Page 8, 10th December 1937

10th December 1937
Page 8
Page 8, 10th December 1937 — Mr. Su olk's Drawings

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Sea.—While I still question my having in any sense "chosen" Mr. Suffolk to " illustrate " my articles, I must repeat that I do not understand his method, but have not the arrogance to condemn it. Like Mr. Anson—whose technique is so " representative " yet so definitely eliminative and provides drawings of places, and does not aim at an illusion that you are in the place itself—I want to learn. I remember disliking Wagner, and even writing in the diary that 1 then kept (thank God, it is destroyed . . .): " I shall never like Tristan: I am not a yearning' sort of man : still less, The Ring—it is all scraps." Yet 1 came to see the amazing intellectual unity of The Ring and could not now un-see it. Had I time to struggle with post-Wagnerian music, certainly I would grow up into understanding, and maybe liking, much that now I don't. Long ago, Wagner was howled down: now, throngs go delirious over the Queen's Hall Monday Promenades; others think him hopelessly old-fashioned and a wallower in emotion.

Once, the ordinary " third" in music seemed a horrible innovation : the day before yesterday, Debussy's music, based (I believe) on a theory of over-tones, was thought ugly and modernist. When Chnabue painted his Madonna— still very iconic, though with some perspective about her—the Florentine populace went mad with joy, so " realist was she to them. Well, she was the ancestress of the fleshy Magdalens and St. Sebastians of the Renaissance, at which we ought to be worse shocked than at the angular " indecencies " in wood or stone or (as you say) in glass, proper to the Ages of Faith!

The Man With The Union Jack

Let us then be fair all round. You, Sir, were " a little overcome " by Mr. Suffolk's first picture: yet you saw more in it than I did : 1 had no notion what the gentleman with the Union Jack might portend : you saw what was " alluded to." So did others. They were sharper-wined than an elderly man like me. Mr. Suffolk too must be fair to me. He must not mind my saying that it is selfish to say (in line) only what he likes, giving no thought to what other people, priebably, will like. That 'would be as though I were to write only what seethed to me significant, leaving out the rest. That would save a lot of time; but who else would understand my skeleton-outlines? Filleted soles are all right: but no one would care much for being offered just the bones. Upshot-1 write what 1 can about the Saints : Mr. Suffolk draws what he prefers about them; he may not like what I write, nor always 1 what he draws.

I Am Just I

One of my dearest and 'most maddening friends was Henry (son of Augustus) John. Had he asked me : " Do my drawings please you?", I should have said : " No. Nor will they, nor ought they, to please anyone." But, save for the first word, that answer would doubly have overshot what was just. Had Mr. Suffolk asked me: " Will my drawings suit the Catholic Herald?-', I might have answered: "They will not suit most of its readers. They may suit some, and they have—nuns included. (One correspondent, indeed, finds that St. Ambrose is ' a dear!' That might have startled him.) So let the Editor give you a run for your money—or should I say: Give him a run—not too fast nor too far—for his money . . . "

The Dove And The Ray

"But I like the Dove descending on him —on him, who might have been such a vulture! 1 like the heavenly ray flooding him who (like our politicians) would normally have been groping in fogs. I like the straight eyebrows and straight mouth. I like the ghostly St. Augustine in the background—though who, my dear Philip, will realise it is St. Augustine? or isn't it? 1 don't like the Snake, because St. Ambrose wasn't up against secret and slippery things, but brutally overt and crude things. 1 just disregard the little girl who in no way corresponds ' to his hymns. The arrangement of the Pallium is perfect. I would like, but in no way expect, adverse critics to have attended to these and other details."

1 don't know if Mr. Suffolk is to carry on with his drawings, or I with my articles. If most of his readers dislike either or both, you, my dear Sir, would be foolish to toler ate him, me, or us. But while all Christians are " one thing " in Christ, let not my literary notions be supposed to be, necessarily, his; nor his artistic ones, mine. The ultimate judgment is with God : the proximate one, with you!


[We have asked Mr. Suffolk to explain to our readers what exactly he is attempting, and

why. He has promised to do so. Correspondence received this week shows a general • desire for more light on the drawings, not any disgust. One priest-reader very frankly says: " Forgive us. therefore, be patient with


us. if we can only see in such productions the spirit of anti-Christ deceiving, if it were possible, even the elect." The combination of this brnial. but sincere. criticism with the humble request for patience is, we believe, new We are hold enough to think that this week's drawing of St. Thomas—a study of utter depression at the thought of failure, contrasted with the triumphant martyr's palm after Our Lord had given strength—will go a long way to convince our readers that there is no anti-Christ here. but the spirit of Christianity expressed through a severe objective form in which all subjectivities of feeling are eliminated.—Enrroa.]

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