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March 08, 1964 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1964-03-08
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BARBARY SHORE by Norman Mailer. Gros-
set and Dunlap, 1963, 312 pages, $1.65.
Burgess. W. W. Norton and Co., 1963,
188 pages, 95 cents.
Norman Mailer, according to Norman
Podhoretz, has always been given over
to extreme positions and to a stubborn
resistance to being influenced by others'
"Barbary Shore," now out in paperback,
is a product of his bygone dedication to
radical socialism.
The book operates on the assumption
that the modern consciousness has been
profundly affected by the betrayal of the
Russian revolution by bureaucrats dedi-
cated to power and not ideology. The
assumption could certainly be valid, and
in any case it's highly provocative.
To Mailer, the modern world has been
shorn of almost all hope of attaining the
spiritual and political reformation offered
by Marxian and Trotskyite socialism. It
has been left confused, passionless, with
few possibilities other than a vigorous
pursuit of "the fever of small passions."
Mailer gets his theme across by means
of an elaborate allegory. His characters
are credible enough as real people, but
their main value-and the main value of
the book-lies in their role in the alle-
gorical structure.
The book's major action centers around
the interrogation, by a State Department
agent, of a former important Red Army
officer who served the Soviet state's
brutal purposes in the Balkans.
The ex-officer, MacLeod, had left his
post when he could no longer justify
prostituting the socialist ideal to expe-
dient cruelty and disregard for human
values. He fled to America during the
War, worked for the State Department,
where he allowed his brains to be picked,
and finally disappeared to seek a more
satisfying vindication in a return to pure
socialist theory.
But when MacLeod left the department,
he allegedly stole a "little object." Mailer
never identifies the object, but presum-
ably it is Faith or Hope or Dedication.
In his tiny room on the top floor of a
rundown Brooklyn rooming house, Mac-
Leod submits to questioning by Hollings-
worth, the government representative,
who knows his complete history and has
been directed to recover the object.
What happens in these sessions is de-
scribed by Lovett, a directionless and pas-
sionless ex-Trotskyite with an amnesia
that is symbolic of the modern loss of
faith in the future once held by socialism.
A fourth participant in the questioning
is Lannie, a waif-like woman who was
once intimately connected with the exiled
Trotsky, probably the courier whose close-
ness to the revolutionary was used by a
Stalinist agent in the murder plot.
"There is neither guilt nor innocence,
but there is vigor in what we do or lack
of it."
To Lannie there is no longer a "world
to make," as there was at the time of
the Revolution, "for the world devours."
Only evil is left. In her search for self
expression she befriends Hollingsworth,
who can offer her, for his position in the
government, at least an energetic, ongoing
cause in which she can immerse herself.
But Hollingsworth, according to Pod-
horetz's introduction, is "the creature of
conditions he neither controls nor com-
prehends." He is given over to petty
sadism, and as such he directly portrays
the dominant factions of both world
powers in their headlong rush towards
Ultimately Hollingsworth persuades
MacLeod to give over the object. But in
the last act of dedication to the revolu-
tionary ideal, MacLeod demurs and passes
the object on to Lovett.
It can be nothing but an indication of
the futility with which that ideal clings
to life that Lovett, without a dynamic
political awareness, with neither past nor
future, is an extremely poor continuation.
As the book closes, Lovett flees "down the
alley which led from that rooming house,
only to enter another, and then another,,
obliged to live waiting for the signs"

which tell him he must move on again.
If all that is left to modern man is a
vigorous but free self-expression, Anthony
Burgess pictures a society of the future-
where such a pursuit is not only prevelant
but comes to be the only redemption for
the human spirit.
In his recent novel, "A Clockwork
Orange," Burgess portrays an England of
a few years hence in which social prob-
lems seem to have been left untouched,
and indeed worsened-by the erection
of huge barracks-like housing projects,

... mailer and burgess
and the
free pursuit of passion

that mock individuality, the evolution of
policemen into ignorant and sadistic
beasts, the decay of rehabilitative efforts
in prisons and a stringent political cen-
In the first third of the book the reader
follows the narrator-gang leader and his
cohorts from one act of terrorism to an-
other, until finally the police catch up
with the gang. The rest of the gang runs,
and the leader is left to face an eventual
prison sentence.
The prison situation is completely un-
conducive to any type of reform; it is
simply one concentrated opportunity for
the refinement of crime. But then the
gang leader murders a fellow-prisoner,
and it is decided that he will be the first
victim of a novel method for recondition-
ing criminals as useful members of
Given injections of a nauseating drug'
and strapped into a chair with his eyes
held open and his head forward, the sub-
ject is shown hour on hour of films of all
the inhumanities that men have ever
dreamed up, from Nazi tortures to the
same street scenes with which he is so
After weeks of this perverted Pavlov-
ianism, he is no longer capable of even
an evil thought, for every time one would
come to him he feels himself getting sick.
He must think of a different way of act-
ing towards the person confronting him
if he wants to keep from throwing up.
Even the one refined enjoyment he had-
listening to Bach and Beethovenhas
been denied him, for classical music was
played during the conditioning sessions.
After the teenager has been released,
he wanders into the hands of some po-
litical dissenters who feel that the gov-
ernment's plans to destroy men's ability
to choose are abhorrent. But they are
interested in him only as a device for
winning elections, and they even make
efforts to have him destroy himself to
make their case before the public more
A good part of the language Burgess
gives to his "heroes" is an odd collection
of anglicized Russian words used as slang.
For the most part the device is only con-
fusing to the reader who does not know
Russian and seems to have no inherent
justification, yet certain expressions are
ingeniously satiric. From the Russian
khorosho, for good, Burgess derives "hor-
rorshow;" from lyudi, for people, "lewd-
ies;" from militsia, for police, "milli-
cents;" and from golova, for head, "gul-
But even more noteworthy is what
Burgess has to say: in a society where:
human beings must be conditioned to act

in socially acceptable ways, only the free
and unhampered pursuit of evil may re-
main to represent the human spirit. The
view certainly has relevance in an age of
science, rapidly changing morality and
recurrent discussions about tradition and
conformity versus unconstrained indi-
Burgess' view fits remarkably well with
Mailer's. His society is not .ugly for the
fact that mass conditioning is to be prac-
ticed, but because hope, courage and in-
dividuality have been so completely lost
that such conditioning is not at all out of
place. To Mailer these losses were a func-
tion of the betrayal of radical socialism,
but to both authors there is little left
except the free pursuit of human
passions. --Jeffrey Goodman
ANIMAL WORLDS by Marston Bates, Ran-
dom House, 1963, 316 pages, $15.00.
JUST IN TIME for second semester,
Marston Bates's newest book has
arrived. This book, unlike his previous
ones, is got up in a manner which is quite
visually appealing. It is big enough to
fit any coffee table comfortably (81;%x11)
and has magazine-type layout with hun-
dreds of pictures, many in color, photos
by Ylla, Emil Schulthess and all your
favorite animal photographers. T h e
15,000-copy first printing was sold out
before publication, which is enough to
warm the hearts of everyone connected
with the book, I am sure.
"Animal Worlds" is written in the char-
acteristic folksy style which has endeared
Bates to readers and students alike. For
instance, "Baboons have a special interest
because they are primates, and we are-
always curious about our relatives," or
"In the case of the musk ox, we can watch
the process of extinction, whether we
understand it or not."
But the book is also packed with statis-
tics, chart-type drawings, and descrip-
tions of recent ecological studies, with
comments. Folksy or not, there is a great
deal of interesting and pertinent infor-
The book makes no pretense of being
a textbook, but neither is it a Little
Golden Book. It is a sort of survey of
animal environments, with more space
devoted to the more colorful and interest-
ing ones than to those whose importance
is more of ,a purely academic nature. But
there is also, for instance, a three page
discussion of Territory and Home Range,
with two bird migration maps to boot.
Reflecting Bates's anthropological bent,
the book finishes off with chapters called
"The Human Animal," "Getting Along
with Man," and "Natural History in

Cities." This last is concerned with bed-
bugs, zoos, rats, population explosions in
humans and animals both, and a history
of the goldfish bowl.
"Animal Worlds" is notable mainly for
its scope, not only of subject matter, but
of viewpoint and values as well. Purely
scholarly books must usually be con-
structed with a precision which makes
them too dry for the ordinary reader, and
written at a level past the presumedly
learned basics of the field, which makes
them inaccessible to him. Populariza-
tions, on the other hand, tend too often
to be unauthoritative, rapid, even fatuous,
"Animal Worlds" solves both these prob-
lems, and is written from a rich human-
istic viewpoint.
Joseph Wood Krutch says on the jacket
"I can think of no better introduction to
natural history," and while that's the
kind of quotation you expect on a book
jacket, it's closer to the truth than you
might count on.
--Richard Pollinger
RICHARD STRAUSS: Ein Heldenleben ("A
Hero's Life"). Erich Leinsdorf conduct-
ing the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
RCA VICTOR Stereo LSC 2641, $5.98
(Monaural LM 2641, $4.98).
RICHARD STRAUSS is cited in Hans
Fantel's interesting program notes as
an "accomplice to all the wiles of audio
engineering." If he was, he reckoned
without the newest and most controver-
sial product of today's recording indus-
try, RCA Victor's "Dynagroove" process.
Nor could any recording advance (if
Dynagroove is indeed an advance, which
is not a question so easily answered)
hope for a better test than Strauss's mon-
umental tribute to the life of that enig-
matic "Hero" generally conceded to be
none other than Strauss himself. In ad-
dition to the usual strings, the score calls
for piccolo, three flutes, three oboes, Eng-
lish horn, three clarinets-one in E-flat
and two in B-flat-plus bass clarinet,
three bassoons and contrabassoon, eight
horns, five trumpets, three trombones,
tenor and bass tubas, tympani, bass drum,
small and large military drums, cymbals
and two harps. It is no wonder, then, that
recording the work is a formidable task.
Dynagroove, unfortunately, seems to
compound the problem. To be sure, a
great deal of clarity allows many here-
tofore hidden instrumental details to
emerge; and yet the listener may often
get the impression that the supposedly
stereo sound appears somewhat two-di-
mensional. For reasons which are Inob-
ably better understood by the engineers
who conceived the record, the sound
somehow just doesn't sound right; it
doesn't really sound "natural."
The blurb on the record jacket says the
record has "brilliance"; indeed it does,
to the extent that a treble cut might be
advisable. The jacket notes also say the
record sounds full-bodied at any level
and has practically no inner-groove dis-
tortion. The consensus of opinion on Dy-
nagroove would appear to be that it
sounds "full-bodied" (?) at any level
because it is meant to sound good on
inexpensive equipment, to the detriment
of the sound one obtains on a fairly de-
cent set of components; and while dis-
tortion is certainly low in the inner
grooves, it is not at all nonexistent in
climaxes elsewhere on the record.
Those who see nothing wrong with the
sound will find that it projects qtite a
good performance of the work itself.
Leinsdorf is not one to let his Strauss
spill all over the place, like one ?hiladel-
phia Orchestra conductor I could name;
and he handles Strauss' unwieldy orches-
tration with unalloyed skill. The offstage
brass introduction to the battle scene
comes off effectively, and the oattle it-
self, forgetting the somewhat bass-shy
sound, is imbued with verve.
The performance is not the essence of
uerfection the jacket notes would have
one believe (as in those occasions of
unsteady playing and hasty entrances
which crop up in even the best of per-
formances onstage, but which really
should be corrected by the tape editors

following a recording session). I am not
yet ready to give up the Leopold Ludwig
performance on Everest (which at least
sounds like an orchestra throughout, and
not a recording); but Leinsdorf's ver-
sion certainly deserves to be heard, and-
within its own frame of reference-en-
joyed. Perhaps RCA Victor's next Dyna-
groove releases will have sound of the
same high caliber as that of the recorded
performances e -Steven Hailer

Vol. V, No. 8


Sunday, March 8, 1964

-Cover by Terry Malik

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