Pound/Williams Essay - Critical Essays

Pound/Williams

This edition contains 169 letters from the surviving 535 pieces of correspondence written between Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams from 1907 to 1963. The chosen letters emphasize literary matters and important personal events, including the poets’ criticism of each other’s work, comments on contemporary art and culture, and discussions of literary trends.

The letters provide a useful insight into the literary development of Pound and Williams and their often quarrelsome relationship, revealing much about the influence on, and composition of, their respective verse as well as twentieth century English-language poetry and criticism in general. As major spokesmen for the Imagist school and later literary movements, Pound’s and Williams’ influential poetic doctrines, reflected in their often brutally honest letters, are illuminating in the context of their friendship, the vitality of their intellectual life, and their contributions to Anglo- American literature.

While some material has appeared previously, this edition provides a wealth of new explanatory and biographical notes throughout the text and as appendices, adding background, context, and continuity. Witemeyer’s texts are more reliable than previous publications, and he provides readers with lists of sources should they wish to consult the original manuscripts.

This volume is an indispensable addition to the ongoing New Directions series of primary and critical works on Pound and Williams, particularly the volumes of Pound’s correspondence with other literary figures, and is an important contribution to studies of twentieth century verse as a whole. The careful attention to scholarly accuracy, the focus on literature, and the depth of the notes and other research aids make this volume useful for all students of modern literature.

Sources for Further Study

Kirkus Reviews. LXIV, January 15, 1996, p. 119.

Library Journal. CXXI, March 15, 1996, p. 71.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. March 31, 1996, p. 2.

San Francisco Chronicle. June 2, 1996, p. REV6.