The Correspondence of Ezra Pound and E.E. Cummings
Barry Ahearn, Editor
Collects all of the letters from this important friendship in the history of modern poetry.


Ezra Pound and E. E. Cummings carried on a long and varied correspondence from the 1920s until Cummings's death in 1962. This volume collects all of the important letters from this important friendship in the history of modern poetry.

Throughout the correspondence both poets reveal themselves and their beliefs to a remarkable degree. Pound entrusted to Cummings details of his political outlook in the 1930s and 1940s, including his opinions about Mussolini's Italy. The letters to Cummings also shed new light on the question of Pound's sanity after World War II. Although he was diagnosed as mentally unfit, the letters generally show no evidence of paranoia, only of his characteristic eccentricity.

Similarly, these letters should provoke a reevaluation of Cummings. Critics have treated Cummings's political views as either strictly private matters or merely incidental to his art. The letters, however, show that Cummings's radically conservative political opinions are wholly consistent with his poetics, and raise the question of the relation between Cummings's political principles and his enthusiasm for particular forms (and particular stars) of mass entertainment.

In addition to their political revelations, the letters are steeped in the literary climate--and literary gossip--of the times. Pound comments often and candidly on Cummings's poetry and prose; both Pound and Cummings send light verse to each other. And the poets exchange anecdotes about such figures as Henry James, Wyndham Lewis, T. S. Eliot, Edmund Grosse, Max Eastman, and Aldous Huxley, among other writers.

There is much here to interest and delight both fans and foes of Pound and Cummings. The book will be of primary importance to students and scholars of modern poetry, especially those who emphasize the intersection of literary works and political history.

Barry Ahearn is Associate Professor of English, Tulane University.

Praise / Awards

  • "Ezra Pound' s letters are as lovable as anchovies. Yet there are some who don' t like them. . . . Barry Ahearn of Tulane has done a fine job of editing these letters. . . . [Those] who take the trouble to get a copy will be amply rewarded for the closer view it affords of the two poets."
    --Boston Book Review
  • "Those interested in Ezra Pound during the years between 1926 and 1961 will find no single book of greater help than this exchange of witty and somewhat esoteric letters, which provide an account of the men's interests, especially economic, and how they interrelate."
    --B. Quinn, Choice
  • "Ahearn's annotations are usually thorough and informative; a great deal of research has gone into producing this edition, and scholars will find it a good place to pursue leads or confirm suspicions. But above all else, this correspondence is a chronicle of an important and long-lasting literary friendship, one that 'brought together not only the two poets, but their loved ones as well.' The dynamics of that relationship as recorded in Pound's and Cummings's idiosyncratic, inventive, and sometimes scatological prose are interesting enough to warrant sustained reading. These letters are often illuminating, troubling, and entertaining."
    --English Literature in Transition 1880-1920
  • "[Ahearn] has done a masterful job of putting together these letters, and the job of culling them must have been daunting. In his annotations, he has hunted down information about almost every book and author mentioned by Pound or Cummings, and provides information on the edition used by each writer. Furthermore, when either correspondent mentions a passage in a book or article Ahearn has helpfully reprinted the passage in question. . . [T]his is a model of responsible editorship, and we should be grateful for the insights it gives us into Pound's personality and preoccupations."
    --Greg Barnhisel, Paideuma , Fall and Winter 1999
  • ". . . [a] remarkably well-preserved and well-edited collection of their letters."
    --Times Literary Supplement

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 442pp.
  • drawings.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1996
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10298-3

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  • $99.95 U.S.