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November 12, 1939 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1939-11-12

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- - - ~r~--t-~-------..--,.-.ILL-

IN

THE

WORLD

OF BOOKS

a i 1'

a -

OEN. :

Anghians*
in indct.'..'

oilfe Reports
On Americans

LARRELL: WRITES IN NEW LOCALE

At

KNARCISSUS, by Rtuner
iden. Little, Brown and Cor-
y. $2.50. Courtesy Follett's
k Store.
By ELBI GIENI
p in the Himalayan Mountains,
native-worshipped Mout Kan-
ungha watching over them at
work, the Sisters of the Angli-
)rder sought .to establish the
nt of Saint Faith.
rn Darjeeling to Mopu, Sister
gh led her small band of "real
Christ ladies" to whom the
s salaamed and addressed as;
i. At Mopu they settled in the
al's Palace, which had, at one
housed the many concubines
General's father. It was the
Palace in which the Brother-
the preceding year, had estab-
Saint Saviour's School. The
erhood abandoned the Palace
five months, and, try as he.
,the General was unable to dis-
from them why they had given

parison. Words such as fresh and
vigorous sound trite in describing it,
but that is ust what it is.hThemau-
thor of "Black Narcissus" has man-
aged to put life and human beings
into a convent, make a religious at-
mosphere seem real and, even in this
day, natural, to a reader who, him-
self, can see no place in the world for
convents and very little for the deep-
ly religious. That, in itself is a great
accomplishment, and no less is her
magical ability to create a what's-
going-to-happen-next atmosphere
from the first page to the last with
no decrease in intensity.

,a

I

n Spain's War

'The Lincoln Battalion'
Is Well lDocumented,
Historical Account
THE LINCOLN BATTALION, by
Edwin Rolfe, Random House. $2.50.

TOMMY GALLAGH.ER'S CUSADE| Ied his language and style to fit the fairly decent home, where the wor-
bysaspe.FresVofaTher new locale. rding mother and the patient father,.
Book Room. If there is any one thing that dif- coupled with the two brothers work-
ferentiates Chicago and New York,. ing at recognized and remunerative
by MORTON NDER it is the way of speaking. And Far- jobs, make life seemingly unbearable
Once Joe Jacobs, a fight manager, rell here is using Perry St. and In- for Tommy, whose sole occupation
little in repute and big of mouth, is selling Father Moylan's magazine,
diana talk on Forty-Second St. and "Christian Justice", which tells what
said of one of his boys: "he should Broadway. It doesn't work out very the crusading priest thinks about the
of stood in bed." So it might be said well, because he has not caught the Reds.
of James Farrell and his latest tone and spirit of Gotham; he has Probably the reason why the read-
"down-to-earth" effort, Tommy Gal- invaded the realm of O'Hara and er is disappointed and reaches the
lagher's Crusade: "he should of stood Weideman without adequate prep- end of the very short book, which is
in Chicago." For, in this most recent aration. more of a sketch than anything else,
of his adolescent psychological stor- But this is a minor criticism com- is that Farrell does not take advan-
ies, Farrell has shifted the scene pared to the fact that the whole ef- tage of the situation he has created.
from Chicago, where Studs Lonigan fort falls flat. Farrell here raws a In Studs Lonigan, for example, or
and Danny O'Neil carried on, to New picture of a young man, sold on the even in A World I Never Made and
York. We don't want to start any idea of Christian justice and con- No Star is Lost, he did a masterful
controversies as - to the respective vinced that the only way to set the job of psychological analysis, pre-
merits of these spots, but, in consid- world right is to clear out all the senting characters, at once under-
ering the book, it is most important Jews and the Communists. The lad, I standable and complete. But here,
to note that the author has not var- Tommy . Gallagher, coming from a he neglects to give his character any

semblance of reality. And when the
half-hour it takes to read, it has spun
itself, you are left with the notion
of a psychopathic case, who would
have dropped his crusade against the
"aliens" in a second if he only could
get a girl .to smile at him. In other
words, Farrell is here trying to pre-
sent a social criticism, for this is ob-
viously a smack at Father Coughlin
and his insane rantings, and he al-
lows his spokesman in the story,
Tommy Gallagher, to appear Is
nothing more than a mental case.
This, of course, weakens any of the
arguments presented and the pur-
pose of the book is negated and lost.
If Tommy Gallagher's Crusade

I

Howard Spring
Novel Relates
tory Of Sums
HEAVEN LIES ABOUT US. By How.,
ard Spring. With illustrations by
Fritz Kredel. 134 pp. New York:
The Viking Press. $2.25.

hen, soon after the Sisters' arrival,
Dean, the Resident Agent. at
u, was warning Sister Clodagh
er venture, "Well, if you're quite
rmined, I give you to the break
.e next rains."
n this background Rumer God-
weaves her tale of Sister Superior
.agh, striving for harmony with-'
he Convent and for cooperation
out; Sister Briony, seeking to
the sores of the natives and edu-
the ignorant mothers; Sister
.ch working in the Lace School,
ting to do something for the chil-
; .Sister Ruth teaching classes
he children; and Sister Phillippa
ting lilies and crocus, wishing
laffodils and jonquils.
om the outset, the Sisters had
' troubles and setbacks. The un-
h (thought Sister Clodagh) Mr.
a, although an unreplaceable
; to the Convent so far as build-
arrangements, advice and 'pub-
elations' work with the natives
, at other times was a thorn in
flesh to the Sister Superior and
idered a necessary evil. An-
r thorn was Kanchi, the ripe
g native girl Mr. Dean had
ed upon the convent who realized
the best way to escape her
ly reputation was to lie low for
itable, period and appear to be
ber, studious young lady. Thorn
ber three, with by far the sharp-
point, was the naive, handsome
g Dilip Rai, son of the General,
practically forced his way into
Convent for lessons, dressed in
y cloths and colors, and drenched
elf with scent, earning the nick-
e Black Narcissus.
r it was the fairy-tale-like ap-
ances of Dilip Rai that had such
astrous effect on the Sisters, or
hey believed. True, they would
,dmit to any such effect, but they
new in their hearts that some-
was awry. Why should Sister
agh dream of Ireland and of
Why should Sister Ruth feel
Ze did toward Mr. Dean? Why
r Blanche's intense interest in
children? They all found they
1 believe anything was possible
seeing the young General. And
hing could in the shadow of
it Kanchenjungha.
s Godden's story is faintly
tiscent of Thornton Wilder's
ge of San Luis Rey" in its mysti-
its Convent of Saint Faith could
be an Hiltonian Shangri-La
wrong; not only the style, but
the theme brings to mind W.+
rset Maugham's "Rain."
s is not to say that Miss Godden
o original style of her own, but is
to be used as a basis for com-+

If one looks at the dreary street,
and the poverty, and the relentless
struggle for existence-the mother
took in washing and from the age
of 12 the children worked-if one
looks merely at all this the title
seems ironic. How could' Heaven'
lie about Howard Spring in his in-
fancy if his infancy was as grimly
circumstanced as this? Well, the
answer is that it did. The distin-
guished author of "My Son, My
Son!" and literary critic of The Lon-
don Evening Standard spent hiam
childhood in what can only be des-
cribed as a slum; or rather in a suc-
cession of slums, moving the furni-
ture in a handcart, "as poor people
do." He workedat odd jobs before
he left school, but he left school at
12 to become a full-time wage-earn-
er. Nobody ever thought of spending
any money on amusements, and he
was 17 before he had his first holi-
day. But the books which recalls
all this is neither sad nor over-dra-
matic. It is a simple and forthright
little story of how they lived and
worked and played, and got a good
deal out of life, and never paused for
self-pity. Nor does Mr.' Spring pause
now for self-praise. .i
Sunday nights they used to sit
around the kitchen fire and read-'
not rubbish, because their father,
a garden laborer and a dour, secre-
tive man, could n'ot endure that sort
of reading, but good old books: "The
Pilgrim's Progress," for one, and
"Robinson Crusoe." The children had
to read aloud and" pronounce the
words correctly. "So we became ac-
quainted with wholesome English,"
the author says. Years later, when
he was working by day and taking
university courses at night, he must
have been thankful for that early
discipline! But the children had fun,
too. Even when they played in the
street they had fun. Then when How-
ard Spring got a job as office boy
on a newspaper, that was the be-
ginning of a different kind of life.
This is an excellent little book. Its
story is interesting, and its implica-
tions are as significant as they are
unforced and unemotionalized.
-The New York Times
Rabinowitz To Speak
Dr. Isaac Rabinowitz, director -of
the Hillel Foundation, will give a talk
on the "Jewish Way" at 11 a.m. today.
(Sunday) at the Foundation, during
the regular Sunday morning Reform
Services. hTis is the third in a series
of bi-weekly talks

By ELMAN SERVICE
Here is the second of two recently
published books about the Abraham
Lincoln Battalion. They deserve to
be mentioned together, for together
they can give one a remarkably clear
understanding of the whole series of
events, actions, and personalities
which went to make up one of the
most remarkable phenomena of mod-
ern times. Alvah Bessie (Men of
Battle) wrote a personal, introspec-
tive account of the last two battles in
which he and the other Americans
took part. It is a book detailing in
fine sensitive terms what one individ-
ual felt, saw, and thought during the
severe fighting which took place dur-
ing the twilight of the Spanish Re-
public. Edwin Rolfe has written a
different type of book-an exceed-
ingly well-documented, historical ac-
count of this unofficial A.E.F., be-
ginning in Dec. 26, 1936 when the
first group of young, Americans left
New York, and carrying us through
to the very end of their part in the
war. Personalities and places are
freely discussed; battles are described
in detail, so that, all in all, we have
a book which gives us the factual,
historical material which Bessie's
story necessarily lacked.
Edwin Rolfe was the obvious choice
to write such a book. He had been
editor of The Volunteer for Liberty,
the organ of International Brigades
in Spain. After the disastrous re-
treats of March, 1938, during the
darkest days of the Republic, Rolfe
gave up his job and joined the rem-
nants of the Abraham Lincoln Bat-
talion as a soldier. After serving in
the battalion for several of the most
frightful months the Americans ever
spent during their two years in Spain,
he became a correspondent for a New
York newspaper. Through these
varied tasks, he was able to combine
very different types of experience. As
a soldier Rolfe lived, fought, and suf-
fered with the rest of the boys he
was to write about: as a newspaper-
man and editor of The Volunteer for
Liberty he gained the perspective he
needed. Thus he was able to see and
understand the individual caught in
the welter of complexities of the war,
and at the same time gain an under-
standing of the things which were
happening on a very broad scale.
Factually, the book is absolutely
accurate. Rolfe does not suffer from
the "impartiality neurosis"-as Vin-
cent Sheean called it-which led so
many correspondents to falsify facts
in order to appear objective at
home. Edwin Rolfe cannot bring any
false "objectivity" into his treatment
of the material, for the question is
no more controversial to him than
to any of the men who went to Spain
to fight. There is truth and there
is falsity, and he brings us the care-
ful, studied truth about every phase
of the war he touches upon. It is
not a post-mortem book, full of dis-
tortion and unnecessary coloration,
but fresh and true, because for the
most part events are described while
they were in the process of occur-
ring.
From a literary standpoint, this
book can stand no improvement. Ed-
win Rolfe is one of America's most
promising young poets.

CHILDREN'S BOOK WEEK

SUGGESTIONS

I
I

The Treasure Hunter - Isabel Proudfit . .. Julian Messner
A Christmas Story - Pritchard.. . Dutton . .
The Dark Horse -Will James ... Scribner .... .... .
North to Nome - Louise Martin... Whitman...... ..
Alaskan Bear Adventures - Finton......:.......
Augustus and the River - LeGrand .. .. . . .. .
Mr. Scrunch - Helen Evers ... Rand McNally......

2.50
1.00
2.5 0
2.00
2.00
1.50
1.00

What About Willie - LeGrand . .. Garden City

. . . .50

I

Cinnamon Spice - Preston... . Grosset ........ .. ..
Squawky and Bawky - Lofting ... Scribner. ... ....

.50

1.50

Andi mty"rn~rtit ~s ;l ae- uth ., ""j etnfrrrr.JI

f

1111i

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