A Zen abbot looks for the Absolute
SEGAKI. by David Stacton (Faber and Faber, 15s.).
REAP THE WHIRLWIND, by Jean Hougron (Hutchinson, 16s.).
THE UNCERTAIN MIDNIGHT, by Edmund Cooper (Hutchinson, 13s. 6d.).
DISOBEDIENCE, by Jane Gillispie (Peter Davies, 15s.).
"SEGAKI", written with the res straint and formalism that befits its Japanese setting. is a mediaeval story centred round Muchaku, a somewhat blase abbot of a monastery of Zen Buddhist monks, who goes out in search of his brother, a famous painter. But it is still more a search for the Absolute.
On his travels he meets with all manner of strange occurrences, which would seem to have some symbolic meaning. Ghosts appear, and mysterious snails, and a company of white foxes who behave like courtiers. The story is difficult to unravel, but the prose is beautiful and poetic.
IN "Reap the Whirlwind" by Jean
Hougron, known in his own country as the French Conrad, we meet again Dr. Lastin of "Blaze of the Sun". The only doctor in an upcountry town in Northern IndoChina. where he lives with his
e wife. Lee. he is m close touch with the three communities -Chinese, Laotian, and French.
A vivid, realistic study of life in Indo-China in the period of the dying French rule.
EDMUND COOPER in "The
Uncertain Midnight" looks ahead to a time when nuclear warfare in the late 1960's will have changed London into a republic with a diminished population of human beings dependent for their existence on androids-robots that have the appearance of men and women.
But will these servants he content to remain as such, subservient to creatures less skilful than themselves? What chance, too, in such a world, of permanent love or happiness?
IN "Disobedience", a story that
is written with discernment, compassion, and tolerance for human weakness, Jane Gillispie studies the problems of the older among the young generation-why it is that some of them marry without being deeply in love, then drift apart; why. too. their conflicts are not intelligible to those of a generation older than themselves.
Perhaps the characters arc a little to clear-cut-too perfect or unnecessarily unreasonable. Even so, the% live.
Her glass is never a pastiche on styles ancient or modern; her designs grew quietly and naturally out of liturgical or secular needs and emerged from her imaginative mind clear-cut and strong. direct in their expression as a primitive. uninhibited by movement, yet of our times and belonging to us bearing all the marks of our century.
Evie Hone's most impressive work, bar the Eton chapel window, is in her own country, Ireland, and for the first time some of its magnificence has been transported over here-the Ascension window from Kingscourt, the Beatitudes and the Last Supper from I ullabeg among others-and are shown illuminated in a darkened gallery with the result that we are transported suddenly into a glowing, magical, exciting world whose stars are jewels of the intensest colour.
To see this exhibition is an eat perience too rare hi he missed.