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Carolyn Fornoff

Ernesto Cardenal’s Apologia for Ezra Pound

University of Pennsylvania, EE.UU.


While most scholarship examining Ezra Pound’s influence on Ernesto Cardenal’s poetics has focused on style and form, little attention has been given to the vast ideological differences that separate the two. Why would Cardenal, a committed Marxist and Liberation Theologist, claim as his biggest influence a poet whose fascist, anti-Semitic politics figure so prominently in his work? If perhaps the most obvious response is that Cardenal was more interested in Pound’s aesthetics than his ideology, this conclusion obviates the question of how Cardenal accounts for Pound’s politics. By taking a look at Cardenal’s discussion of Pound’s politics and probing possible ideological congruencies in their works, this article proposes that Cardenal was not only inspired by Pound’s reinvention of the epic and use of the archive, but also stirred by his figuration of the poet as a political actor, and persuaded by his condemnation of the U.S. government and usury. This affinity between these two great poets, I argue, discloses the slippage between two oppositional discourses –the Fascist and the Marxist– in their critiques of production in the mid twentieth-century.

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