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


1. 'Not the Doctrine of a Grown-up Person':

Writing this article in fits and starts, I switch on the nine o'clock news: it reports the fortieth anniversary of the liberation of prisoners from Auschwitz-Birkenau. Survivors have returned to the camp, hoping to provoke more interest in the search for Mengele, the ghoulish doctor who is thought on good evidence to be still living in Paraguay. Disconcerted, I pick up the Cambridge student newspaper, Stop Press, and the lead story is an exposure of extreme right wing politics among the undergraduates. From a college 'Newsletter': 'The genius of the island race, sprung from the stock of the magnificent Northern peoples, can only flourish fully and freely in an environment with a strong element of homogeneity in its most basic cultural assumptions' (25 January 1985). These implicitly racist sentiments are not very far removed from the kind of rhetoric which I have been reading - with difficulty - in Ezra Pound's broadcasts, made from Rome in the middle of the Second World War. It is a language of market gardeners, who weigh and consider the 'purity' of the 'stock' of any 'race', and who fear the 'contamination' of their 'land' by some 'invisible silent virus, more deadly than syphilis' (all Poundian terminology), and is immediately unsettling because it is applied to human materials. It was exactly this kind of racial cultus which Pound admired in Mussolini:

If you don't believe that Jefferson was activated by ...

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