THE SUPERNATURAL READER, edited by Groff & Lucy Conklin, (Cassell, 166.).
THOSE with an insatiate appetite
for spooks-and many "ghostreaders" are terrible gluttons will find a sure return in "'the Supernatural Reader " (twentyseven stories and near four hundred pages).
But there arc others who prefer the creepy tale, like the vintage automobile, pre-1914. For such, this collection is perhaps too scientific. has advanced too far into sodium lighting from the gaslamps and mists of an Edwardian world.
Trans-Atlantic haunters are well represented here (more inventive, less atmospheric than our wizards); and for readers nicely retrospective at all costs there are Marion Crawford, Saki, and M. R. James.
Derek Stanford. tecture of India," which was published in 1953.
Again they have a habit of describing the country in such a romantic way that it is often almost impossible to recognise it. They describe Travancore, for instance, as a land of canals and gondolas " where it is easier to travel by gondola than by car." Who would guess that there are two main roads running down the length of the country and that nearly all the villages are connected by bus services.
MORE serious is the fantastic description which they give of the " Christians of St. Thomas."
They are described as though they were some barely surviving primitive tribe, and we are solemnly told that " the Roman Catholic Church made no attempt to study these primitive communities, being no doubt somewhat put out to discover the existence of a tomb of St. Thomas in India, when one already existed near Rome !"
Who would believe that there are at least two million " Christians of St. Thomas " today. of whom over a million are Catholics; that Rome has made every effort to preserve their ancient Syrian rites: that the tomb of St. Thomas was a recognised place of pilgrimage for Catholics in the time of Alfred the Great ?
The pilgrimage of these young adventurers ends with six months in a Hindu monastery. ' We are given to understand that this was not merely an experiment in sightseeing but a serious " spiritual experience," But their knowledge of Hinduism never appears to go much below the surface and the quality of their " spiritual experience' can be gauged by the' effect of a present of six bottles of cognac which reached them in the monastery from a friend.
On the whole we do not think that these young Frenchmen with their archeological zeal came any nearer to an understanding of " Spiritual India " than did Mr. rumbull.