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In his anonymous profile of Lewis in the Observer of August 5, 1956, celebrating the major exhibition of Lewis’s work at the Tate Gallery, Porteus was characteristically positive, but now more aware of Lewis’s limitations: “It is a perennial fault of Lewis the novelist that his characters and narrative seem to be kept in a semblance of life only by brilliant feats of intellectual manipulation.” In his last article on Lewis, a review-essay on Walter Michel’s Wyndham Lewis: Paintings and Drawings in Agenda (Spring l971), he wrote: “It is probably as true now as in his lifetime, I suppose, that Lewis affronts and leaves cold, by his own cool humour and detachment, more people than he attracts by his gifts of uncommon sense and intelligent mockery.” He then defends Lewis and explains his formidable achievement.

The versatile Porteus had been an artist, wireless operator, advertising man, journalist, map designer, book reviewer, magazine editor, RAF signalman, précis writer, sinologist, gardener and art critic, but he never achieved prolonged success in any of these professions. Though he modelled himself on Lewis and was a pale reflection of the Master, the two men had a great deal in common. Both were talented linguists (Porteus also knew some Turkish and Russian), wrote poetry and art criticism, endured long periods of poverty, had unconventional marriages, nourished right-wing political ideas and shared many friends, including Eliot, whom Porteus called “sepulchral and lugubrious”. He too, as he said of Lewis, had a wide-ranging curiosity and impressive virtuosity.

Porteus was not Prince Lewis nor was meant to be, but an attendant lord to provoke a scene or two. But many famous writers valued the friendship of their lively and stimulating, learned and devoted companion. Dedicated to art and literature, he clearly understood and was a passionate advocate of their difficult and provocative work.
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