Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Himself a Socialist and a Jew, Bernard Kops dramatized in Ezra the postwar mental processes of American poet Ezra Pound, the fascist and anti-Semite whose radio broadcasts supporting Mussolini and attacking Franklin Delano Roosevelt (whom he dubbed “Jewsevelt”) caused his arrest for treason when Allied forces occupied Italy. Kops set out to dramatize the actions of a great poet whose ideas appalled him. An admirer of Pound’s beautiful and original poetry, Kops nevertheless was horrified at the virulently anti-Semitic tirades Pound broadcast to American troops during World War II. Kops’s attempt to reconcile the poet’s genius with the man’s reprehensible political views produced the paradox embodied in Ezra.

Kops’s Ezra is childlike, naïve, unwilling or unable to concentrate on his interrogators’ questions or to confront the gravity of the charges against him. Deluded about fascism’s intentions and evidently ignorant of its effects—that is, of the Holocaust—Kops’s Ezra has attacked the Jews out of muddled ideas about international economics derived in part from the Nazis but as well from an upbringing quite segregated from any Jew who might have prepared him for a more realistic appraisal of anti-Semitic propaganda.

As depicted in the play, in his later years Ezra seems not merely duped but also somewhat demented, a creative artist increasingly living within his own brain. Paradoxically, this man of...

(The entire section is 541 words.)