Page 6, 26th March 1971

26th March 1971
Page 6
Page 6, 26th March 1971 — The outer limits of incredulity

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The outer limits of incredulity


Not of This World by Peter Kolosimo, translated by A. D. Hills (Souvenir Press 35s.)

ONCE upon a time there used to be a column in a Sunday paper with the title: "Believe it or not." Week by week, readers were entertained by a rapid succession of curious and little-known facts. The present book, which is of the same character, shows that the scope of such a venture is now much enlarged.

A chapter, written with tongue in cheek, on flying saucers is only the beginning. Under-water objects have been cropping up all over in the past few years, and there arc strange sculptures from anywhere between Japan and Peru which show men dressed in space-suits, or so one may think with a little goodwill. The plates provided enable the reader to judge for himself. Atlantis, Thule, the Flying Dutchman, the Giants' Causeway—all these are treated at breakneck speed, without a pause for reflection.

If the author had paused to estimate the value of his authorities, he might have found some surprises; to discuss Atlantis with the help of Serge Hutin is not really helpful when that author's previous works deal with Jacob Boehme, the Rosicrucians, alchemy and Robert Fludd. One can accept that Roger Peyrefitte knows of "the exact spot in Strasbourg Cathedral where you only had to put your finger to make the whole edifice crash," but why has no one ever tried the expirement7 Again, an American called

Mitchell Hedges is cited for the opinion that the stone of the Giza pyramid came from South America, and one is surprised to find that the only Mitchell Hedges known to the British Museum catalogue is the author of a work entitled "Battles with giant fish." Howard Lovecraft, the American father of science-fiction, is used to give plausiblity to some of the tales (Spacemen in the Antarctic), and this will only strain the credulity of the reader. It is a pity the translator kept Italian names such as Tito Livio and [sic] Guiaeppe Flavio.

La Vie en Rose by Gerard Werson (Chatto & Windus 35s.) A stylish first hovel about an adventurous fop in the hardworking modem world. More than a few touches of Wilde and Beerbohm.

The Aga Khans by Willi Frischauer (Bodley Head 42s.)

The author of the notable boot( about Onassis shouldihe well qualified to tackle this "success story" with a difference, though certain inaccuracies, e.g., over the correct ownership of the famous Eyrefield stud farm on the Curragh, make one uneasy.

But read as "romantic nonfiction" it is splendid stuff, and combines the glamour of the jet age with the mystery of the ancient orient, tracing, as it does, a remarkable history from the Prophet of Islam himself to the present Prince Aga Khan.

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