided that it does not appear so objectionable as it must have then, and that Mr Gleason does not consider it dangerous from any legal point of view.’ ‘The trouble is,’ he adds, ‘that I cant remember what the lines were that we deleted! It is the same way in the London edition, so that is no help.’ Here, what had been done to a text had been forgotten, confirming a stage in the socialization of the work. In 1984 Laughlin suggested to Mary de Rachewiltz that it was perhaps time to take them out, and the original lines were restored for the tenth printing of the complete text in 1986, having orginally appeared in the Faber bound page proof dated 13 October 1939 now at the Beinecke Library.” (PCH 157)
From Achilles Fang, 12 January 1951
Dear Mr. Pound,
By the way, your interpretation of 止 seems to solve a number of knotty problems in Kung’s book. I’ve been looking through commentaries, but so far failed to come across any that lays emphasis on that term. Please accept my congratulations. I shall not fail to expand on this aspect of Your Confucianism.