Carving: Hulme, Pound, Stokes and Sweeney

  • Tony Pinkney
Part of the Macmillan Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature book series


Ezra Pound was Eliot’s first literary contact after his arrival in England in August 1914, and may well have been decisive in prompting Eliot away from the academic career he was contemplating during his dreary residence at Oxford and towards close involvement with the artistic avant-garde in London. The story of Pound’s tireless propagandising on behalf of Eliot’s work is well known, but his benevolence veered alarmingly close to a domineering patronage. While under the older poet’s tutelage, Eliot suppressed his own religious poetry and embarked on the series of Sweeney poems in which violence against women eventually achieves maximum explicitness, and that violence is continuous with his early letters to Pound, littered as they are with bitterly anti-feminist remarks. Pound adumbrated his own Winnicottian diagnosis of this element in himself and Eliot when he remarked that they both suffered a ‘blood poison’ from America; Eliot had the disease ‘perhaps worse than I have — poor devil — the thin milk of … New England from the pap’.1 His involvement with Pound, T. E. Hulme and Wyndham Lewis during the years of Vorticism points to Eliot’s penchant for a cult of machismo, which entails a rejection of paranoid-schizoid affects, a virulent anti-feminism and an authoritarian politics that ultimately found its embodiment, at least for Pound, in Benito Mussolini.


Potential Space Family Reunion Depressive Position Genital Sexuality Reparative Impulse 
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© Tony Pinkney 1984

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  • Tony Pinkney

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