Star of Saran. By Georges Bernanos. (John Lane, 8s. 6d.).
The Bright Pavilions. By Hugh Walpole.
(Macmillan, 10s. (rd..
The Dark Rose. By Kenneth Thomas (Peter Davies, 8s. 64.).
The Earthly Paradise. By C. S. Forester. (Michael Joseph, 8s.).
Reviewed by FRANCIS BURDETT.
GEORGES BERNANOS, author of
The Diary of a Country Priest,
first made his name with Star of Satan. It is a violent, obscure book.
Less solid, less finished, less sure than The Diary. Its virtue lies in its intensity. It strives to give a picture of sin, sin as it is understood by the
Christian, and the demands made upon sanctity by its ravages and its malignity.
Mouchette, the daughter of a successful provincial brewer, is vicious, material-minded, petty and lecherous. After seduction she murders the man and falls, almost insensibly and her crime undetected, into profounder depths of vice and despair. This first section of the hook ends with a powerful scene with another !over. the base Dr. Gallen, the local deputy. In desperation she confesses to him her crime and is denied for his own reasons, credence and compassion.
Fr. Donissan, curate to the Dean of Campagne, was by origin a clumsy and uncouth peasant and remains such as a priest. He offends many but has a deep piety and profound humility. The Dean a cultured and brilliant man, conies, almost in spite of himself, to love and revere him. He checks excesses and lessens the anguish in the poor priest's heart by pointing out to him that,
in evident fact, God was calling him to exceptional heights of sanctity. hr. Doniasan's temptation was ever to despair; his hatred of sin and Satan, his own clumsy failings and obstinacy. seemed to obscure his vision of the love of God an41 the joy springing from that love. Even when he became " The Saint of Lumbres " that, as it were, one-sided combat with Satan. that overstretching of his own will, that almost deliberate rejection of any comfort or alleviation in his combat with evil, was his weak spot and almost his undoing.
It is an exaggerated and, as I think, at times a false picture of a priest, but 'for all the exaggeration, all the obscurity, a powerful one.
Some of the best pages are towards the end of the hook when Monsieur SaintMartin, often thought to recall Anatole France, makes a pilgrimage of curiosity to Lumbres. We see him sterilised by vice, gifted, withered. corrupted, false. confronted by the Saint. upright yet dead, in his confessional, This book would seem to he an attempt to shatter sophistries and force beliefs in the action and ubiquity of the father of lies.
SIR Hugh Walpole in The Bright Pavilions gives his readers further knowledge of the Herries family, in Elizabethan times. Mainly it is the story of two brothers: Nicholas the giant and Robin his younger brother. Nicholas is of the earth earthy,but well-intentioned if superficial and devoted to the more dreamy and poetical Robin. There are many adventures, some exciting scenes and pages are devoted to the last weeks in the life of Mary Queen of Scots, at Fothcringhay. As Sir Hugh writes well the historical parts arc pleasant to read but constantly spoilt by the imaginary characters and events introduced. Blessed Edmund Campion, for example, is shown as history proves him to have been, but the imaginary Jesuit introduced is a figment from the mind of a contemporary sceptic.
Sir Hugh delights in references to lechery and lust ; he sits on moral fences and makes his witch a very paragon of virtue burnt by decent English folk in an orgy of excusable.
if execrable, cruelty. It is an attitude of mind that has brought not a little disaster into the world.
THE Dark Rose is a full-blooded story of an American murderess whose beauty was perpetuated in her daughter. Passionate scenes are crudely described or insinuated and there is much about the reaction of a (typical, isn't it?) American reporter. -:aseinated by the mother, he comes to love the daughter and the mother's handy revolver sends him the way of a previous lover.
More likely, one hopes, to be read in America than here.
IN The Earthly Paradise Don Narciso Rich, a lawyer, accompanies Christopher Columbus on his third voyage to the Indies. He is represented as an intelligent man in an age of benighted superstition and ignorance. There is an occasional sparkle on sonic of the pages, but modern 'ignorance is much in evidence.