14 HERE factual reports make little impression, a story often penetrates. Nationalist Spain has inspired two novels lately which may do as much to fire imaginations and create rightmindedness as any propaganda bureau.
This week The Golden Spaniard, the work of the well-known English novelist, Dennis Wheatley, is reviewed by Michael de la Bedoyere. Subsequently, Francis Burdett will review M. Lucien Maulvauet's French novel (now translated into English by John Colville) called Spanish Recruit. (The Spanish soldier below is reproduced from the wrapper of Maulvauet's book and is from a drawing by C. S. de Tejada).
Facts Fad But Fiction Convinces
The Propaganda Department Can't Beat It
The Golden Spaniard. By Dennis Wheatley. (Hutchinson, 8s. 6d.) Reviewed by MICHAEL DE LA BEDOYERE
HE publishers inform the readers of Dennis Wheatley that only in the very remotest parts of the globe are savage tribes unable to obtain his adventure books in their own language and that meanwhile the rest of the world is assiduously reading him throughout the twenty-four hours. 1 never expected to be impressed by this kind of blurb nor have 1 previously attached much significance to such. But I am now mightily consoled to think that a very large number of persons indeed are likely, sooner or later, to read this racy
yarn about the Spanish war. Some of them who refuse to believe or even listen to historians and publicists may learn a good deal of the truth from an unpretentious novel. I imagine that The Golden Spaniard will do more than all the Nationalist books and propaganda to convey to the people who ought to know the true nature of what has been happening in Spain. The religious issue, of course, is not emphasised—and allusions to it are often superficial—but the incidental description of how the war began and of the kind of people on either side make an excellent preparation for further enlightenment.
I may be exaggerating the possible effects of this novel, but I doubt it. Wheatley has many of the qualities of Dumas, the power of telling a story of action and colour against a background so cleverly sketched in that it fills, as it were, the nooks and crannies of the sub-conscious. A reader may doubt or dismiss it as merely a light novel, or call the writer biassed : he will not be able to stop reading, and the 450 pages will have done their work of providing a living picture from which he will not be able wholly to escape.
I cannot doubt that the author's sympathies arc largely with the Nationalists but only, I imagine, because he happens to have taken the trouble to find out the truth. At the same time the exigencies of his plots make him say all the good possible of the Reds.
His four musketeers, the Duke of Richleau, Simon Aron, Richard Eaton and Rex van Ryn, find themselves on opposite sides undertaking secret work for the respective governments. The story centres round a beautiful woman, The Golden Spaniard," high up in the Anarchist ranks and a legendary figure among the-Reds. but none the less a secret Royalist agent whose chief concern is to transfer the ten tons of gold deposited in the Madrid vaults of her family bank to the Nationalists.
The four musketeers manage to keep their friendship for and chivalry towards one another in the midst of the war of
• hating factions, and ultimately the gold, is safely carried out of Spain. Though Simon and Rex remain loyal to the Republicans they are not too sorry at the failure of their efforts, and glad enough to he out of the dangerous and horrid business.
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Catholics who have despaired of enlightening their acquaintances might try recommending this book. It may not do the trick, but it will make a difference— and the victim, at worst, will have the pleasure of reading a first-rate adventure story.