Thursday, October 23, 2008

Edward Carpenter

Sheila Rowbotham has published a new biography of Edward Carpenter and has written on him in Open Democracy. I haven't done much work on Carpenter, though her claim that "his own name has been largely and undeservedly forgotten", seems a bit overblown. I see references to him everywhere and hers is neither the first full biography to have been written, nor is it the only one in print. Carpenter was part of a wider radical left movement on the fringes of Anarchism, some neglected (often justly) and some remembered. It interests and its influence spread wider than may seem apparent at first glance.

Note too Rowbotham's mention of Carpenter's occasional expression of anti-Semitic sentiments. Though familiar today from its current anti-Zionist guise, we need to remember that casual left anti-Semitism is not new. It has been lurking in the shadows for a long time. It is good to see it openly recognised. Not just for this reason, the book is one for my reading list.

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