January 19, 2012

LESSONS IN SPIN: Ezra Pound’s daughter says he wasn’t a fascist or anti-Semitic, he was just an incredibly shallow trend-follower


Ezra Pound giving the fascist salute upon his return to Italy after being released from a 12 year sentence in a US mental institution, where he'd been sent after his trial for treason

The 86-year-old daughter of Ezra Pound has launched a legal action to force an Italian fascist group that has named itself after her father to change its name.

According to a Guardian report, Mary De Rachewiltz, who still lives in the remote Italian Castle where her father wrote his Cantos, has now ”accelerated her efforts” against the group, the CasaPound, after a sympathizer of the group went on “a bloody shooting spree through Florence’s ancient piazzas” last December, and “shot dead two Senegalese street traders and wounded three others before turning the gun on himself.”

“The fascists want to claim Pound, but they have nothing to do with Pound,” she tells the Guardian. “They are a nuisance and there has to be something I can do to stop them.”

Thankfully, Guardian reporter Tom Kington does mention to De Rachewiltz that her father was, after all, famous for his pro-Mussolini, anti-Semitic broadcasts during World War II, calling on America to get out of the war, and was indicted for treason as a result, then declared insane and institutionalized for 12 years. “Pound just quoted what Mussolini said,” she tells him. “He made mistakes and we have to take the good part of him, just as he did with others. He fell into certain antisemitic clichés that were rampant in Europe and the US at the time.”

But in another Guardian report by Kington, the leader of the CasaPound, Simone di Stefano, points out that the murderer was not a member of the organization. “We are very sorry about this. She doesn’t really know about us. We are not racist or violent,” he tells Kington. “We would like to resolve this out of the courts — Pound is not a trademark and anyone can refer to his ideas.”

De Rachewiltz refuses to meet with them, however. “I do not want to meet them,” she says. “If he was here, Pound would say they need to go back to kindergarten.”

Well, as Jessa Crispin observes in a post at Bookslut, “when you’re Pound’s daughter, who did not treat her especially well and is as reviled as he is revered, what else can you do? Probably the only two choices at that point are to think your father is a saint or your father is the devil. She wants to save his reputation, and that’s fine, but maybe news stories should stop asking the daughter of the man for perspective?”


Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.