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This article is taken from PN Review 15, Volume 7 Number 1, September - October 1980.

Adrian Stokes and Ezra Pound Paul Smith

The history of Adrian Stokes's involvement with Ezra Pound and the convergence and subsequent divergence of their ideas is of a little more interest than Richard Wollheim's footnote in The Image in Form can acknowledge; in particular, the elements of Stokes's thinking which legislate the divergence of the two men need to be remarked, not only for what they indicate about Stokes's development as a writer and Pound's lack of development from the days of their friendship in the twenties, but for what they can suggest about the intellectual currents of the inter-war years. If in this short piece I concentrate on some of the divergences it is partly because Donald Davie, in Ezra Pound: Poet as Sculptor, has confronted some of the many areas of similarity in their early works.

Pound and Stokes seem to have been brought together by a shared esteem for Sigismondo Malatesta and, although each emphasizes different aspects of the condottiere's personality, both tend to justify his sometimes excessive and violent martial exploits by the fact that he instigated the building of the Tempio at Rimini. He is seen by both as the authentic Humanist in the way 'he was compelled to objectify his energy' (CWS, I, p. 20) in this monumental tomb to his wife Isotta. Stokes lays emphasis on the urgency of this gesture and so draws attention to the pent-up energy involved. Both he and Pound refer Sigismondo's activeness to the vapid pusillanimity and flabbiness of Pope Pius II, ...


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