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This review is taken from PN Review 46, Volume 12 Number 2, November - December 1985.


The Kettle's Yard exhibition 'Pound's Artists', organized to coincide with the Cambridge Poetry Festival, will contain exhibits illustrating Ezra Pound's involvement with the visual arts in London, Paris, and Italy.

Ezra Pound's views on the visual arts are significant both for what they were, and for how he held them. The habits of mind he brought to describing and defending them represent specific values as much as do the views themselves. He made comparisons which see art as representative of political and economic conditions; but he also made others which regarded the political leader as a type of the artist. This is achieved by an impassioned combination of sharp discriminations and broad analogies not only between the different arts, but also between diverse cultures and epochs. I have felt perplexed by the severity of the discriminations and seeming illimitability of the analogical associations. What Pound attributed to Italian quattrocento painting and how he advanced his preferences at the expense of other styles is my subject here; but I will also look at how his thinking with analogies contributed to an idealized view of Benito Mussolini, and how, in turn, that idealization could influence his thinking about the nature of the poet at work.

Reviewing Adrien Stokes's The Quattro Cento in The Criterion, Kenneth Clark notes a danger in passionate art criticism: 'But how hard it is to discriminate without seeming to condemn - no doubt because love is blind.' Ezra Pound, ...

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