Page 5, 20th April 1935

20th April 1935
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Page 5, 20th April 1935 — BOOKS OF THE WEEK
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BOOKS OF THE WEEK

Eight Novels

Cal .4eross The Hy 'loth Feiner.

ullattrips, •.-. 6(1.)

Drird Ily Coven Cann'.

ICI1IgliiLiln., :'

141,,

in-rim-lent livprionor-o. Ity leatherette

Wright, [Iluielliesen, ate ;shawl! the II\ P.

Nloria■ , 7s.El It ill Fatif. lis fehelia lit',.,ahahinson, a. ed., !trimly pa Youth. Ilv wHitaci.ii

.11 a rd I le

I .srai eh of Yesterday. It enreth ward; Lacrimal; jelaelee a.; eea The Door opens, 13:t luuricl Hino. (The Bodley Head, Is, 6d.) Reviewed by el Vita:IRE:1' MAcKENele, datAT Across Hie Patli. is a tranelation from the Germait of Ruth Feiner by Nerman Alexander. which is cry well dime and reads like an original. The story itself Is competently told but the point of the titleie far le soils. It was surely not necessary I p \al it a novel and leave it tranelated so as to inform us that sonte people get a harder deal from lire than Miters and that, in one case at least, ill-luck dogged a man because ii, Neck cat crossed his path just after his birth." Doubtless the. black eat is a symbol or an ornament, but even as a symbol

I deplore him. I like When I read a hook to be allowed some epecalation as to the ultimate fate of its hero. a is merely depreseing to watch the wriggles of a poor wreteh doomed te

failure from his birth. Fate, insaunient of the anger oi the god-, was a thrilling if Invincible fighter; luck symbolized by a black eat, is as uninspiring Lit,.tltT mitomatee. machine.

Here, however, he nu y haVe been us,cid :simply le give a trine! or the fantastic to a neetly contrived tragedy. I say 'contrived" designedly. for an seats of thc . detail and realism surrounding them, Alexander lie failure, "Johnny iarove" the stacess, Sala the girl they both love, never live thaitah they respond nimbly enough In the strings in their manipulator's hands.

i'elner's ideal is success, although she has a eertaip con

temptuous pity for failure. Indeed, the falseness of her whole stale of values lends the hook a gravity that it would lack without 11.

Two First Attempts Dead. 'Yesterday, 1-r■ Gwen Grant, is One of those buoks that bring home the traged■iii Iletion-writing to,day. The levet of mallet technique is en high, The creative impuieesi low: Gwen Grant is one of a hundrat equally gifted eoinpetetors. Whore elle fails, in oatmeal with eo manY of them, is in having anything vital to tell us, anything in wheal we can take awn; than a FisL-ing interest.

The -light eiory 1s quiae well dour, but there ie nut enough ineviallnina in malt a fancy it ie little' more) for a Y011 ui ver feel fOr a moment this is a story sithich had to he Li Id. To say this a it judge Dead Yesterday by a higher standard than ite enturenent aehievement, Iiiir not I believe its pronliee, wat•ra ruts. Garnixitt of Itcpenlatice is ara•-■11101

first. hid id different hind frent

a Grata expert

le 101 ,, le 101 ,,

mented, Catherine Wright La content Ti follow the tra( k heatea by other feet, but el le_ does so with ao assured tread. This i:,a sincere. it not partirularly distinctive pieta, Cl work, which shows n mat Ire (-imparters o signs or imurity.

am in the main credible, it fer from perfect, human beings. and we can bring ourselves to believe in the pielure iil flhorliksia. because Gatheritie Waighl paI ina in deer colours mei does not lorlare it 01.11. Of all semblance of reality by " local" onee laAtt Mt with a trowel. Ntore ambitious books than here lave failed bere Nvhere she hat" sty, aelial Chelsea to Mecca p. c. Wren deSerli its popularity;

he works for it. To satisfy the taste

of his fetidly he muse I j, Rue, provide. certain toga:dale, in hie mice but he is nut eunteut tu era's e up, time and

:teeth, the seine disguieed by slightly differeta flavours, celled by different manta.

lit Sielati/ eofdrer Sincluir Dysart, Int: hero or le /jou and Passion, 1:011liill/eS Illsstl'ar-wi• aireer. Tu depict lire as e private Fir iitimirde and in ilia

deeeri 1..1 a :,hcits, ti sny nothing or ileaerihinglii pilgrimage te nate

colour: much experience Neil codorance must be the of a book steel as thisone, wI ii Ii is able to forgo. must satisfactorily, ally l•wo interes1 and in rely ntirely on well documented adventure for its appeal.

Wanted—a Herod

hi lVdct Fruit Sheila Fitzgerald is to be congratulated I j F that is the word) on having produced the most tavolting rhildree in literature. The drawbeek her aellievainent. is thai they ant as odimie to meet in a book as they Avenel I e to meet in reality \aeon I say Ilia the father and mother of Mese monsters are very nearly, in their different ways, as unpleasing as their offspring, little remains to he said except that this old. and aristocratic family" lived in a medieval talene or great antiquity and twenty on a bank of the Elbe, where 1, for one, am content to leave them.

Some Others

Deputy for Youth. is " a story based oil an episode in the life of Chaucer,

ombered 'Willi all early lidVeratlrel Cf l'alShlf:' I cannot think that Wallace 13. Nailer, hes been happily inspired in thus bringing together the real and the imaginary. We .niay well ask his motive : for Falstaff plays hut little part in the story which, in any case, was not likely to add to our knowledge of It im.

So irar U.S I arn competent to judge a historical novel this one is good of its kind, and will ideates: those svho nee m bring their poets dowit from the heights into the prose of every day. Personally, I feel that history alone flee that pris area and that imagination

shined inorm' Mamba-.

In scarf l'e.sterday belongs to the class id reading usually labelled "lathe" It is about, a man svim 10Se'S memory, ii rid .kireth Ward, its atelier. sees to it that, although complication:, enema the reader is never

left Is ale•iir the hope, tatimateie realized. of it suitably happy ending.

The Door Opens, by Muriel Hine, is already in its seeend edition, there ie no need te do more than 10 register the fact el' its popularity. It is a story %Nhich will please her ndmirere.

The Church in Wal'es

The Catholic Clinrelt in aindern Wale.

[Burns Oates ate] Wee-leatairrie, es. ad. net.)

Reviewed ley 1e1VID e1.1THEete el.A., lair Ii M".lated on it eletitseighted and \TI-\\'.\-1"" is I"' '.1.111graiii' entirely candid ace-owe of ine state of the Catholic Church itt moiler, \Vales. The whole of hie ehert volume is marked by a entreaty or :4d-tile/I-lout and ii carefill alit4Clite of exaggeration. \luny feet. 'ally accessible in periode era IileualTuu,ire here gathered together fer thehut thee end the aecount of the development et the missions in rural Waies is full id interest. The short description ot Ifitittry Hughes's work it, Lleyn is particularly attractive.

The whole book is marked by a sympathy for Wales and for things Welsh, and a deer understanding of the necessity tor an approar.h. through tho Welsh language and the national culture. In fact. the ate-mint of Catholi cism ill NOTIll Walesiii I8511 could hardly have been improved epon. This is the more es ident betiettee the intrnduction t.o NN'eleli religious hietury, with which the volume opens. Is necessarily superficial. In this seetion the strength of Welsh Catholicism in the seventeenth c.entury seems insufficiently stressed; but the absence of any serous work de.aling With Catholicism in Wales

between 1600 and 1a00 makes this almost inevitable.

By contrast the interesting detail of the missionary work la the first half of the nineteenth century succeeds in conveying a balanced picture. It is here, however, that a real weakness in the hook becomes apperent. The author shows little understanding of industrial development, anti the really interesting detail Of the waves of inueigration front Ireland and the effect of the eronomie eonditinne upon ihe distribution of

crate-thee a re left midis:cussed. On p. el the eiiihora attitude to this question is defined. "The Welsh of the towns," he writes, "herdly removed by a generation from the hospitable and kindly folk of the mountain farms and valley villages. were already denatured and (1€ moralized by machine-age industry, by life in the slum, the factory and the mine."

Without reference to conditions in industry the work of building up the churn and school organization in the

arehdiocese of Cardiff cart only he indleated in a, general resblon. As a small point, it is doubtful if Mr. Attwater's statement that St. David's cathedral. Cardiff, is not a "convenient building, least of all for pontifical functions,' would lind acceptance.

There is a tendency in different parts of the hook hi take a conservative view of the numbers of the admittedly small element of Catholics of Welsh descent. Time comments on the Nonconformist chapels appear just, and there is an

appreciation of the significance or the smell-farming element throughout the

errantry districts. Mr. Attwater mallet; persuasively on the conversion of Wales. It is lo be hoped that his refreshing book will have the aide circulation ehich it deserves.

Pioneer Work on Hopkins

The Mind and Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, By Bernard Kelly. (Pettier and Sewell, es.) Reviewed by OSBERT BURDF,TT

THIS little book is the first study of -athe ricietry of Hopkins to approach the " moral character " that may be said to saturate its strange technique. Mr. Kelle. finds the integrity hf the priestly eharacter in it. The kind of points with which Mr. Kelly deals, for instance, is the " reasonableness" of the dedication to our Lord of the poem on the. flight of the Windhover. The main part of the essay is a discussion of The Wreck of the Deut-schland, that difteralt poem, the longest, which has been said to stand like a dragon in the reader's path. Mr. Kelly finds its meaning to be "Christianity splendid and entire in its accepted sacrifice."

Thie is not everybody's 4-atheism, hut it is welcome for two reasons. First, there is no doubt that the form of Hopliins's verse did undoubtedly express his intense thought as well as his intense feeling, and that this thought was obvioliely influenced by his fortiso-olliirkicle reading in Duns Scotus and

Secondly, a new and difficult writer of fine quo lily COMPS VSP be known hotter by discussion front many angles than Dam any single sturdy, however good. There is ho cure for novelty but F epetition,. and until the unfamiliar has hecome familiar our attention is not free to probe its reserves of

Inealrn. lum g.

Mr. Kelly is a pioneer in a path sure

te be followed, for the oddity and eriainality of Hopkins's technique undouleedly sprang from an intelligence as original, and concerned, too, lvith the theology alien to Bridges but as important as Mr. Kelly sees it to be. Mr, Kelly opens a new phase in our understanding.

Mr. Robert Speaight's novel The ens/ Hero is being trimelated into Frenell and will shortly be pabliehiel by Hen, of Paris. These piellishers wellknown in England fel altar Boseari d'Or library, a series in seme respects 1,1)C Essays in Order of Meieere. Sheed and Ward. WHEN this series is complete it will provide Catholics, indeed all students not committed to anti-religious prejudices, with a miniature library of Comparative Religion packed with information and the work of most competent authorities—assuming, of course, as we have every reason to assume, that the present standard is maintained to the end. Apart from Islam and the non-Catholic Christian bodies reserved to the final volumes all the important religions of mankind are reviewed in these volumes.

The list of contributors is a sufficient guarantee of the high Quality of these essays. Father Schmidt writes on primitive religions, Father Johanns on Hinduism, Professor Vallee Poussin on Buddhism, Professor MacNeill on Celtic Religion,

and Professor Carnoy on Teutonic Persecution. Father Condamin writes on the religion of Babylonia and Assyria, Dr Barton on Semitic Religions, also three essays on the Religion of the Old Testament. The religions of Greece and Rome fall to Father Martindale who also writes on the teaching of Jesus and the Apostolic Church. And two essays on the Church in the Roman empire are the work of Father Philip Hughes.

_ One Unsympathetic Note 11 I pass over any names it is not in disparagement of their contributions but not to profess knowledge of writers whom clearly I ought to have known, but did not know. I must indeed make certain reservations about the Rev. J. H. Martin's account of Japanese religion. But even here it is not as to the writer's competence. He adopts an unusually unsympathetic tone to Japanese religion in strange contrast to the delicate sympathy displayed by Claudel in his account of it. And a most offensively slighting reference to the Protestant missions in Japan was quite unnecessary and strikes

an incongruous note. If Father Martin could say nothing good about them he need not have dragged them in.

The Religion of the Earliest Men In one respect, Father Schmidt's excellent essay on the religion of earliest man seems to me seriously misleading. It tells us about the religion of the earliest men about whose religion we have any evidence. It tells us and can tell us nothing about the religion of the earlieeit

men For science knows nothing about it. And hundreds of millenia divide the earliest Pliocene "men" whose bones or tools have been discovered from those later Palaeolithic cultures whose religious beliefs can at least be plausibly con jectured. If it be replied that we know the religion of the first men by revelation. that knowledge lies • outside the domain of the anthropologist and should be sharply distinguished from it.

Main Types of Primitive Religion In his second essay where the evidence is more abundant and the reconstrurtion correspondingly no fuller and more certain, Father Schmidt outlines three main types of primitive religion, each attached to a particular type of culture.

1. The religion of the matriarchalagrarian culture. 2. The religion of the patrilineartotemistic culture.

3. The religion of the large-family cattle-raising culture.

The Economic Factor

The third is the noblest and purest and the background on which Jewish monotheism arose. It is certainly piquant, perhaps somewhat disconcerting, to find that in the last resort for Schmidt the types of primitive religion are determined in true Marxian orthodoxy by an economic factor, the method of pro duction. But it determines only the objects of religious worship not the religious apprehension of Deity

as such. Nor, of course, would Father Schmidt explain the origins if the higher religions in this way.

Based on India

I would invite special attention to Father Johann's appreciation of the truth attained by the great Vedantist philosophers of India. "If," he concludes, "we introduce the right conception of creation and recast their more rational dogmas according to the requirements of this broader synthesis, they assume a consistency and a harmony which make us almost wish that our Theology and Philosophy were built on Indian rather than on Greek soil." Why not upon both?

The Irish Gods It was interesting to learn from Professor MacNeill that the Irish gods have not wholly perished but survive as fairies. It is a charming and harmless way of perpetuating the ancient mythology without detriment to the higher truth.

Mexico of Old Father Hoeltker in his excellent account of Mexican religion is inclined to overpraise its ethical aspect by applying a false comparative standard of values. The Aztecs, he tells us, "attained a remarkably high moral level" because polygamy was rare and a strict code of sexual conduct and modest dressing were traposed when the practice. of human sacrifice cost, as he informs us, on the most moderate estimate, many hundred lives each year in the city of Mexico alone and wars were regularly waged to obtain victims. I am unpleasantly reminded of those who palliate the tyranny and militarism of the Fascists and Nazis on the plea that they have repressed pornography.

Father Martindale In his account of Roman religion I must question Father Martindale's derivation of the Flamens from the men of the household blowing the embers of the hearth into flame each morning. It seems hardly likely. I prefer as a hypothesis—we can have no certainty—the view which would connect the word with the Sanskrit Brahman, the man who knows the Sacred formula. And though Pope Gelasius certainly did not invent the Feast of the Purification to oust the Lupercalia, Father Thurston's argument that he imported it for that purpose from Jerusalem is very strong.

Detail and Erudition

Yet I hardly know why I refer to these trifles except to show that I have looked at the book I profess to review! It is, in fact. astonishing how much detailed erudition has been packed into these essays. To review them adequately each would require an expert in its particular province. The accounts of the Gnostic systems of Basilides and Valentines are perhaps too summary and too categorical. But the fuller accounts are so complicated and uncertain that this is no great matter. The notion of the systems given is sufficient for a necessarily short and popular work.

The Bible and Early Church

The third volume, as we have seen, Is devoted to the religion of the Bible and the early Church. And with one exception it is the work of three writers, Dr Barton, Father Martindale and Father Hughes. And the exception. the essay on ante-Nicene Christianity by Dom Christopher Butler, is also excellent. The volume is a compendium of Jewish-Christian religion from the patriarchs to 700 A.D. which could hardly be bettered.

Is there. however, any reason to suppose that Abraham's "belief in God and the worship of God rest upon an immediate revelation made by God to him"? Surely the Biblical narrative implies that these truths were already known when he received from God not a revelation of his existence but a command and a promise.

When Father Martindale rightly calls our attention to the idolatrous cult of Lenin and Stalin it would have been only fair to add the cults

of Mussolini and Hitler. Fascist totalitarianism is as much a form of Caesar worship as the Communist variety.




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