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This review is taken from PN Review 147, Volume 29 Number 1, September - October 2002.

WHOM THOU LOVEST WELL ANNE CONOVER, Olga Rudge and Ezra Pound: 'What thou lovest well...' (Yale) £25

Writing with access to Olga Rudge in her last years, the abundant OR-EP correspondence and Rudge family papers, and the 'I Ching notebook' kept by Olga during the last decade of Pound's life, Anne Conover portrays a lifelong bond while also writing a life. The stance is close-in, the atmosphere vivid and circumstantial (feminine in the best sense), and the sequence mostly by calendar and clock. An unstated theme becomes the ethos of artists who declared their individual sovereignty in Western societies during a century of mass movements and total war. This indomitable, thoroughly admirable woman, gifted musician and loyal partner to Pound, did it her own way (as the song played at one of her last birthdays has it) and died at 101.

The blemishes? A vexing omission of year-dates within chapters, and of the occupation of Rudge's father John, a Youngstown, Ohio businessman who supported his wife and three children abroad as well as Olga's performance career. Largely omitted, too, though itineraries of relationship abound, is the itinerarium mentis of each main partner. To be sure, in this way Conover prevents the waves made by Pound's career from swamping her narrative. By staying with the calendar, Conover tracks Miss Rudge's career as a violin recitalist and pioneer restorer of Vivaldi's work while showing that Olga's devotion to Pound (who often flubbed or deferred initiative towards her) both enriched and hampered the realisation of her gifts. A major performance career slowly exits the weave, one strand ...

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