“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, end of October, 1922, Italy; Germany; and Ireland

In Rome, National Fascist Party leader Benito Mussolini, 39, wearing a black shirt and trousers and a bowler hat, arrives to form a government and become the youngest Prime Minister in Italy’s history, at the request of King Victor Emmanuel III, 52.

Benito Mussolini

In Florence, American ex-pat art historian Bernard Berenson, 57, tells a visiting friend,

These Fascists are the same people who requisitioned my most precious wines three years ago in the name of the Florentine Soviet Committee; then they were Communists. They don’t know what they are. The only lucky Italians are the ones who live abroad. I’ve lived here for 32 years and I’ve never seen a government and that’s their way of governing, like their police, who lie low during strikes. When the government comes up against some difficulty they disappear; when everything is settled by the nature of things, they reappear, triumphant. But nevertheless everything works in this country. That’s because Italy isn’t a nation; it’s a civilization.”

Bernard Berenson

*****

In Berlin, journalist Count Harry Kessler, 54, president of the German Peace Society, writes in his diary,

Perhaps [Mussolini] will usher in a period of fresh European disorders and wars…This may turn out to be a black day for Italy and Europe.”

Count Harry Kessler

*****

In Dublin, poet and playwright William Butler Yeats, 57, admires Mussolini’s “burst of powerful personality.”

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early next year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, and about The Literary 1920s in Paris and New York City at the Osher program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, June 19, 1920, Hotel Elysee, 3 rue de Beaune, Paris

About ten days ago, when American poet Ezra Pound, 34, was still in Italy, he had met for the first time the Irish writer whom he had been corresponding with and encouraging for seven years, James Joyce, 38.

Joyce 1918

James Joyce

He had convinced Joyce to move the entire Joyce family to Paris in the next few months. Pound promised he will pave the way with the proper introductions.

Today he is writing to the American patron of the arts and artists, lawyer John Quinn, 50, back in New York, describing his first impressions of Joyce:

Dear John Quinn:

I came out of Italy on a tram-car [because of a rail strike] & reckon the next man will come out in a cab.

Joyce finally got to Sirmione [Italy]; dont [sic] know yet whether he has got back to Trieste…

Joyce pleasing; after the first shell of cantankerous Irishman…

A concentration & absorption passing [W B Yeats, 55]; Yeats has never taken on anything requiring the condensation of Ulysses.

—Also gt. exhaustion, but more constitution than I had expected, & apparently good recovery from eye operation.

He is coming up here later; long reasons but justified in taking a rest from Trieste.

He is of course as stubborn as a mule or an Irishman, but I failed to find him at all unreasonable:  Thank god he has been stubborn enough to know his job & stick to it…

He is also dead right in refusing to interrupt his stuff by writing stray articles for cash. Better in the end, even from practical point of view…

In the stories of his early eccentricities in Dublin I have always thought people neglected the poignant feature:  i.e. that his “outrageous” remarks were usually so.

His next work will go to the Dial [magazine]—but he shd. rest after Ulysses

yours ever

E. P.”

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

In the fall of 2020 I will be talking about writers’ salons before and after the Great War in Ireland, England, France and America in the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning program.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.