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April 03, 1940 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1940-04-03

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Page Twelve


7lati'e you

7Ake taopk tar'

(Continued from Page 11)
augurated what 'may be the most fruit-
ful and the most creative period in our
literary history. We now have a few
novelists in America (and among these
Wright stands near the head of the
list) who feel their material deeply and
authentically, who possess a perspective
which enables them to understand the
interconnection of the social and psy-
chological aspects of experience, and
who have consequently achieved a struc-
tural craftsmanship that enables them
to embody their conceptions in a warm
and vital manner.
Even the best efforts of Henry Seidel
Canby, whose patronizing review for the
Book-of-the-Month Club is reprinted
by the publishers on the covers of Native
Son cannot obscure the plain meaning
and the great significance of the book.
Together with most of the professional
reviewers, whose esthetic judgments
have been blunted by anti-social pre-
judices (in this case racial), Canby
lingers over the outward, sensational as-
pects of the story. It is true, of course,
that the narrative of Bigger Thomas'
brief existence is exciting and brutal. It
is bloody and lurid, involving two mur-
ders, the burning of one of he bodies,
a man-hunt over the tenement roofs
of the Chicago Black Belt, and a melo-
dramatic trial. But it becomes apparent
immediately that the scenes of violence
of life in a segregated community and
the sensitive social documentation of
the lives of Bigger and his family and
his pool-room pals are visualized in
terms of a conception that gives pro-
found meaning to the parts and to the
whole. For Wright is concerned here
with a mode of life, distorted and blunt-
ed, life lived in cramped limits and ex-
pressin gitself not in terms of good and
bad but in terms of its own fulfillment.
Bigger Thomas' life and deat. repre-
sents a search for self-realization Looked
at from the outside Bigger is the murder-
er (accidentally) of Mary Dalton, the
radical daughter of his whtie millionaire
employer; he is the murderer of his
sweetheart Bessie Mears, whom he bat-
tered with a brick in an abandoned
building out of fear that she would
betray him. As far as the police and
the press are concerned he is a "sex-
slayer" who killed out of "primitive lust."
The important thing however, is that al-
though Bigger's crime was accidental,
the emotions that broke loose were
already there. He murdered Mary Dal-
ton without thinking, without plan, with-
out conscious motive. But after he mur-
dered, he accepted the crime. It was
the first full act of his life; it was the
most meaningful and exciting thing
that had ever happened to him. He ac-
cepted it because it made him free, gave
him the possibility of choice, of action,
the opportunity to act and to feel that
his actions carried weight. Wright is
dealing here with impulses stemming
from deep down: not with haw man acts
toward man, but how a man acts when
he feels that he must defend himself
against the total natural world in which
he lives. The central fact here is "not
who wronged this boy, but what kind of
vision of the world did he have before
his eyes, and where did he get such a
The two prize stories in this issue,
"Burglary On Locust Street" and
"Waiting," have been submitted to
the all-college contest being con-
ducted by Story Magazine.
The editors of Perspectives also
wish to announce that the story
adjudged best of those printed in
any issue this year will be sub-
mitted in the Redbook short story
contest for college students, Their
choice will be announced after the
final issue. Redbook has offered re-

publication and a $500 prize to the
best college story of the year.
Thanks are due to Wahr's and The
Bookroom for the loan of books re-
viewed in this issue.

vision as to make him, without premedi-
tation, snatch the life of another per-
son so quickly and instictively that even
thought there was an element of ,acci-
dent in it, he was willing after the crime
to say: 'Yes; I did it. I had to'."
The bold conception of Native Son is
executed in a supreme manner. The
story of Bigger's fear, flight and death is
told in three long sections, each one of
which sweeps toward a logical climax.
Bigger's growth and development, his re-
nunciation of fear in favor of a new,
humility springing from an identifica-
tion with the forces represented by Mr.
Max, the Labor Defense Lawyer, are
dramatically presented. It is a courage-
ous theme, expertly and courageously

THE DARK STAR, by March Cost
(Alfred A. Knopf.)
ANDERING between two worlds."
This is the disembodied feeling
with which ones leaves The Dark Star.
It is, as well, the mood of the whole
book. Miss Cost has drawn for us the
picture of two supremely creative minds
in the process of finding each other in
timeless love. The book covers eighteen
years, in which Eden Loring Mure, a
great actor and producer, discovers
Fanny Wreath and makes her the
greatest feminine actor of - the time.
Throughout the book there is a strong
current of undiscovered love, and Eden
and Fanny must find this before their
lives may become complete.
Fanny is herself a disembodied spirt,
who reminds one of Ariel in The Tem-

Ile Anw, Ile Apmoup

No ARMS, No ARMOUR by Rob-
ert Henriques. Farrar and
"No more defenceless, maybe no less
Than the plump peacock, or the prime
cock pheasant ,
A gilded company, a noble state
They keep
No arms, no armour against fate."
SUCH is the verse from which Mr.
Henriques draws his title. Allowing
for the niceties of metaphor, such is the
"gilded company" of the British army;
or it might be said, such 'sas the army
until the late thirties. Preparation for
a new war has manifested itself in the
useful weeding-out, as Ir. Henriques
suggests, of the regulars and official
corps. The caste system has practically
disintegrated, and career men are ham-
mering diligently, and successfully for
the most part, at the gates of official-
"No arms, no armour against fate," is
what Mr. Henriques labels the condi-
tion of the average soldier. He resorts to
what seems allegory to strip the soldier
of pseudo-romantic effects, and shows
him naked, defenceless before the world.
There is the embodiment of two con-
flicting forces, humanism, as seen in the
character of Sammy, Major-General of
the Battery of one hundred and fifty
men, and "Daddy" or Willie Watson,
First Lieutenant of the Battery, the one
armed with goodness, the other shiver-
ing, sour, viciously resentful of the world
and its frailties.
The leading role is personified by
Tubby Windrush, soldier. Crude, body-
conscious, he lives only for the present,
reveling in the smells, the sounds, the
life-beat of soldiering. An accident in
a horse race hospitalizes him and his
awakening from anesthesia is multi-
fold in its consequences. Bed-ridden,
his false armour gone, he ponders. He
searches into the wells of his being,
shallow wells born of a stupid life, a
soldier's life. Staring through the sky-
light above his bed, he reviews the life
of one Percival (Tubby) Windrush,
commissioned officer of the British
occupational army of 1928. He fingers
mentally through the lives of his
General, brilliant, courageous, defence-
less; Bert, Sergeant, a wonder with the
animals, kind, stupid, defenceless;
Daddy, pessimistic, tyrannous, sick-at-
heart, defenceless; Sammy, trusting,
armed to the teeth, but needing no
armour. Tubby leaves the hospital, bro-
ken shoulder cured, a new man. With
the daily visits of Lydia, for whom he
perceives the awakenings of a deep love
and need, and of Sammy, who turned
him ever within in the search for truth,
he has changed considerably. His un-
derstanding of life, his acceptance of
it and its purpose increases. Hopeful of
consent, he fumblingly asks return of
his love from Lydia, but is repulsed
through lack of understanding. Lydia

has not perceived his change, his
Uprisings in British Africa calls the
army from its temporary moorings in
England. They are tucked away there,
long after their work has been done.
Daddy, railing incessantly against the
negligence and inertia of the higher
official body, speaks for this branch of
the army, which is among the lower
levels of the pyramid of officialdom.
In the Orient, where life looms large,
Tubby continues his search for truth.
The death of Sammy in an onslaught
by native tribesmen deprives him of a
constant companion, a man, yet immor-
tal. Only Daddy, pathetic in his bitter-
ness, remains. As Tubby's mind expands
in its consciousness, he sees Daddy's
peculiar kind of armour, the fighting
spirit. Never acquiescing, he is never
overpowered. With every blow from life
he deals two back. However, Tubby and
Daddy, analyst and pessimist find it in-
creasingly difficult to live together. The
younger goes alone into the desert for
two weeks, seeking the source of the
Gallander river, a tributary of the Nile.
He experiences pain, but comes to know
it as the primary element of experience.
Tranquillity pervades him, as he finds
himself, and conquers the brutish com-
placency of the soldier that was Second
Lieutenant Windrush. He has redis-
covered the power that was in himself to
know everything. Until now, he could
not use the power. He knew nothing,
except that there was nothing to know.
He had found himself within the bounds
of conception.
Upon return to Khartoum and civil-
ization, he finds Daddy dead. Whether
suicide was the means or accident, the
reader and Tubby are left to deduce.
Tubby understood Daddy; he believes
it suicide, Daddy's only surrender. Later
back in England, on leave, Windrush is
reunited with Lydia, with whom he con-
tinues in his search for the truth.
The story is for both men and women,
for though it largely concerns the army,
it is no exhaustive jumble of technicali-
ties, but an expose of the minds of men
and their women. From the "wine, wo-
men, and horses" existence described
vividly in the beginning, the reader is
taken into the intimacies and intricacies
of the human mind. He sees the birth
of a man, and his subsequent growth.
He penetrates with the author contrast-
ing philosophies, methods of living that
are analysed, pitched one against the
other. M;. Henriques writes eloquently
albeit in a martial spirirt. His language
is vigorous. His poesy, if it could be
drawn, would appear in the form of
square, rough-edged. There is balance
and rhythm plus a deep inner-con-
sciousness in his writing. However, a
somewhat irritating repetition of
thought and language exists. Heaviness
hovers over the work, as though it were
with an effort that the novel was writ-
ten. Withal, as a first attempt, it is a
formidable weapon.

pest. She is a wraith who floats through
a short life on this earth, never touching
the sordidness of this life, hardly know-
ing that it exists. In Eden Loring, a
like spirit, as well as a hard-headed
business man she finds a resting place
where she may light for a little while
before she soars into the Infinite to
become but an intangible memory. One
feels that Fanny is indeed a bit of the
Eternity to which she belonged,
The book is full of the philosophy of
Time, reincarnation, and the timeless-
ness of the spirit. For one who likes to
dabble in these intangible thoughts, the
book is a treasury in itself.
The Dark Star is written in an inter-
esting manner. The first of the three
books is the life of Fanny and Eden, as
he remembers it. In it we cover the
whole of the eighteen years. The second
book is the present of Fanny, who has
been separated from Eden for some
three years. We see her only as she is
recovering from an accident, of which
Eden Loring hears in the first book,
when he comes out of his reverie. The
last book is concerned with the meeting
of Eden and Fanny,
The method used by Miss Cost to por-
tray for us the future is unique. We
leave Fanny on the docks of Liverpool
waiting for Eden to disembark. But
Fanny's psychic powers have shown us
their future together. Fanny knows the
future. She can live in past, present, and
future, that when she falls into a trance
and dreams of the future, that which
will take place. The difference between
Fanny's mind and those of the hard-
headed mortals around her is clarified
in the fact that the doctors and nurses
around her think she is insane. Fanny
is not insane, and Miss Cost does not
try to explain for us the workings of that
mind. We know only that the mind does
not belong to the average individual. It
is a phenomenon in this everyday world.
It is a creative power too great for this
life of the senses.
In actual time the book covers seven
days. Monday is the reverie of Eden
Loring. Tuesday is the day in which
Fanny goes into the trance, and on
Wednesday and Thursday we see the
future unroll before Fanny's occult
powers. Friday she awakens and plans
her Saturday escape from the hospital,
and on Sunday Loring comes back to
Miss Cost has written a highly ima-
ginative book, but it is full of the deep
understanding which the author has of
human emotion. The English is sweet
and strong, and there are passages of
pure lyrical beauty. The sequence of
events is at times rather incoherent,
but this very fault only heightens the
mood of the work.
Miss Cost has given us, throughout
the book, a very fine picture of the Eng-
lish theater from 1900 up to the present
day, The reader feels that he is shar-
ing with the actors and producers some
of their triumphs and setbacks. One
gains a wider view of life from the work,
as well as the experience of a mental
and spiritual stimulus which is lacking
in many books of today.

Cray #(vt tep

ing awareness, a new consciousness in
her writing. The implications inherent
in The White Horses of Vienna, and
Death of a Man have reached a fuller
flowering. Thanks are due, in great
part, to Katherine Anne Porter from
whom Kay Boyle has obviously learned
a great deal. But regardless of the
source, here is growth. Kay Boyle may
no longer be classified merely as in
exceptionally talented wBiter, for in
"The Crazy Hunter," she proves herself
to be a great artist.
- Howard Moss

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