A Serious Character By Carpenter

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A Serious Character By Carpenter

Henry James's outstanding biographer are noteworthy here because, in A Serious Character: The Life of Ezra Pound, Humphrey Carpenter proves himself to be in Edel's rank as a biographer, even though he clearly does not admire Ezra Pound - as man and artist - nearly as much as Edel does James. Not only for his strong opinions, which he is subtle but determined in conveying, Carpenter's presence is a certain, engaging, and provocative one in this study. He narrates Pound's life with the fluidity and grace of an excellent novelist, never allowing his narrative to become lock-step according to the study's suprastructure of chronological order, but rather implementing frequently an associative organizational approach, with flashes forward or backward in time, in his admirably realized effort to analyze and posit explanations for the myriad ambiguities and anomalies related to Pound's character, life, and writing. Pound was, as Carpenter makes abundantly clear, an "agile and slippery .

. . creature. . . . Again and again one seems to have him by the tail, only to find that he has merely cast off another skin and slipped away, leaving one clutching just a persona or mask."

Perhaps it is the "slippery" quality of Pound's personality that compels Carpenter to make his own presence felt in yet another way in this study. One characteristic of Pound that seems immutable relative to many of his others is his anti-Semitism, and from the beginning of this study Carpenter is dogged in exposing the poet's prejudice with the many illustrations available, not so much to analyze as to exhibit it as a major flaw in Pound's personality - a flaw stemming from or related to what Carpenter views as the man's lifelong intellectual immaturity and superficiality. Throughout Pound's adult life there...