Page 4, 8th July 1938

8th July 1938
Page 4
Page 4, 8th July 1938 — "Catholic Herald" BOOK OF THE WEEK

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Locations: Seville, Madrid, Toledo, Rome


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"Catholic Herald" BOOK OF THE WEEK

Bernard Wall In Spain

The Lover Is Unprejudiced

Spain of the Spaniards. By Bernard Wall. (Sheed and Ward, 5s.) -Reviewed by MICHAEL DE LA BEDOYERE The highest compliment I can pay Bernard Wall on this book is to say that if an intelligent Left leader, say Professor Laski, were to read it, he would, first of all, not be able to put it down because of the transparent honesty and beauty of the writing and the keenness of the observer's eye; secondly, he would admit that the interpretation of the spirit of National Spain is probably just and unbiassed; and, third, he would put the book away saying that he is determined to fight National Spain to the death just because it stands for that precise philosophy of life, described by this author, a philosophy in absolute contradiction with international Liberal-Socialism for the advancement of which a Laski must live.

Bernard Wall is here grandly impartial, not in the false sense of the word—which means watering down differences to a neutral colour that corresponds with nothing real, but by faithfully describing exactly what he sees and what he understands, and underlining differences whatever they may be. 1 would trust him to do another book on Red Spain and to tell me the truth about it. I know he would hate the ideals of Red Spain as he loves those of Nationalist Spain, but his views are too closely based on a realist observation to make him the victim of an a priori sense prejudice. He has a wide and deep enough mind to understand that realities alone are worth love or hate : you love them for what they are and you hate them all the more for your understanding them at their vividest, at their best.

This is a very short book—not a word too much and perhaps not a word too little, though his thirteen-page Foreword on the conflict of ideas makes one long for a fuller analysis. But with the artist's sure touch he limits himself to his definite object: to convey the differences of the Spaniard as he saw him during a short but extensive tour through Nationalist territory.

From gutted Irun to Salamanca, thence by Spanish trains — on which everyone seems to travel first-class no matter what tickets they have, and the servility of tips is scarcely known — through Avila, ("It might have been a Roman outpost at the end of Scotland ") to Seville, old and new; from Seville to Cadiz where he met Peman, the Nationalist poet, who stated that the " two dangers for Spain are clericalism and capitalism"; then to Toledo, with discussions on unsuppressible Moors who cannot understand why in a good cause one shouldn't kill all Reds in hospita,ls or anywhere else: and lastly to the Madrid front With the city lying like a map before one's eyes.

In all these places the author talked and drank with Spaniards of all kinds, the quintessence of whose remarks and characters is here given. The author does not lay down the law. He notes that at every turn the Spaniard seems in love with death, and reminds himself how this trait is characteristic of Spanish architecture and art; he asks himself whether the Spanish independence and chivalry and disregard of money do not betoken a freer spirit than the legal freedom of Britain; he is forced to the conclusion that the Nationalists are fighting for an ideal that, in so far as it is universal, is genuinely Christian and, in so far as it is particular, is historically Spanish, while their opponents are fighting for an imported Western internationalism, which may or may not be good, but is entirely different.

The moral of this book is not primarily that one side is right and the other wrong, but that anyone who presumes to write or talk about Spain without knowing the Spaniard in his history and his religion or at least without the guidance of an interpreter like the author is wasting ink and breath.

Brilliant, beautiful and greatly needed by partisans of both sides.

The Apostolic Tradition

The Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolytus of Rome. Edited by Gregory Dix. (S.P.C.K., 12s. 6d.) Reviewed by VINCENT McNABB, O.P.

That sound learning can pass from father to son is evidenced in this slender, valuable book. But that sometimes nothing is lost in the passage was evidenced when a few years ago the son disposed of Canon Streeter. There were some of us who thought that poor Streeter (R.I.P.) got only what he deserved.

The present study on the important work of Hippolytus has not called for any vigour of defence. It has only demanded what the writer has supplied—a very scholarly introduction and translation of one of the most important literary fragments of the early Church. A quotation from the Introduction summonses the apologetic value of the Apostolic Tradition : "It was written within a year or Iwo of A.D. 215, in any case . . . If Hippolytus was not yet at the head of a sect whose practice he 'night regulate at pleasure his evidence is all the more likely to represent faithfully the practice of the contemporary Church in Ronze."

The present writer finds particular satisfaction in the following extract: " The fact that this Judaic element persisted so much more strongly in the Church's liturgy and devotional practice than in its literature and quasi-philosophical theology is only a proof of its potency. From the point of view of the historian it cannot be too vigorously insisted on that it is liturgy and devotion which are the really formative element in the religion and culture . . of the immense dumb but praying multitudes which form the strength of Christendom in every age."

As there is not a line in Dom Gregory's 'scholarly book that falls from the height of this humble historic wisdom my readers will see that it is a book to buy.

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