‘God, my god, you folks are DUMB!!!’: Pound’s Rome Radio Broadcasts

  • L. S. C. Bristow


In this chapter I discuss the series of broadcasts made by Pound in Rome Radio’s ‘American Hour’, transcripts of which have been published by Leonard Doob in Ezra Pound Speaking: Radio Speeches of World War II (Westport, Conn., and London: Greenwood Press, 1978). These talks were audible on shortwave in the United States and on short- and medium-wave in Great Britain. Individual speeches were generally directed at either an American or a British audience, although a few were directed at both. A number of these talks were monitored by the BBC and by the Princeton Listening Center. Between October 1941 and July 1943 the broadcasts were monitored more or less systematically by the Federal Broadcast Intelligence Service of the Federal Communications Commission; on the basis of the service’s reports Pound was indicted for treason in 1943. A selection of these transcripts is available on microfilm, entitled Ezra Pound Broadcasts in Federal Communications Commission Transcripts of Short-Wave Broadcasts. The texts that Leonard Doob reproduces in Ezra Pound Speaking are almost all reproduced from Pound’s prepared scripts, which often differ significantly from the FCC monitors’ transcripts.


Federal Communication Commission Free Speech Radio Broadcast American Audience Interrogative Element 
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  1. 1.
    ‘In the Stalinist world, in which definition, that is to say the separation between Good and Evil becomes the sole content of all language, there are no more words without values attached to them, so that finally the function of writing is to cut out one stage of the process: there is no more lapse of time between naming and judging, and the closed character of language is perfected, since in the last analysis it is a value which is given as explanation of another value’ (Roland Barthes, Le Degré zéro de l’écriture (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1953 and 1972)Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Ezra Pound, ‘A Visiting Card’ (1942; originally in Italian), in Selected Prose, 1909–1965 (London: Faber and Faber, 1973) p. 283.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Ezra Pound, ‘Leaving out Economics’, NEW, 6 (16) (31 Jan. 1935) 331.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    William James, Principles of Psychology (London: Macmillan, 1890), vol. II, p. 370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 8.
    Quoted by Mary de Rachewiltz in ‘Fragments of an Atmosphere’, Agenda, 17 (nos 3a nd 4) and 18 (no. 1) (1979–80Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    William Empson, Milton’s God (1961; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981) pp. 122–3.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Raskin put forward his theory of the ‘dramaturgy of propaganda’ as a component of ‘total wireless’ in Handbuch des Deutschen Rundfunks (1939); quoted by Asa Briggs, The War of Words, The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom, vol. 3 (London: Oxford University Press, 1970) p. 663n.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    See Noel Stock, The Life of Ezra Pound (rpt. Harmondsworth, Middx: Penguin, 1974) p. 409.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    See Paideuma, 6 (2) (Fall 1977) for a translation of Chilanti’s ‘Ezra Pound among the Seditious’, which gives an account of Pound’s association with dissident Fascists, and with non-Fascists and anti-Fascists. See also Mary de Rachewiltz, Discretions (London: Faber and Faber, 1971) p. 166.Google Scholar
  10. 13.
    Bruno Foa, ‘The Structure of Rome Short-Wave Broadcasts to North America’, in H. L. Childs and J. B. Whitton (eds), Propaganda by Shortwave (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1942) p. 155.Google Scholar
  11. 14.
    Quoted in C. David Heymann’s Ezra Pound: The Last Rowers: A Political Profile (London: Faber and Faber, 1976) p. 99.Google Scholar
  12. 18.
    Felice Chilanti, ‘Ezra Pound among the Seditious’, Paideuma, 6 (2) (1977) 240.Google Scholar
  13. 22.
    Donald Hall, ‘Ezra Pound: an Interview’, Paris Review, 28 (Summer/Fall 1962) 44.Google Scholar

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© L. S. C. Bristow 1992

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  • L. S. C. Bristow

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