By Susan Tomaselli.
‘Mr Yeats has been speaking to me of your writing.’ In December 1913, Ezra Pound wrote to James Joyce asking permission to include a poem of his, ‘I Hear an Army,’ in the anthology Des Imagistes. Joyce, living in self imposed exile in Trieste and struggling to make ends meet – he had yet to make money from his writing – readily agreed. ‘This is the first time I have written to any one outside of my own circle of acquaintance (save in the case of French authors)… I am bonae voluntatis – don’t in the least know that I can be of any use to you – or you to me. From what W.B.Y. says, I imagine we have a hate or two in common – but thats [sic] a very problematical bond on introduction.’
Joyce sent Pound more work, and Pound, drawn to Joyce’s tribulations with censorious publishers – it took Joyce almost ten years for Dubliners to be published without expurgation – took up the cause. Acting as Joyce’s unpaid agent, Pound used his connections as literary correspondent and editor to shepherd A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – as a serialisation in Harriet Shaw Weaver’s The Egoist in 1914 – and parts of Ulysses – first serial publication in The Little Review in 1918 – into print.
‘Enter a skinny, shabby Irishman and a natty, quietly sinister American,’ as Kevin Jackson describes them, ‘hellbent on exploding everything that realistic fiction and Georgian poetry held dear … Language has rebelled against the tyranny of subject matter and character, and become the leading character in its own right. The horror!’