THE BEST SUBSTITUTE FOR WIT
FURTHER PARADOXES, by Henri De Lubac, S.J. (Longmans, Green, London; The Newman Press, U.S.A. 15s.).
A GUIDE TO THE CITY OF GOD, by Marthinus Versfeld (Sheed & Ward, 10s. 6d.).
A POPULAR HISTORY OF THE JESUITS, by Denis Meadows, (Macmillan, New York, 24s. 6d.).
THE REMARK of G.K.C.that, if brevity is not the soul of wit, at least it is the best substitute for it-springs to mind in view of the immense outpouring of books from the press; which compels me to adopt the substitute and severely ration any latent wit, by bunching together the above-named books, all worthy of further comment.
Fr. De Lubec (the distinguished Jesuit who is a Professor of the History of Religions at Lyon, but who has past associations with England at Canturbury and Hastings) in this series of pensees covers a wide field in a myriad glances, at once acute. humorous and thought-provoking; though many readers (I'm afraid) would prefer Chesterton's "Paradoxes of Mr. Pound."
Whether one fully appreciates, or agrees with, some of the items., one may reflect on the fact that they have the Imprimatur. For a book of 128 pages (even a translation-apparently admirably done by Ernest Beaumont) the price will tend to repel.
THERE have been many excellent A books about that extraordinary and intensely human character St. Augustine, the tremendous fourthcentury Doctor of the Church, convert from Manicheisin. Bishop of Hippo, whose writings form a library in themselves (most of them being referred to by St. Thomas Aquinas) notably the books by Fr. M. C. D'Arcy, S.J., and others ("A Monument to St Augustine," MO) and F. J. Sheed (translation of • the "Confessions," 1943).
The present hook is a specialist's masterly account (not a translation) of the work which took St. Augustine 15 years to write; the age-long classic in which "a whole
i philosophy of history s created outs of the earthquake crash of the Roman Empire. •
Mr. Versfield gives a I2-page general survey followed by a summary of the last 12 books of the total 22; an appendix to the analysis of Book XIX (this deals with Plato; St. Augustine, it will be recalled, was a neo-Platonist and his philosophy held sway until St. Thomas replaced it with that of Plato's greatest pupil, Aristotle); an appendix on the Christology and ecclesiology of the "City of God," and a useful general index. The moderate price will he a pleasant surprise.
ACYNICAL wag might re-name Mr. Meadows' book "A Popular History of the Unpopular Jesuits"-and, as in many a smart crack, would be at least half wrong. For, however unpopular the great Order has been in certain worldly quarters, it is to judge by vocations themost popular of all the male Religious Orders. (No Order seems to rival in numbers the 45,000 Sisters of Charity).
This "outline of four centuries of Jesuit history" (by one who was for 10 years a 'Jesuit, but who left in good standing and became a
British Army Officer, a schoolmaster and a journalist) traces the Order from its birth (in that little company of seven at Montmartre, Paris, in 1534, under the guiding influence of Ignatius-only one of them, Pater Favre, being then a priest); through its dramatic developments in teaching, preaching. writing, and missions at home and in the foreign mission fields; its temporary suppression through political antipathy, its restoration and still greater development; with finally an outlook for the future.
A very helpful appendix gives a guide to further study in the form of a select bibliography, and a good general index is added. Though high priced, this reliable and very readable book will repay its purchase in knowledge and the intrinsic interest of an heroic story.