Virginia Hamilton Louis D. Mitchell - Essay

Louis D. Mitchell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Virginia Hamilton is a craftsman, often good at being just that and nothing more. Biographical artist she is not, in [Paul Robeson: The Life and Times of a Free Black Man], perhaps because of her lack of range and her deficient sympathy in capturing, even for children, the protean character of Paul Robeson. She merely suggests and, given the stature of Robeson, one ought to expect and receive more depth, more insight from a biographer. Perhaps this biography has merit in being pitched to a youthful reader's level—if one is to consider the very young as less intelligent, less worthy of art, less lucid in perception.

Robeson has suffered greatly for his opinions but he stands immensely above and beyond those who tried to destroy him, to abuse him, to rid the world of his vast talents and influence. But, as he so proudly put it, "The problem of Othello is the problem of my own people. It is a tragedy of racial conflict, a tragedy of honor rather than of jealousy." Unfortunately, Miss Hamilton does not capture this spirit, this outlook. (pp. 474-75)

Louis D. Mitchell, in his review of "Paul Robeson: The Life and Times of a Free Black Man," in Best Sellers (copyright 1975, by the University of Scranton), Vol. 34, No. 20, January 15, 1975, pp. 474-75.