Jun 15, 2023 - Sale 2641

Sale 2641 - Lot 92

Price Realized: $ 2,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,000 - $ 4,000
"THEY OUGHT TO GIVE ME THE DEGREE AND BE DAMNED GLAD TO HAVE ME ACCEPT" POUND, EZRA. Three items, to his UPenn classmate Graham Cox Woodward: Typed Letter Signed, "Ezra" * Autograph Note Signed, "E" * Typed Letter, with holograph note. The first letter, requesting help in persuading the UPenn English department to award Pound a doctorate on the strength of his recent literary work, explaining that he is not sure of what use a degree would have except that he would earn more for prose articles, and criticizing the American academy. The 6-line note, explaining that he sent the original copy of the enclosed letter [see next item] to W[harton] B[arker, UPenn alumnus and trustee], and promising not to mention to anyone else Woodward's conversation. The typed letter, Pound's retained draft of a letter to Wharton Barker, hoping to correct Barker's opinions concerning Pound's pursuit of a degree and to clarify some of Pound's criticisms of the American university. Pound has written a dated note, unsigned, in blank upper margin of first page: "Please / Keep This for the present / I may want it / returned to me / later." Together 11 pages, 4to or smaller, onionskin paper, written on rectos of separate sheets, Pound's draft to Barker on blindstamped personal letterhead; few small holes at fold intersections, occasional paper clip stains at upper left. ANS with original envelope, addressed in his hand. London, 1 February; Np, 1920; 26 August [1920]

Additional Details

1 February 1920: ". . . It has just occurred to me that a Ph.D. might be of some slight use; I dont know precisely what use, and not much at any rate.
"But I got sufficiently interested in the problem of its possibilities (possibly 10 cents a mile more for prose articles) to write to my progenitor . . . .
"I think Schelling wd. admit that I have done enough for litterchure [sic] to pass the Eng. requirements. . . .
"The hitch w. possibly be examination or some such bosh. . . .
"In fact they ought to give me the degree and be damned glad to have me accept it. That perhaps not the best statement for you to make first.
"They'll probably say I dont pay alumni dues, to which the answer is that Poetry is not a paid art like the sale of hardware or the swindling the public via sugar trust.
"I wd. bloody well have starved if I had relied on my university education alone.
"Considering the whole faculty of 'Arts', all the litterchure profs. etc. are all parasites on a few dozen dead authors, they aren't in a very good position to crab the living ones. . . ."
With--Retained draft of Woodward's typed letter to Pound, recounting a conversation he had with Wharton Barker, who mentioned that Pound Senior had visited him concerning Pound's interest in obtaining a degree, describing Barker's subsequent investigation into the possibility of assisting Pound, and explaining that [UPenn English department head Felix] Schelling believes Pound failed the relevant examinations so that a degree would be impossible. 1 1/2 pages, 4to, onionskin paper, written on two sheets. Np, 5 August 1920.
Before 1920, Pound had been publicly dismissive of degree requirements and anything that distracted him from the study of poetry. In 1906, Pound had been awarded a fellowship while at the University of Pennsylvania, intending to use the money to pursue a doctoral degree, but, after making enemies of the head of the English department and others, he left or was forced to leave the program the following year. Despite his literary accomplishments, Pound never received a Ph.D.