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© Canadian Review of American Studies/Revue canadienne d’études américaines 31, no. 1, 2001 The Price of Publishing Modernism: Ezra Pound and the Exile in America Craig Monk When Ezra Pound began his association with the little magazine Poetry in 1912, he wrote to tell its editor, Harriet Monroe, that her plan for a publication “seems not only sound, but the only possible method. There is no other magazine in America which is not an insult to the serious artist and to the dignity of his art” (Paige 43– 44). Published in Chicago, Poetry was a death knell for the genteel literary pretensions of high-circulation magazines in the United States. But while Pound suggested to Monroe that it was not “any of the artist’s business whether or not he circulates,” he confessed that he too had been “nevertheless tempted, on the verge of starting a quarterly” (43–44). By this time, of course, the poet was well established in Europe, and over the subsequent decade he would rely heavily upon magazines like Blast, the Dial, the Egoist, the English Review, the Little Review, and the New Age to print his work. But it would be fifteen years before Pound edited his own magazine: four numbers of the Exile appeared between the spring of 1927 and the autumn of 1928 while the poet lived in Rapallo, Italy. The record of this publication, found among the manuscript collections of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, and the Beinecke Library, Yale University,1 underlines not only the difficulties associated with independent publishing in the first half of the twentieth century but also many of the broader issues surrounding the dissemination of the works of expatriate American writers in the period between the world wars. Pound began the Exile with virtually no seed money, in the shadow of commercial publishers who still doubted that a profit could be made from printing more experimental, modern texts. With the help of his American representative, John Price, Pound brought forward a number of his own works in the Exile, as well as the works of Morley Callaghan, Ralph Cheever Dunning, Ernest Hemingway, Robert McAlmon, John Rodker, William Carlos Williams, W.B. Yeats, and Louis Zukofsky. Pound’s enterprise with Price, however, best illustrates the extent to which texts that would become cornerstones of modernism were imperilled by the pecuniary concerns of printing and Canadian Review of American Studies 31 (2001) 430 shipping and the restrictions imposed by customs and copyright regulations in the United States. While studies of expatriate American writers are concerned in the broadest sense with lives lived abroad, too little attention has been paid to the specific details of the publishing practices of these individuals. Donald Pizer understands expatriation as “the rejection of a homeland and the desire for and acceptance of an alternative place” (1). But Pound’s experience in publishing a little magazine abroad illustrates how expatriate Americans frequently used the circumstances provided by alternative places in an attempt to re-engage their homeland, and how the obstacles that confronted the dissemination of their works confirmed the exclusivity of the modern enterprise they were undertaking abroad. The death of promising American poet and editor Ernest Walsh in Monte Carlo in October 1926 was felt across the community of expatriates in Europe. Walsh had been using a small government pension and the support of his Scottish benefactor, Ethel Moorhead, to publish This Quarter, and the resulting threat to the future of that magazine left Americans abroad with one less certain vehicle for the promotion of their work. Pound wrote his father almost immediately that he was “having fool ideas about starting a magazine” and “at present am looking for contributors .” It is interesting to note that the proposed publication, unlike a number of notable independent American magazines in Europe like Broom and Secession, for example, would not be launched with the primary aim of furnishing an open call to new writers. Pound told his father, “Must have at least three items of interest before I cast myself upon the waves.” He had already approached Hemingway and McAlmon, and he reported, “Several people seem cheered at prospect of unfettered publication. That’s...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 429-446
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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