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POUND, Ezra. A Draft of the Cantos 17 to 27. London: The Curwen Press for John Rodker, 1928.
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POUND, Ezra. A Draft of the Cantos 17 to 27. London: The Curwen Press for John Rodker, 1928.

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POUND, Ezra. A Draft of the Cantos 17 to 27. London: The Curwen Press for John Rodker, 1928.

2° (380 x 255mm). 55 proof leaves printed on the rectos only on laid paper, the last 14 leaves watermarked 'Abbey Mills , Greenfield', corresponding to pp. 1, 3-5, and 7-56 of the published edition [of which pp.2 and 6 were blank]. Title printed in red and black. 11 initials after Gladys Hynes printed in black only [that on p.[46] with lower border printed on a separate slip in red and black and tipped onto the leaf], 11 corresponding tissue interleaves printed in red bearing the part of the initial to be printed in red bound before them. 5 tailpieces after Hynes printed in black [those on pp.32 and 40 of the published volume not present here; that on p.23 printed on a separate slip and tipped onto the leaf], 8 tailpieces printed in red on tissue interleaves bound in before them [including a duplicate of that on p.52]. (Some light marginal browning, a few short marginal tears, some leaves with sections excised.) Original red vellum lettered in gilt on the upper board, later morocco-backed slipcase (extremities very lightly rubbed, a few minor marks, upper hinge cracked). Provenance: Olivia Shakespear (d.1938, exemplaire nominatif with her name printed on the limitation page; loosely-inserted printed invitation to the wedding of Dorothy Shakespear and Ezra Pound)--Harry F. Marks, New York (loosely-inserted bookseller's invoice)--Mrs John Hay Whitney (her sale, Sotheby's New York, 23 April 1999, lot 506).

PROOF COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION, EXTENSIVELY ANNOTATED BY POUND--'REQUEST PRINTER TO CONFINE EMENDATIONS TO OTHER PEOPLE'S COPY'. OLIVIA SHAKESPEAR'S EXEMPLAIRE NOMINATIF. The limitation statement on p.[5] describes the edition as 101 copies (of which 94 are for sale), comprising: four on vellum lettered A-D; five on imperial japan lettered E-I; 15 on Whatman paper numbered I-XV; 70 on watermarked Roma paper numbered 1-70. Below this statement is printed 'THIS COPY IS NUMBERED , 13 AND IS , PRINTED FOR , OLIVIA SHAKESPEAR'; however, this copy is made up of proof sheets, which--when watermarked--do not bear the watermark of the copies on Roma, as the limitation statement might suggest. Pound had first met Olivia Shakespear--and her daughter Dorothy, whom he was to marry in 1914--in 1909, when he described Olivia to his mother as 'undoubtedly the most charming woman in London' (H. Carpenter A Serious Character (London: 1988), p.103). The first cousin of the poet Lionel Johnson, Olivia had married the solicitor Henry Shakespear, but ten years later she met W.B. Yeats through Johnson, and began a love affair with the poet, who described her in his Memoirs as having 'a profound culture, a knowledge of French, English, and Italian literature' (quoted in H. Carpenter op. cit. p.104). Although the romance departed the relationship with the re-appearance of Maud Gonne, which was followed by a period of separation, Olivia Shakespear and Yeats remained friends, and later in 1909 Olivia Shakespear was responsible for introducing Pound to Yeats.

All of the text leaves in the volume are extensively annotated (with the exception of pp.[24]-32--i.e. Cantos 21-22, suggesting that these leaves were additional proof leaves, bound up to complete the volume--and pp.50, 52, 55); these annotations are in three hands--the printer's, Pound's (in ink, pencil and crayon), and John Rodker's (as publisher). The majority of Pound's annotations are corrections to typographic errors (of either spelling or punctuation), amendments to the leading, kerning and mise en page, or re-corrections to the printer's efforts to normalise Pound's syntax. There is, however, one textual change: on p.43, ll.41-2 are changed from '"We made no thing of sheer beauty , "Neither fine house nor the carving,' to '"Nothing we made, we set nothing in order, , "Neither house nor the carving' (retained in the published edition).

Pound's orthographical quirks and broad-ranging linguistic plunderings, scrupulously fabricated to serve his specific literary purpose, obviously caused the printer great anxiety, and his notes--carefully inserted in a crisp, tidy copperplate hand--attempt to rein in Pound's text. These attempts were even more vexatious to Pound than his copy was to the compositor, and many of the leaves bear the word 'Stet', marked across the margins in a hand of ever-increasing boldness, presumably reflecting his escalating frustration; for example, 'Invention-d'entités-plus-ou-moins-abstraits- , en-nombre-egal-aux-choses-à-expliquer ....' (p.[33], ll 12-13) has had spaces interpolated between the hyphens, provoking 'stet's in left and right margins and the comment 'leave all my hyphens as they are', or, similarly, p.[10], which bears three marginal 'stet's and is marked at the foot 'as in my mss. + proof your emendations out of this'. This frustration reaches its apogee in Pound's curt fiat at the head of the first Canto: 'Request printer to confine emendations to other peoples copy', an instruction which is confirmed by Rodker in a note on the opposite margin: 'Typescript to be followed in all cases. Including numerals and quotes'.

The layout changes to the text were carried out for the published edition, but there are also other differences between the present volume and the published edition, not marked on these proof sheets: the type set in black on the title of the proof is in red on the published title and vice-versa the type set in red; the printer's name changes from 'The Curwen Press' to 'J. Curwen & Sons Ltd.'; the limitation statement lists one copy to be sent to The Times Literary Supplement for review, rather than simply recording 'one copy for review'; and the proof volume contains a list of 15 recipients of designated copies, not present in the published edition, reading: '[Copy] E Payson W. Loomis , I Ben Martin , III Nancy Cunard , 6 Natalie Clifford Barney , 12 Howard L. Spohn , 13 Olivia Shakespear , 14 John Rodker , 27 Hi Simons , 1 Gladys Hynes , 2 F. B. Neumayer , 3 Harry [and] Caresse [Crosby, their names given in the form of a 'Crosby Cross'] , 4 Josef Bard , 5 James Joyce , 7 William Carlos Williams , 8 Robert McKeague'. Cf. Gallup A29.
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