Let the Wind Speak

A public conversation about Mary de Rachewiltz, Ezra Pound, and shifting loyalties during WWII


Fields of Knowledge
  • Artistic legacies
  • Pedagogy

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Penn Press

Contributing Institutions

Department of English, University of Pennsylvania

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Slought, the Penn Press, and the Department of English at the University of Pennsylvania are pleased to announce Let the Wind Speak, a public conversation about Carol Loeb Shloss' recently published biography of Mary de Rachewiltz, on Wednesday March 22, 2023, from 6:30-8:00pm. The event, free and open to the public, will feature author Carol Loeb Shloss in conversation with Nancy Moses, Jo Park and Jean-Michel Rabaté. Let the Wind Speak: Mary de Rachewiltz and Ezra Pound (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023) is the story of a daughter's extraordinary loyalty to her father during the shifting and fragmented politics of WW II. Born on different continents, separated by nationality, related by natural birth, but torn apart by conflict between Italy and America, Mary and Ezra Pound found a way to live out their deep and abiding love for one another.

Shloss reveals Ezra Pound's complicated family dynamics in ways that have been previously hidden, setting his family in the context of the O.S.S. and the nascent F.B.I. Because Mary was Italian and Pound was American, this book puts the meaning of Pound's alleged treason charge in a new light, showing the complicated personal loyalties that underlay his seeming political aberration. We thus discover a highly unusual family: Mary was the daughter of Olga Rudge and Ezra Pound, brought into the world in secret and hidden in the Tyrolean Alps at birth. Raised as a German peasant, initially Mary had no idea that Pound and Rudge were her father and mother. Gradually the truth of her parentage was revealed, and with it the knowledge that Dorothy Shakespear, not Olga, was Pound's actual wife. Dorothy Shakespear, in turn, kept her own secrets. While Pound signed her son's birth certificate and claimed legal paternity, he was not the boy's biological father. Two lies, established at the birth of these children, created a dynamic antagonism that lasted for generations. Pound maneuvered through it until he was arrested for treason during World War II. Pound left Mary with the task of claiming a contested heritage in the face of a legal system that failed to recognize her legitimacy. On the other side were the secret services of the United States government: few American individuals have had so many forces of government aligned against them. Pound was caught by history, by ideologies and by monumental resources and stratagems.

More than a biography, this book is a complex history of modern writers who were forced to negotiate allegiances to one another and to their adopted countries in a time of mortal conflict. It includes the stories of H.D., Richard Aldington, Olga Rudge, Norman Holmes Pearson and James Jesus Angleton, while charting Mary de Rachewiltz's navigation through issues of personal identity amid the shifting politics of western nations in both peace and war. Ultimately, Shloss asks us to think of two different legacies: Pound, for all his controversial ideas, was open about them. He communicated; he broadcast them to the world. The O.S.S. and the F.B.I. created a culture of secrecy, hidden motives and invisible government. Fidelity asks us to consider to whom we give our final allegiances. What deserves our loyalty? Supported by research from previously unused archives at the Beinecke Library of Yale University, the National Archives in Bethesda, Maryland and the National Archives of Great Britain, this book shows us an Ezra Pound we have never seen before, as well as telling the story of a young woman's claim to a complicated, dark, and equally compelling heritage.

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Carol Loeb Shloss is a former Professor of English and Irish Literature at Stanford University. Widely known for her work on modernist writers, her books include Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake and Let the Wind Speak: Mary de Rachewiltz and Ezra Pound. To Dance in the Wake was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, was a finalist for The National Book Critics Award, and was chosen as one of the notable books of the year by The New York Times. She is currently at work on Flannery and Regina: The Andalusia Chronicles. In 2023, she will lecture in a summer seminar funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Reconsidering Flannery O'Connor.

Nancy Moses, an author, nonprofit planner and former museum director, currently serves as Chair of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. She is the author of Stolen, Smuggled, Sold: On the Hunt for Cultural Treasures (2015) and the award-winning Lost in the Museum: Hidden Treasures: Buried Treasures and the Stories They Tell (2008). She created "Sisters in Freedom" produced by History Making Productions. Her Planning + Development produces strategic plans fundraising and marketing studies. She began her career at the National Endowment for the Humanities, served on the executive staff of WQED Public Broadcasting, and the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Greater Philadelphia. When she was Executive Director of the Atwater Kent Museum, Philadelphia's history museum dramatically expanded attendance and revenue.

Josephine Nock-Hee Park is Professor of English and Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Apparitions of Asia: Modernist Form and Asian American Poetics (Oxford University Press, 2008) and Cold War Friendships: Korea, Vietnam, and Asian American Literature (Oxford University Press, 2016). She co-edited Ezra Pound in the Present: Essays on Pound's Contemporaneity (Bloomsbury, 2016) with Paul Stasi, and Asian American Literature in Transition, 1930-1965 (Cambridge University Press, 2021), with Victor Bascara.

Jean-Michel Rabaté is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, co-editor of the Journal of Modern Literature and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Author or editor of fifty books on modernism, psychoanalysis, philosophy and literary theory, like Beckett and Sade (2020), Rires Prodigues: Rire et jouissance chez Marx, Freud et Kafka ( 2021), James Joyce, Hérétique et Prodigue (2022) and Lacan l'irritant (2023). He edited After Derrida (2018), New Beckett (2019), Understanding Derrida / Understanding Modernism (2019), Knots: Post-Lacanian Readings of literature and film (2020) and co-edited Historical Modernisms: Time, History and Modernist Aesthetics (2022) and Encounters with Soun-Gui Kim: Writings, 1975-2021 (2022).

"If you were Mary de Rachewiltz, on whose side of history would you fall? In an alpine tower, there is time to reflect. She observes something small: a piece of straw on the floor; a cracked cup on the table; through the window she sees immensity: a gorge, a line of mountains, a summit, a path to the heights. She considers a discordant inheritance. There was her father, Ezra Pound; there, facing him, was the United States. Between them, a charge of treason. As the daughter of a gifted poet whose life ended in turmoil, she recognizes that her life has grown from epic talent even as it has chafed against lies, betrayal, and shifting fictions. Beauty and danger roil together on the steep slopes and in the mind."

-- Carol Loeb Shloss, Let the Wind Speak (2023)