American writers in Italy; 6
And I resent American writers in it leading a series of programs especially produced in Rome for this radio station. Program six from Bernard Berenson to as proposed. And along with the poets the painters sculptors and the art collectors who came to Italy. Yet another category of American has entered into a complex relationship with the country more or less by accident. These were the thousands of young American soldiers who came to this land of Italy for no reason other than duty to their
country and to the free world. They knew where the beaches of Sicily before they were ever aware of the architectural beauties of Palermo. They were acquainted with the Bay of N.C.O. before discovering Rome and with the hills of Monte Cassino. Before setting foot in Florence. Let us imagine one of these soldiers tuning to a fascist broadcast from radio Roma during the Second World War to listen to and probably out of pure curiosity. The program that was then being beamed to
the Allied troops. You win a war what impression did it make on him unpleasantly. Probably a good or a thought an impression mixed with both astonishment in the West and indignation. After all it was astonishing because the voice he heard had no trace of the vulgar ranting of a paid propagandist. Well it was a bit strained. It sounded like they were boys of a well informed and cultivated man. Has this produced indignation at the obvious intellectual arrogance of this man trying to reverse the very values in which they so don't believe what he was fighting with. And in defense of which he was risking his life after years of robbing the country dipping into the trash years of farting at the mouth of a muscle leaving him in the middle of January. Roosevelt comes up with a discourse on every single item and not as a trace of sanity and it is imitated from muscly or from him. After 20 years of
Judaic propaganda and Lenin and Trotsky still crowding American history out of the schools while inferiority hate against your hero Delano comes up with a mixed bag in which two thirds of the program is fascist when of course the essential part missing carrying are suppositional a bit further. These clues assume that this young American soldier out front has reached a certain level of higher education and that he is moreover intellectually curious. So what would he have been thinking under these circumstances. First in all probability he would have noticed that the owner of the voice was most certainly our fellow American. Speaking from rolls the other side of the battle lines. It would also have been evident to a Lee soldier from around the cavalry of the speaker and from the allusions he was making given from the very level of his argument mostly that the person broadcasting our nation was a man of considerable
refinement. He was an American ex-patriot the soldier would certainly have concluded with all probability had turned against his own country. The young soldier is accustomed to thinking of American expatriates in Italy a bit differently than the man on the radio to the soldiers of these expatriates are a little nutty looking a little prone to ingenuous enthusiasms and ready to populate the countryside with bandits as Washington Irving did all with bravos in the manner of James Fenimore Cooper or with primitive forms such as Nathaniel Hawthorne's Donna Tello or even with an aristocratic Dawn Quine's as in ridge Ames was wont to do. But each of these authors had at least been trying to construct a more balanced relationship with his own country through his Italian experience.
This man instead and the young soldier continues to listen so that he might catch his name in this highly cultivated and well-read man appears to feel a bitter and acrid hatred for the United States the United States has been for months. I'm no legal eve of war. I consider to be the criminal acts of a president whose mental condition was not as far as I can see. All that could or should be desired on my own and so responsible a position or office funny United States to be making more on Italy and on Europe is just plain damn nonsense. And every native born American American stocks know that it is playing down my damn nonsense. And from this state of things Franklin Roosevelt is more than any other one responsible. This is surely not a very pleasant welcome to an American. Arriving in Italy with a head full of Irving and Cooper and hawthorns and James or Churchill was more recent right as a soldier might have been thinking of Francis
Marion Crawford Edith Wharton or the fabulous expert on Italian Renaissance art by Bernard Berenson. The soldier listening to the radio Roma may have come to Italy with an impression of the country already formed by friends as Marion Crawford's Saturday Niska a passionate love story of Italian high society written in eighteen eight to seven. Crawford was a most singular cosmopolitan man who knew Italy well. He had lived in Italy and travelled across it on foot. Critic Van Wyck Brooks wrote of these journeys by Crawford. As a boy with his tutor on a walking tour he had seen every inch of the region where he was to place the castle of such an escape. And later when I want to be at work for the wild parts of Calabria where it was not safe to go alone. At another time he spent a month in the Abroad Simone's working with the peasants to study their ways. He had seen in the mountains the grand old castles with their grey
round keeps their dungeons Wells dark cellars and trap doors and their vast halls and gardens as large as churches. He had visited gloomy monasteries where life had not changed in a thousand years. And it was familiar with Cicely. Crawford was convinced that only those new Italy who had put it on foot and ridden by mountain pass through hill and valley gorge and plain. Where there are no highways. And no in. With these materials gathered at first hand. Crawford put all his novels of the satin Isco series together. Most of which were popular until a few decades ago. These were sent the latter you don't want to see you know. And Corleone novels full of chivalry and adventure in which honesty is rewarded and honor is always triumphant.
Eh eh. Were. We are. I'm like Francis Marion Crawford the strident voice from radio Roma to which I sold her a still listening urge is nothing but dishonesty and dishonor every hour that you go on with this war is an hour lost to you and your children and every sane act you commit is committed in homage to muscly neon Hitler. They are your leaders. However much you think you were conducted by Roosevelt or by Churchill. Who is this American. It's a speech goes on and on and there is no interruption from the announcer to identify him as he hears these things. Our well-read soldier might possibly be thinking of some of the others who had prepared him for quite a different sort of first encounter with Italy.
He might be thinking for example of Edith Wharton. Even Wharton the author Ethan Frome loved Italy so much that she came to Italy once a year to get the material. This she used in her books. The valley decision and Italian backgrounds as well as Italian villas and their gardens which is still the best guide ever written on the subject. And certainly the soldier wishes he had come to Italy on one of those leisure least steamships flying get landed not on a troop ship. And wishes he could have seen Italy then from the saddle of a bicycle. As Edith Wharton did in those days also it was possible to climb the hills around Florence on a bicycle to visit the. Brown eyed barren zones villa. Berenson who had come to Italy to guide millionaire Americans in choosing masterpieces for their collections. Eventually became the greatest of the world students of flour and dine art.
Berenson had said that the effect and the very function of art was to humanize that monstrous POLYP MAN IN THE LUMP. He had shown how the tactile value was of a picture have in his words a life enchanting effect which veterans and then went on to explain. Now let me say that by a life in Champ and I. Mean Id ated identification of ourselves with a person. He. Id ated participation in an action. The idea did plunging into a state of being our state of mind. That makes one feel more hopefully more that fully alive living more intense more radiant a life not only physically. But morally and spiritually as well. Reaching out to the top most peak of our capacity. Contented with no satisfaction lower than the highest list definition
by Bernard Berenson is the scope also of literature. Who could explain therefore this obviously literary man speaking on the fascist radio. How is it possible for a man of culture aspirants to stoop to such fascist bold guarantors. You are not going to win this war. None of our best minds ever thought you could win. You have never had a chance in this war. What are you doing in the war and our every day of war as a dad day as well as a death and more death for future servitude less and less American liberty of any variety. And now the announcer only Italian radio comes on at last. Radio Roma following the tradition of Italian hospitality has offered a doctor as a clown the use of the microphone twice a week. It is understood that he will not be asked to say anything whatsoever that goes
against his conscience or anything incompatible with his duties as a citizen of the United States. Israel pounds an American a poet and a literary critic was as T.S. Eliot had called him. You mean your Fabbro the better creator. OB modern poetry to his young listeners in uniform lb now appeared just as he appeared to the American intellectuals of the time. They were shocked by the extraordinary behavior of this man who had turned on his country and supported fascism at the very moment when he talian intellectuals were showing their faith in American democracy by publishing an American anthology which the Italian Fascist censor promptly banned. It becomes a matter of interest to know how such an actor's pounds could have
happened. Was it an accident or was it a personal defamation of character or was it some sort of a more general cultural failure. A more close look at the man might be revealing. Is round was born in Idaho in 1885 while still a young man he became known for his vacillating character and for his Vancity of mind. For his bizarre habits and for his intellectual quickness. Will bash college where he was teaching politely asked him to leave because he was as the college judged. I let him quote it type. He moved on to London where he acquired a poetic definition of sorts as a
constructive iconoclast. In time he became a literary figure of note and a close friend of another American expatriate T.S. Elliot. Who recorded his impressions of LB. LB was living in a small dark flat in Kensington but he seemed always to be a temporary squatter. Because appearance was due not only to his restless energy in which it was difficult to distinguish the energy from the restlessness and fidgets so that every room even a big one seemed too small for him but also to a kind of resistance against growing into any environment. In America he would no doubt have always seemed on the point of going abroad. In London he seemed always on the point of crossing the Channel. I have never known a man of any nationality to live so long out of his native country without seeming to settle anywhere else. This energy in display by pound he directed into the writing of poetry
to the study of the Chinese language with which he had become fascinated and in which he developed a reasonable proficiency and into the creation of a theory of poetry. Pound had been captured by the language of music and by the subtle schemes of tonal relationship which comprise it. This was the basis of his theory and it was incorporated into the advice he gave to the aspiring poet. The poet should fill his mind with the finest cadences he can discover preferably in a foreign language so that the meaning of the words may be less likely to divert his attention from the movement. For example Saxon charms Hebridean folk songs the verse of Dante and the lyrics of Shakespeare. If you can disassociate the vocabulary from the cadence pound not only gave the advice he acted upon it himself and eventually became a dedicated student of words. This activity and his attempts to
guide other poets favorably impressed his friend T.S. Eliot who eventually wrote about it. His greatest contribution to the work of other poets is his insistence upon the immensity of the amount of conscious labor to be performed by the poet and his invaluable suggestions for the kind of training the poet should give himself. Study of form metric and vocabulary in the poetry of diverse literature and a study of good prose. From London Ezra Pound went to Paris where he was one of the amorphous Left Bank intellectual group of the James Joyce and Gertrude Stein era. And in the middle twenties he went door Apollo in Italy there of the 1929 Depression set some strange economic theories percolating through his mind that would lead him astray. His reply down could not understand why millions a person should be suffering from hunger. When the machines which could clothe and feed them were left gathering dust his perplexity was
understandable enough. But the answers to the problem which he stumbled upon in the books of the German economist Silvio Gesell and which pound adopted religiously as his own were absurd. No economist in Europe took it so seriously. But Ezra Pound most certainly did. And pound translated this incoherent babble into a poetically vital idea. Is idea was that the source of vice in men is usury. This in turn recalls medieval theology and the petulant indignation of dandy. And the fact is that the verses which LB wrote in the prison camp at Pisa where the Americans held him on charges of treason and which subsequently became known as the PSN cantos. Do indeed carry a reminder of dandy.
When he was here with you sure I have no man a house of good stuff. Each block got smooth and well-fitting that design might cover their face with usurer hath no man a painted paradise on his church wall properties at looters or where virgin receive message and Halo projects from incision with USUA see if no man Gonzaga his heir and his concubines. No picture is made to endure nor to live with but is made to sell and to sell quickly with you is your sin against nature is like bread evermore of stale rags bread dry as paid with no mountain wheat no Strongs lamb. With the usual lying grows thick. With usual there's no clear demarcation. And no man can find site for his dwelling stonecutter is kept from his stone.
Weaver is kept from his loom. With user who comes not to the market. Sheep bring of no game user. Usurer is a mere ane user a blunt of the needle in the maid's hand and stop the spenders can. Be a true Lombardo came not by usury. To Chio came not by use it or not Via della Francesca. God with all this however one hardly understands why a crank brained economic theory which found
himself elaborated should lead him to fascism at this point. It appears we are again in the presence of the old literary tourist deforming reality in order better to see in Italy a dream of Arcadia. A rustic paradise free from Heidi economic laws in this Arcadia. The sheep graze happy to give one to the shepherd Springs run fresh and clear and the trees are in blossom all yellow. It was a defamation of reality that every American writer who came to Italy encouraged at least in part although he vigorously corrected his misconceptions once he understood them. In Ezra Pound the defamation worked unconsciously and had very profound depths. Pounds fellow countrymen However one not concerned with this problem.
On a military plane carried Ezra Pound back to the United States where he was kept in jail in the District of Columbia waiting for the law to take its course. This impending trial aroused enormous interest and predictably people took conflicting positions. It became clear that it would be difficult to try a man who was at once personally sympathetic and pathetically ingenuous psychiatric specialists were called in from Santa Elizabeth's Hospital at the request of Judge Bolitho J law's chief justice of the United States District Court at Washington D.C. on the 14th of December in 1945. The psychiatrist delivered their opinion to the court. The defendant exhibits extremely poor judgment as to his situation its
seriousness and the manner in which the charges are to be met. He insists that his broadcasts were not treating a book but that all of his radio activities have stemmed from his self-appointed mission to save the Constitution. He then normally grandiose is expansive and exuberant and matter exhibiting pressure of speech discursiveness and distractibility. In our opinion. He is an insane and mentally unfit for trial. It is a need of care in a mental hospital. The court accepted the specialist recommendation and directed that Ezra Pound be
interned in a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. There he remained until his release 13 years later when he returned immediately to Italy. Confinement in a mental hospital did not actually close the case. The controversy continued sharp disagreement came to the surface in the early months of 1949 when with pounds still committed the Library of Congress Committee of eminent poets granted to pound the ball into an award
and precisely all those P's and Cantos which he had written in the military prison in Italy. One of the members of the awards committee was pounds old friend TS Eliot. In the new disputes that followed the announcement of the prize my own supporters and detractors took up their diametrically opposed positions. The intellectuals gathered round innumerable round tables to join to the case and more important to try to show how it was possible to reconcile fascism with excellent poetry the Saturday Review of literature was especially Serbia with LB while the poet Archibald MacLeish was going in a must to throw light on these contrasting opinions. Mike Lee should pose any mention or a dialogue between a certain Mr sanity and a certain Mr. Bonnington Mr. Ballenger emerge the victor using as his premise that the poetry of done today is still admired even though there is
no longer agreement with his philosophical and theological ideas. Similarly the poetry of Ezra Pound and continue to be treasured. While there is total disagreement with his political theories or a lawyer or her Ira this is concluded the sixth in our series of programmes on American authors and their relationship to Italy programs especially produced in Rome for this radio station. This 6 programme was titled from Bernard Berenson to as rip. The music on this program included excerpts from the works of do you know that I speak the
- American writers in Italy
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Identifier: 69-34-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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