THE Crippled Tree by Han
Suyin (Cape, 35s.), is a fascinating hook. The author, daughter of a Chinese father and a Belgian mother — who defied prejudice to marry gives a vivid account of lite in a feudal Chinese family.
Marguerite from Belgium did not find happiness in China. Though courteously received by her husband's people, she shocked and puzzled them, and to the Chinese with whom she came in contact she remained the "foreign woman". Her fellow Europeans ostracised her.
Mrs. Suyin writes with love of the Chinese—artistic, intelligent. industrious, thrifty, patient —and with deep sympathy for their terrible sufferings in the years of revolution.
She also goes some way to making us understand why such a race of individualists have accepted the present regime. Without bitterness, she tells of the shocking exploitation of the Chinese by the Great Powers and of the corruption of the Manchu dynasty, so that one appreciates that the Chinese must rejoice that at last China belongs to them. In short, the regime is accepted — even by such feudal families as hers because it is nationalist.
It is sad to learn that some Western missionaries did not hesitate to join the exploiters at the expense of the Chinese to whom they had ostensibly come to preach the Gospel. A comment by the author's third uncle on the Japanese is also interest ing : The uncivilised heart despite the politeness.
With China now powerful, and hound to play an increasingly important part in world affairs. this deeply moving book is one to ponder. Finally. one mistake: Queen Victoria was a niece of Leopold I of the Belgians. not of Leopold 11, who, having acquired the Congo, turned an eye to China.
Joan Young IN Man at Play; or Did you
ever practise Futrapelia? Fr Hugo Rahner, S.J.. treats us to an intoxicating blend of erudition and joviality (Burns & Oates, 10s. 6d.). Aristotle recognised the reasonably humorous man as virtuous as such, as opposed to the vicious extremes of the excessively surly and the professional funny man. Aquinas upheld this eutrapella as a quality proper to Christian men, as against many of the Fathers —notably St. Ambrose, whose opinion was that jokes of any kind were better avoided.
On the other hand. St. Anthony and St. Martin of Tours were known as wits. We are introduced. by references to the Fathers and parts of Scripture, to the idea of play and dance being anticipations of heavenly joy. God may be thought of as calling the material world and spirits into being in a kind of gigantic game.
and creation was surely a mighty display of pyrotechnics.
Proverbs viii 27-31 describes the Divine Wisdom playing before God, and Romano Guardini calls the liturgy a divine game. (There are some misprints in the Greek quotations, which contribute something to the exuberant and jocular atmosphere of the work as a whole )
J. J. Bagley, senior staff tutor in the Extra-Mural department of Liverpool University. has carried out a worthwhile task in his Historical Interpretation: Sources of English Medieval History, 1066-1540 (Pelican, 6s.).
He has made skilful selections from the vast range of documents that medieval historians use to give the general reader some inkling of the way in which historians use the material available to them and of the possibility that interpretations of that material may differ. Dividing his chapters by centuries, he illustrates each of them with quotations from chronicles, monastic accounts. pipe rolls, close rolls and letters. At the end of the book he provides a useful glossary of archaic and technical words used in the text.