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Ezra Pound's greatness as a man of letters - poet, translator, critic, editor, pedagogue, universal correspondent - made him a central figure in the literature of the twentieth century. He was an exotic and controversial character throughout his life, and his public career achieved melodrama in l945 when he was indicted on a charge of treason, for broadcasting Axis propaganda on Rome radio during the war. He was eventually confined to a Washington psychiatric hospital for thirteen years. The final period of his life, after his release and return to Italy, was as dramatic - and tragic - as anything that had gone before.In this vigorous and fully documented biography Humphrey Carpenter carefully scrutinizes and often takes issue with the accepted valuation of Pound's achievements and his personality. He had access to Pound's vast correspondence - including highly revealing letters to his parents - and to medical records and confidential American government memoranda relating to Pound's indictment and trial. A Serious Character is rich in fascinating detail and acutely challenging in its judgements and commentary. Its title is taken from one of Pound's favourite sayings (first recorded in 1913): 'Are you or are you not, a serious character?'.
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About the Author

Humphrey Carpenter was born and educated in Oxford, and attended the Dragon School and Keble College. He was a well-known biographer and children's writer, and worked previously as a producer at the BBC. He wrote biographies of J. R. R. Tolkien, W. H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, Ezra Pound, C. S. Lewis and Dennis Potter. Among his many books for children were the best-selling Mr Majeika series. He also wrote several plays for the theatre and radio. A keen musician, he was a member of a 1930s-style jazz band, Vile Bodies, which was resident at the Ritz Hotel in London for a number of years. He died in 2005.

Reviews

Here in massive, and for the average reader perhaps excessive, detail is a comprehensive biography of a man variously regarded , often by the same critic, as crackpot, ass and major poet with an incomparable ear for language. Carpenter, biographer also of Tolkien and Auden, does a superb job of bringing us what might be called the whole Pound: his generosity and blindness, his failures and achievements as poet and critic, his often strained friendships with the likes of Eliot, Hemingway and William Carlos Williams, his early impact on literary London. Also examined are the poet's pro-Fascist and virulently anti-Semitic World War II broadcasts from Italy, which earned him confinement in a Washington mental institution, and the final, sad Italian years. Carpenter's approach is fair, his prose cool, crisp and lively, and his narrative laced with shrewd comment on Pound's work, in particular the Cantos, which Pound finally deemed a ``botch''a judgment that most readers of this book will probably not share. Photos. (Dec.)

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