found an array of classical backdrops for his characters, includingrnRoderick Hudson, the protagonist of his first book, DaisyrnMiller, and Isabel Archer. For both, the Colosseum providesrnthe setting for their greatest scenes.rnAt some point early in the 20th century, foreign visitors —rnAmericans in particular—began arriving in Rome with the aimrnof observing the future at work, rather than the past in repose.rnAmong these were Progressive muckrakers Ida Tarbell and LincolnrnSteffens, both fervent admirers of Benito Mussolini. ForrnMay Day 1920, Steffens traveled up to Rome from the south tornwitness the Fascists taking power. For Steffens, fascism was acceptablernas an amoral movement less severe —and thereforernmore palatable—than Bolshevism: “genially experimental andrnalways growing and playing,” he called it. Rome, he belieed,rninculcated a consciousness of history that had succeeded in givingrnthe lower classes an awareness of the future. “The Italians,”rnSteffens wrote, “are the future of Rome. They are the future ofrnall other people too.”rnIn the 1930’s, though, the burden of Italian fascism was beginningrnto weigh on Rome’s image, at least among most Americans.rnMore and more, American novelists and poets kept to thernnorth of the cit’, rarely traveling south. Even the Italophile SinclairrnLewis, who was to die in Rome in 1951, set the spiritual regenerationrnof his Sam Dodsworth, an American auto-industryrnexecutive, in Venice and Naples rather than the Eternal City.rnSimilarly, All the King’s Men, a fictional treatment of Gov.rnHuey Long of Louisiana by Robert Penn Warren, was partlyrncomposed in Rome and Perugia, where Warren described bullyrnboys in black shirts giving funny salutes.rnEzra Pound, though he spent much of his life in Itah’ and admiredrnMussolini, apparently had little interest in or affection forrnRome, a cit)’ he visited chiefly on political business. In 1935,rnduring the Ethiopian crisis. Pound visited the Eternal Cit’, “apparentlyrnfeeling,” as his biographer Humphrev Carpenter coiriments,rn”that he should be near the seat of government at thisrncrucial moment.” On Januar}’ 30, 1933, Pound received an audiencernwith II Duce in the Palazzo Venezia in Rome. He wasrnallowed a half-hour, long enough for the poet to expound onrnthe essentials of his Social Credit plan and for Mussolini to pronouncernthe Cantos Pound had sent him ahead of time “diverting.”rnPound was not recalled to The Presence afterward. Laternin 1939, he traveled to Rome to suggest to the minister of popularrnculture —in reality, the minister of propaganda —that he,rnPound, host a wireless program broadcast to America. “Well,”rnhe later wrote, “the Minister looked at me careful and said inrnperlite words to the effect that: Ez, or probably he said ‘MiornCaro Signore,’ if you think you can use OLIR air to monkey inrnAmerican INTERNAL politics you got another one comin’.”rnEventually, however. Pound did a few mild recordings by wayrnof audition, and on the strength of these was engaged to appearrnon the American Hour with a series of regular broadcast talks,rnwhich he recorded ahead of time, in batches. These talks werernthe basis of the charge of treason leveled against him by thernAmerican government after the war. On the day after the Americanrnforces landed at Salerno, Pound, aware of what was in storernfor him, fled north from Rome on foot.rnImmediately following the conclusion of World War II, EdmundrnWilson, reporting on Rome for the New Yorker, paintedrnan ambivalent picture of the cit)’ that at once looked back tornHawthorne’s and Howells’ impressions and ahead to the sensualityrnand intellectual detachment recorded later by TennesseernWilliams, Gore Vidal, John Cheever, and many others. In “RomanrnDiary: Sketches for a New Piranese,” “the whole past ofrnRome,” Wilson stated, “has been pushed by the war into a historyrnthat is now finished.” He went on to complain of thernraggazzini, the beggars, Italian politics, Italian poverty, humanrnexcrement in the Palatine, and the Forum: “all that irrelevantrnold rubbish . , . ought to be cleaned up and carted away and thernplace turned into a nice public park” instead of being allowedrnto remain “a playground for the Roman poor.” On a visit tornCafe Greco, Wilson picked up a brochure telling him thatrnGoldoni, Canova, Leopardi, Carducci, Berlioz, Corot, Gounod,rnBizet, Baudelaire, Byron, Shelley, Thackera’, Liszt, Wagner,rnThorswalden, Mark Twain, and others had all patronizedrnthe establishment. His attempt to “react appropriately” to thisrninformation had, he wrote, “the effect of an emetic and compelledrnme to disgorge, as it were, the whole mass of lore that Irnhad swallowed before in connection with the genius-haimtedrnpastof Rome.”rnIn the story “Roman Fever,” Edith Wharton has her Mrs.rnBlake remark, “I was just thinking, what different things Romernstands for to each generation of travelers. To our own grandmothers,rnRoman fever; to our mothers, sentimental dangers,—rnhov’ we used to be guarded!—to our daughters, no more dangersrnthan the middle of Main Street. They don’t know it—butrnhow much they’re missing!” Wlrat Mrs. Wlrarton could not seernwas the end of the progression, whereby the worrisome opportunitiesrnfor sexual experience implied bv Hawthorne and Jamesrnbecame, in the later 20th century, the principal attraction ofrnRome, celebrated in the works of Gore Vidal and TennesseernWilliams.rnLeslie Fiedler, in 1952, published a book of essays, some ofrnwhich had to do with Rome, whose central theme was that thernmyth of American innocence had been exploded, or else svipersededrnby reality; certainly, postwar American writers in Romernwere an) thing but innocent. In his first letter to his lo’er, DonaldrnWindham, Tennessee Williams wrote,rnHonev, you woidd love Rome! Not Paris, but Rome. Thernpin-cushions | Williams’s expression for youthful male behinds]rnhae been jusfly celebrated b)- artists for man)- centuriesrnand there is nothing I can add to the statements ofrnMichelangelo except a corroberation [sic] in modernrntimes. I have not been to bed with his Daid but with anyrnnumber of his more delicate creations, in fact the abundancernand accessibilitv’ is downright embarrassing.rnFrom the postwar era down to modern times, the Rome experienced,rndescribed, and recreated by American writers (whenrnnot just another fleshpot) is a grabbag of abstracted, intellectualized,rnand personalized fragments.rnIn his story “The Abundant Dreamer,” Harold Brodkey referredrnto “HolHwood on the Tiber,” which is what, in the earlyrn60’s, Rome had become. Or, as Erik Amfitheatrof, in his wonderfulrnbook The Enchanted Ground: Americans in Italy, 1760-rn1980, put it: “Rome was degenerating into the corrupt neverneverrnland that Emerson and other American Puritans hadrncriticized so sharply in the 1850s.”rnFor a period of nearly 250 years, British and American writersrn—like nonliterary American and British citizens—visitingrnRome have always found more or less what they deserved tornfind. And that, of course, is exactly as it must—and should—be.rn1 6/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn