James Laughlin, New Directions, and the Remaking of Ezra Pound (Google eBook)
Univ of Massachusetts Press, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages
Although James Laughlin (1914-1997) came from one of Pittsburgh's leading steel-making families, his passions were literary rather than industrial - he wanted to be a poet. Laughlin was a freshman at Harvard when he traveled to Rapallo, Italy, in 1933 to meet Ezra Pound (1885-1972), and he returned the following year to enroll in the poet's Ezuversity. Pound dismissed Laughlin's poetic talents, advising the wealthy young man to make himself a publisher. Laughlin did just that, founding New Directions Press in 1936. For much of the 1930s, Laughlin and Pound were friends, business associates, collaborators, student and teacher, and even at times son and surrogate father. tested by Pound's wartime propaganda broadcasts for Italian state radio, his capture and abortive trial for treason, and his thirteen-year stay as a mental patient in St. Elizabeths Hospital. Following this scandal and disgrace, the reading public no longer wanted to buy Pound's books, and the critical establishment dismissed him as a Fascist crank. Laughlin and New Directions responded by marketing Pound in such a way as to convince consumers that the poet's importance needed to be judged solely on aesthetic grounds, and that his political beliefs were irrelevant to his accomplishments as a pioneering literary artist. With Pound's encouragement, and despite the poet's oft-expressed opposition to the mixture of commerce and art, Laughlin used such marketing tools as advertising, the cultivation of friendly critics, and the development of the trade paperback to enhance Pound's reputation. other New Directions staffers and unpublished materials from numerous literary archives - Gregory Barnhisel tells the story of the personal and professional relationship between one of the twentieth century's most controversial writers and his loyal and innovative American publisher - a relationship that eventually helped remake literary history and continues to shape our understanding of modernism itself.
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Page 9 - MS. The voice that issues from this Spirit is that Vox Populi which the Deity inspires. Foolish must he be who can mistake for this a local acclamation, or a transitory outcry — transitory though it be for years, local though from a Nation. Still more lamentable is his error who can believe that there is...