By Oliver La large
THE internal evidence suggests that The Copper Pot is a pre-war manuscript hastily revised for timeliness. Or it may be a premature attempt to redeem something outgrown by sticking in something not yet grown up to. That something is consciousness of the war and of the general state of the world in the year 1941; and, being stuck in, it sticks out, as the afterthoughts of novelists mostly do. To Mr. La Farge’s chief character, a young painter just outgrowing his callowness and about to cross the threshold of success and prestige, the war appears to be completely nonexistent most of the time; and yet his infrequent awareness of it is represented as that of a man whose emotional life it has so permeated and obsessed that lie can hardly think of anything else. It is difficult to explain him as anything but a pre-war conception dragged up to date by topical interpolations strange to everything he was created to be and to mean. The final effect is to reduce the global tragedy, the disaster of mankind, to a convenient fictional device for resolving the difficulties of one egotist’s mismanaged affairs and getting him out of a personal, passional impasse. And that is a pity, for as an American Viede Boheme and portrait of the artist as a young man The Copper Pot has integrity and evident authenticity, not to speak of its news value to the curious as a conspectus of yesterday’s group of young artists in the French Quarter of New Orleans. W. F.