Saul Bellow’s response to William Faulkner

Saul Bellow’s response to William Faulkner

Novelist William Faulkner asked novelist Saul Bellow (in 1956) to sign a recommendation that Ezra Pound, the poet who broadcast anti-Semitic rants on the radio from Mussolini’s Italy, be released from a hospital for the insane.

Bellow refused.

He wrote back:

“Pound advocated in his poems and in his broadcasts enmity to the Jews and preached hatred and murder. Do you mean to ask me to join you in honoring a man who called for the destruction of my kinsmen? I can take no part in such a thing even if it makes effective propaganda abroad, which I doubt. Europeans will take it instead as a symptom of reaction. In France, Pound would have been shot. Free him because he is a poet? Why, better poets than he were exterminated perhaps. Shall we say nothing in their behalf?

“America has dealt mercifully with Pound in recognizing his insanity and sparing his life. To release him is a foolish and feeble idea….”

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