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Special Collections & Archives

Ezra Pound in the University of Idaho Library

One of Idaho's most famous, or infamous, native sons, Ezra Pound's literary reputation was founded half-a-world away, in London, Paris, and Rome. Born in Hailey, Idaho, in October of 1885, the son of a federal land officer who -- eighteen months later -- returned to the East with his family, Pound became one of the founders of Modernism in poetry. Although he never returned to Idaho, he retained a sense of "westerness" that led him to break with established canons of society and flee to Europe in 1908.

Promoter and provocateur, Pound proceeded, with T. S. Eliot and others, to reshape the world of poetry. In France, he met Gertrude Stein, who quipped, in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (NY, 1933. p. 246): "He was a village explainer, excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not." Later, his enthusiasm for radical economic theories led him to embrace Italian fascism. As a result, he was imprisoned after WWII in a mental hospital in Washington, D.C. Returning to Italy, he died there in 1972.

The following year, the Pound collection at the University of Idaho was established at the Library. Pound's daughter, the Princess Mary de Rachewiltz, presented a number of her father's works to the collection. She wrote that her father "was very proud of his connection with [Idaho] and I think you will find affectionate and amused references to it throughout his writings." In honor of her father, the Princess has continued to donate privately published books on Pound and his circle to the Library's collection.

The Pound collection has grown over the years, particularly as a result of the flood of new works at the time of the Pound Centennial. In 1991, the library acquired, through funds provided by the Library Associates of the University of Idaho Library, one of two existing manuscripts of American poet Vachel Lindsay's 1930 essay on Ezra Pound and Senator Borah, which he had written as a columnist for the Spokesman-Review.

The Ezra Pound Collection at the University of Idaho Library contains nearly 400 volumes, many of them first editions, of Pound's publications of poetry, criticism, and translations, and works about him, his friends and foes.

Eleven volumes of Ezra Pound's Poetry and Prose: Contributions to periodicals (1991), have been added to the University of Idaho Library's Ezra Pound Collection through the generosity of the Library Associates. This special collection of significant resources for the study of Idaho native Ezra Pound is substantially enhanced by this major addition. The indexed volumes include facsimiles of over 2000 individual articles, essays, poems, and other pieces from a wide range of rare or obscure publications.

The Ezra Pound Collection is located in the Department of Special Collections and Archives on the Library's ground floor. Materials in the non-circulating Pound Collection can be identified through the Library's on-line catalog. Each has the prefix POUND.

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