This chapter explores the aesthetic and political impulses behind the depiction of Venice in Pound’s Canto 26, written in the mid 1920s. In Canto 26, I argue, Pound responds to a contemporary city reinvigorated in his mind by the advent of Mussolini’s Fascism. Pound’s references to Venice’s history and its imperial past may be read in the context of Fascism’s renewed emphasis on this history, which it used in the service of a contemporary ideology of Italian expansionism. In contrast to some critics’ emphasis on the negative aspects of Venetian history explored in Pound’s work, I argue that he saw the city as a meeting-place for art and politics, a connection revived (disturbingly) by the Fascist regime that he was increasingly drawn to. By way of a comparison with Pound’s friends and fellow poets T.S. Eliot and W.B. Yeats, the chapter contends that the Canto attempts to forge its own (modernist) mythology, bringing together aesthetics and politics, Renaissance history and the contemporary world.
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