Does Sanders’ bootleg of Pound’s Cantos in some way refer to the unpublishable Cantos LXXII & LXXIII written in Italy in 1944-1945? The Italian or Fascist Cantos. These originally appeared in the Italian Fascist newspaper Marina Repubblicana on January 15 and February 1, 1945. They would not be included in the New Directions Cantos until 1986/1987 (at the back of the volume), and they would not be published in English until 1993 in Paris Review.
The Estate of Ezra Pound privately published the Italian Cantos in 1973 with a simultaneous edition by McClelland & Stewart in Canada. Twenty-five copies were printed in Washington DC (the same number in Toronto???) and a handful were distributed to a select group of public libraries in the U.S. (Yale was one) and Canada (McMaster University was one), in the hopes of acquiring an international copyright for them. Typewritten on photocopied sky blue paper in a bound pamphlet, this publication was basically a mimeo production very similar to the Fuck You bootleg of the Cantos of 1967. In 1975, Cold Turkey Press would publish Pound’s radio speeches in transcript in paperback (possibly mimeo) although a revised second edition would be in hardcover. Mimeo is just the format for such explosive material. It leaves a mark, a trace but leaves open the possibility of erasing it or at least containing it. The cloak and dagger world of Deep Throat, espionage, and revolutionary cells come to mind.
On the other hand, mimeo has the capability of going viral. What would it have meant for Fuck You Press to have published the Italian Cantos instead of Cantos CX-CXVI? As I mentioned earlier, the Fuck You Cantos forced New Directions’ hand to recognize them and influenced the closure of Pound’s epic. Such a publication would have been on par with Auden’s The Platonic Blow. If Sanders had access to the Italian Cantos, it is interesting to consider why he did not publish them, when he was willing to publish the Auden poem. Just as The Platonic Blow exposed the open secret of Auden’s homosexuality, a Fuck You Edition of the suppressed Cantos would have “revealed” Pound’s fascism. The suppression of these two poems allowed the poems that followed, The Pisan Cantos, to be embraced as evidence of Pound’s genius by many upon their publication in 1948. It is only after Pound’s death that the “hidden” truth could be let out. And even then it was closely guarded by those libraries which could keep a secret, like Yale.