How to Read …

London, Desmond Harmsworth, [1931].

8vo, pp. 55, [1], with a half-title; a very good copy in the publisher’s red cloth (first issue, rough finished and stamped in silver), grey dustjacket printed in red, a few small chips, spine reinforced at head and foot; bookplate of D. G. Bridson (see below); ownership inscription in pencil ‘AB’ (i.e. Agnes Bedford) to front endpaper.


US $968€889

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First edition, a fine association copy. Agnes Bedford (1892-1969) was a lifelong friend of Pound (they first met in 1919 and corresponded until 1963 when he unexpectedly severed contact) and through him of Wyndham Lewis, with whom she had an affair in the 1920s. A vocal coach and accompanist, she provided the music for Pound’s Five Troubadour Songs (1920). After he left for Paris in January 1920, Bedford sublet his flat; she then visited him in Paris the following year, where she was the principal amanuensis for his opera based on Villon’s Le Testament. She was later the rehearsal coach for its first performance in 1931 and her contacts were vital to the casting of singers (Bridson was later involved in the first broadcast of the opera in 1962, for which Bedford was frequently consulted). Laid in here is a copy of a letter of 4 May 1969 from Bedford to Bridson on his retirement – ‘I have been so happy to read all the appreciative things about you on all sides’ – recalling ‘happy times at Studio A’ and Bridson’s ‘kind friendship & affection for Wyndham’.

Pound and D. G. Bridson first crossed paths in the 1930s when Pound included a poem by Bridson in his Active Anthology (1933) – they corresponded at that time but they did not meet until 1951 when Bridson, now a force to reckoned with in BBC radio, came to Washington DC to record Pound from his detention in St Elizabeth’s Hospital. ‘To me, Pound … was the greatest living poet’, Bridson later wrote in Prospero and Ariel. Bridson produced Women of Trachis for radio in 1954, visited Pound again in 1956 to make some recordings, including ‘Four Steps’, Pound’s famous justification for his support of Mussolini; and then shot a television profile on Pound in Rapallo in 1959. They continued to meet and talk until 1963 as Pound lapsed slowly in silence.

Gallup A33a.

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