Page 3, 16th November 1951

16th November 1951
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Page 3, 16th November 1951 — Two m.en look behind the Curtainl
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Organisations: Cornell University
Locations: Montreal, Moscow, Canterbury

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Two m.en look behind the Curtainl

THERE was a certain inevitability about the Chinese Communist Revolution. The corruption of Government and its officials, the decadence of the ruling class, the pressure of the peasantry demanding and needing sweeping reforms, the impecunious intelligentsia-all guaranteed the Communists a follov, mg and a

In so far as John Bided gets across this idea in his Red China in Perspective (Wingate, I2s. 6d.), he is doing a useful job. if only because the Chinese experience may lead others to learn very necessary lessons.

But his apparent ignorance of Communist aims.

theories. tactics, and long-term intentions, teed him to false and dangerous conclusions when he leaves the causes to dcuss current policies and likely developments.

Perhaps ps il is because he is so anxious to dissociate, himself from America's current unbalanced anti-Communism that he appears at times to be doing the Communists' job for them.

This same lack of a background of knowledge of Marxist theory and practice is revealed in the very readable Peking Diary, by Derek Bodde (Jonathon Cape, 16s.). It also possibly explains why he, too, holds the view that it is Western policy which has driven the Chinese Communists into the arms of Moscow, whereas in fact, there has from the start been a total identity of philosophy, aims and outlook.

Written in diary form, Peking Diary, which covers the period August 1948 to October 1949, is full of illuminating human incidents which add up to the pattern of those decisive days.

Particularly interesting to those who, though home based. are anxious to combat Asiaian Communism, is his statement that " the most vociferous supporters of the new order are the intellectuals, especially the students. . . . The intellectuals, long ignored by the Kuomintang, are now made to feel that their specialised skills are needed."

Those frustrated overseas students in our British cities can appear to be of so little consequence today. But what of tomorrow?

• *

THE author of Repair the Ruins,

H. Blamires, has turned his wise and penetrating mind to the problem of English in Education (Geoffrey Bles, 10s. 6d.).

Repairs the Ruins was a courageous and forthright attack on the materialist assumptions which underlie and vitiate so much of the work in so-called Christian education, and still more of that for which we are wholly indebted to State-governed institutions.

He wrote-and how deftly: "The pagan thought seeps down from master to pupil, through writer to reader, and often finds at the popular level no adequate challenge."

The first three chapters of this new book are concerned with the methods at present in use to make a child a "fluent reader who likes books and a fluent penman who enjoys writing,and among the most important things he does in this connection is to attack vigorously the want of integration in the teaching of English, and shows up the absurdity of teaching of the ' parts Of speech," " figures of speech," simple. the compound sentence and then the paragraph as if the method of teaching were susceptible of the logical analysis and progress which the science of language and writing more naturally and appropriately uses.

The last three chapters. however, constitute the substantial contribution to educational theory.

In them the author makes good the case for a linguistic discipline in education-the kind of job formerly so adequately performed by the study of the classical languages.

He goes on from there to argue for the English language as the instrument for this discipline and and rightly to distinguish this function of the teaching of English from the teaching and learning of appreciation of literature, about wffich he has many illuminating and stimulating things to say.

THE St. Lawrence. by Henry Heston (Hodge, Ws. 6d.) is a detailed account, historical and topographical-and packed with human interest-of the great international highway which forms the boundary between the U.S.A. and Canada.

Dealing mainly with the FrenchCatholic region of the St. Lawrence, Mr. Reston writes quietly and graphically of Canadians, including the Indian tribes, their homes. trades, religion. politics and folklore. The thousand Islands to Montreal to Quebec to the sea is vividly described -a countryside incomplete without rocker and candlelighted window and towns that are French, Canadian, and English all in one.

There is a thrilling account of Wolfe and Quebec-and interesting is the author's visit to the pilgrimage of the Virgin of Bersimis where High Mass was served by little blackheaded Indian boys in red cassocks and white cottas.

FAR from quiet and peaceful is

the strong dialect-spun narrative Suwannee River, by Cecile Hulse Matschat (Hodge, 15s.). The horror and terror infested swamps of Okenfenokee in Georgia-the Indiannamed " Land of Trembling Earth " -is the source of the coloured folk's river.

This is the swamp where in 1912 Dr. Funk, of Cornell University, is said to have found a group of people speaking Chaucerian English. And investigations have proved that the swamp folk use many words found in The Canterbury 1 ales and in Shakespeare.

Such a conglomeration of wild beasts, tropical birds snakes and reptiles are seldom met etch its one book, and the Plant Vs'omen, as the authoress is dubbed, gathers from the Snake Woman of the region an extraordinary collection of remedies, potions and superstitions.

IN Starlet and Sunrise by Nicholas

• Sandys (Sheed and Ward, 10s. 6d.) a tinker's daughter, developing into a film star, is another of the Little Flower's conversions, Marjorie Chatham, at that psychological moment of her life when "in spite of pink silk sheets and black satin pillowcases there was something gave me the hump," was asked to play St. Therese of Lisieux in a film of the Saint's life, and the honesty that had remained untarnished throughout the moral tarnish of her career, told her that she was not fit. Then St. Therese took her in hand and the rest was almost automatic. This is a readable little story, but the charm of the early chapters when Marjorie lives with her parents in a caravan in the New Forest, and the punch of the later ones, sinks at the finish into a morass of sentimentality. A pity, because more strongly written the book might have made a wide appeal.




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