Typed Letter Signed on personalized stationery with holograph corrections in pencil and text encircled and signed in pencil, 4to on personalized stationery, Rapallo, July 23, n.y. [ca 1932-33]
by POUND, EZRA
Pound begins this brief letter with a reference about his opera and makes a significant comment on two notorious trials, the Scottsboro Boys trial and on the Mooney case. The newspaper he references is "The Chicago Tribune." Pound writes, "Private" at the top of the page and continues. "Thanks for boost of the Villon. I enc/ a few words re/ this a/m editorial. The Mooney case is different...Mooney probably very tiresome character but still.....not a case primarily against capital. About the black boys // are"unt [holograph apostrophe] it knowd that the two ladies were [holograph cross out] boxcar whores who declined to accuse the black boys until they had been talked to by the POlice [sic] ??? I don't [holograph apostrophe] think I have got any prejudice either way; but have an interest in facts...." Signed in large initials, "EP." The letter shows a rust stain from a paper clip, center fold crease and mild soiling from normal aging. It is possible that Pound writes to Wambly Bald. Bald was the literary columnist of the Paris edition during this time. In Pound/Joyce: The Letters of Ezra Pound to James Joyce, by Ezra Pound , mention is given to the paper being "one of Pound's forums for letters to the editor." This suggests that perhaps the editor to whom Pound writes is Wambly Bald. In addition, Bald had promoted Pound's opera, Le Testament de Villon, in an earlier issue of the paper, as he thanks his correspondent here for the "boost of the Villon." Pound wrote his first opera, Le Testament de Villon, in 1919, but it was not performed until 1931 when it was transmitted as a radio opera. The first complete premier was on BBC Radio in 1933. According to slippeddisccom, the opera was written as a "revolt against musical impressionism." Based on this information, the reference to the opera suggests Pound wrote the letter circa 1932-33. Pound refers to the trial of Thomas Mooney (1882 -1942), an American political activist and labor leader, who was convicted with Warren K. Billings for the San Francisco Preparedness Day Bombing of 1916. It was widely believed that he was wrongly convicted of a crime he did not commit and condemned to death. In 1918 Pres. Wilson commuted his death sentence to life in prison. Mooney served 22 years in before finally being pardoned in 1939. Pound's remarks about the Scottsboro Boys and his interest in the truth makes this brief letter particularly interesting. Protests and fundraising efforts on behalf of the Scottsboro Boys took place in the early 1930s. Writers and intellectuals signed an appeal in the spring of 1933 and included signatures of Ezra and Dorothy Pound with a note by Ezra Pound, "I not only protest, but if this sort of judicial sanction of murder and frame-up continues I shd. Be disposed to advocate direct action. We have had enough criminals in high office already. A state even a state sanely founded can not indefinitely continue if it condones and sanctions legal murder of innocent men." [The Scottsboro Boys in Their Own Words: Selected Letters 1931-1950," edited by Kwando M. Kinshasa.]. Pound contributed many letters and articles to the Paris edition (formally, the European Edition) of "The Chicago Tribune." The paper was one the American expatriates read. It ran from 1917 when it began, started by the editor and publisher Col. Robert R. McCormick, as an Army Edition and after the war continued until 1934. McCormick decided to continue it after the war because it was fostering new art and literary movements and the numbers of Americans in Paris began to increase. In the '20s there were three American papers, but according to the National Journal of Literature and Discussion (vqronline.org), The Tribune's" Paris edition was "the liveliest of the three.". (Inventory #: 4293)
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