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Notes on Current Books, Winter 1975

ISSUE:  Winter 1975

The thinking man’s coffee table book, supplied with numerous illustrations, some in color, not only of the master himself (e.g., portraits by Kramskoy and Repin), but also of his family, other writers of the time, and, perhaps most interesting, a wide variety of scenes from Russian life at all social and economic levels. Crankshaw’s text concentrates on the man rather than on the novelist. He does not tell us anything we did not already know, but the story is a fascinating one and Crankshaw tells it in an accomplished manner. He shows great common sense as he follows Tolstoy along his tortuous, contradictory path.

Proust and His World, by William Sansom. Scribner’s $7.95

When is a picture book not a picture book? On the evidence of this particular one, it would be possible to say when its text is by William Sansom. His understanding is so great that one learns from every page, even after having read Painter’s immense biography of Proust. Sansom’s style, language, fluency, and insight are all precisely right for the plan of his manuscript. And the publisher has also matched his author’s achievement by having the 145 illustrations on the pages on which they are mentioned. Such logic is almost unknown today.

A Forgotten Empress: Anna Ivanovna and Her Era, 1730—1740, by Mina Curtiss. Ungar $12.50

Anna Ivanovna, who has suffered the fate of being especially disliked by her successors, both Imperial and Soviet, was, unhappily, a disaster in her person—stout, stuffed, and popeyed. She did, however, continue the Westernizing policies of her uncle, Peter the Great, and had a reign which seems to have been rather better than usual in Mother Russia. In addition it was she who established the Imperial Russian Opera and Ballet. There is, therefore, more than a good word to be said for her and Mina Curtiss has said it in a thoroughly researched and immensely interesting way.

The Literary Correspondence of Donald Davidson and Allen Tate, edited by J. T. Fain and T. D. Young. Georgia $15

A well-edited selection of the correspondence of these important figures in the Southern literary renascence, this book concentrates on the lively and restless literary notions of the Fugitive and Agrarian movements in literature of which Davidson and Tate were seminal figures. This much-interrupted and sometimes uneven correspondence of some forty-five years duration involves much more, however, than these particular movements. It reveals the character and spirit of young poets learning their craft and carries the reader through the literary capitals of America and Europe in search of stability. The leaven of literary turbulence is rich in humanity and insight in this welcome volume.

H. G. Wells and Rebecca West, by Gordon N. Ray. Yale $7.95

When H. G. Wells discovered that Rebecca West, with whom he was having a rather long-term affair, and her mother had hooted with laughter at one of his books, he was immeasurably hurt. He would also be hurt at “H. G. Wells and Rebecca West” for one cannot suppress the giggles when reading this scholarly account of the liaison, an account based on his own letters to Miss West. He called himself Jaguar and her Panther, carrying Proust’s Swann’s language of love into the dangerous cutesie-pie area. Panther, for example, was frequently “Panfer” and the silly little love poems are as remote from the “Sonnets from the Portuguese” as they are from the harsh poets of today. It is impossible to take the business seriously. On the other hand, it is rather nice to see the triumph of the lady. Miss West, now a Dame, has reached such heights of respect that her rather fat, rather forty-ish, and rather frenzied lover is lost in the mists below.

Mark Twain & the South, by Arthur Pettit. Kentucky $9.75

Here is a fresh book, a well-constructed book, convincing and subtle. It is a study both vastly appreciative of the complexity of the character and thought of Samuel Clemens, and unsparing of the unsavory and tortured weaknesses of the man. Arthur Pettit makes sense of this man, renders even the worst of Clemens’ faults and prejudices not merely understandable, but somehow movingly evocative of the human condition in the face of historical forces. Pettit succeeds in convincing his reader of his prodigious grasp of the historical condition of not only the South, but the West and Northeast in the time of Clemens’ life. This well-written, nicely condensed account does more. It modestly poses problems of artistic and social psychology that carry into our own time; it succeeds in making of Clemens’ double life of rejection and subscription, moral fervor and black nihilism, a touchstone for the study of the evolution of contemporary man. The author is not guilty of any pretensions in this regard: any well-done study of Clemens must stand as an index of suspended contradictions at the root of modern thought.

The Letters of Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1807—1833, edited by Thomas Pinney. Cambridge 2 vols. $31.50

These first two volumes of a projected multi-volume collection of the letters of Macaulay is a most welcome addition to nineteenth-century studies. Professor Pinney has brought up to date new findings and letters of Macaulay that are a significant improvement over existing published collections. The letters are arranged chronologically as well as according to historical theme and the major phases of Macaulay’s life. The letters are well footnoted. A very fine, although brief, introduction to Macaulay’s life and manuscript sources involved in the publication of these volumes rounds out this work. For those already familiar with the life and work of Macaulay, these letters will provide some exciting new views of him and his time; for those who are less familiar with Macaulay, they will reveal an extraordinarily gifted and interesting Victorian.

Keith Douglas, 1920—1944. A Biography, by Desmond Graham. Oxford $17.75

Was Keith Douglas, who was killed in Normandy three days after D-Day, the finest war poet of his generation as the dust jacket indicates? Possibly. What is certain, however, after reading this excellent study, is that Douglas was very possibly the finest soldier-poet of the war. There is a difference between the two as the study implies but never makes fully clear. Earlier anthologies of the poets of World War II have uniformly omitted reference to Douglas’ poetry. This unfortunate blindness should now be corrected. Douglas was a self-proclaimed militarist, but one who was constantly at odds with the military. The difference between Douglas and so many others of his generation (and ours?) is his honesty about his love/hate relationship with the army. He knew as probably only a soldier can know both the virtues and vices of soldiering. A fine study.

Radical Journalist H. W. Massingham, 1860—1924, by Alfred H. Havinghurst. Cambridge $19.50

It is an accomplishment indeed to have written so very good a biography of this cold man who systematically destroyed his personal correspondence and whose writings in the press are largely unsigned. It is the more impressive that Havinghurst has revealed the inner workings of this machinelike professional man, a vastly respected and much feared founder of modern journalism, but a man scarcely loved even by his own children. Massingham’s life was invested in ink and paper, where he fought both for public awareness and responsibility, revolutionizing the art and science of reporting, creating in his Nation a standard for modern editorial practice. Here is the portrait of a bewildering man, a radical almost without a party after early rejecting Fabianism subsequently to criticize relentlessly the Liberal party to which he felt some allegiance. Political crusader of deeply evangelical religious convictions, an intellectual critic who detested commercialism and timidity of the right, Massingham deserves this fine biography.

HISTORY The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700), by Jaroslav Pelikan. Chicago $16.50

The second installment of this projected five-volume account of Christian doctrine displays the same mastery of ancient and modern theological literature, the same penetrating analytical clarity and balanced presentation of conflicting contentions, that made its predecessor such an intellectual treat. In dealing here with the rich, complex, and—in the West—still so grossly ignored or perversely distorted subject matter of Greek Orthodoxy and its not always orthodox affiliates, Professor Pelikan first describes the emergence of a coherent body of beliefs based upon Scripture and the Fathers, and then traces the consolidation of this through the major Ghristological debates that culminated in the Iconoclastic Controversy. Both sides of this climactic dispute are presented with notable skill. The fateful—perhaps we may yet have to say, fatal—estrangement between the Eastern and Western Churches, a dichotomy further intensified by the eruption of a Protestant West in the age of the Reformation, receives sympathetic exposition as viewed through the eyes of Byzantine critics. Particularly fascinating pages detail the long story of Orthodox apologetics mounted in defense of Trinitarian monotheism against the counter-attacks of medieval Judaism and Islam, while others depict the final flowering of the Eastern religious originality in the mystical movement of the later Middle Ages. The book leaves two impressions: first, its intelligent illumination of the poorly known centuries of Orthodox Christian thinking; secondly, its demonstration, as in Volume I, of the centrality of doctrinal development in the whole intellectual tradition of Western civilization.

A Concise History of Spain, by Henry Kamen. Scribner’s $9.95

This volume of under two hundred pages contains 168 often well chosen and handsomely reproduced illustrations. In consequence the accompanying text must settle for a sketch of Spain’s long history that is very concise indeed. Nevertheless, as might be expected from this British author of highly regarded scholarly books on the Inquisition and on the War of the Spanish Succession, the fast-moving narrative is lucid, surprisingly informative, and always thoughtful. Most interesting perhaps are those sections devoted to the eighteenth century and to the decades embracing the latest civil war and the Franco period. Professor Kamen closes with the reflection that however Spain’s long-standing problems may be confronted in the imminent post-Franco era, the country’s changes will reflect “the remarkable humanity and genius of a nation that has yet to display its modern potential.”

Medieval Japan, edited by John W. Hall and Jeffrey P. Mass. Yale $12.50

As John Hall notes in the introduction to the eleven essays that constitute this book, Western scholars have long neglected Japan’s “medieval” era. The period from the ninth century to the sixteenth, during which Japan moved from centralized rule by imperial courtiers to decentralized governance by warriors, has been treated only sketchily in survey histories; various interpretations of medieval political and economic life long since questioned and rebutted by Japanese scholars have remained unchallenged. But no longer. This book, the work of eight American specialists on the period, presents a wealth of provocative new hypotheses about the nature of imperial government in the Heian period, the bases of warrior ascendancy, and more broadly, the dynamics of institutional change in premodern Japan. The book is perhaps too detailed and (necessarily) filled with Japanese terms for the casual reader, but it is well worth the attention of specialists in Japanese studies and students of comparative feudalism.

The German Naval Officer Corps; a Social and Political History, 1890—1918, by Holger H. Herwig. Oxford $19.25

In German historical writing the imperial naval officer was usually presented as more cosmopolitan, more liberal, and better educated than his brother officer in the Prussian army. To some degree the German navy was bourgeois rather than aristocratic, and national rather than Prussian, with a tradition that derived in part from the revolution of 1848. The thesis of this study is clearly presented and well sustained: that instead of the naval officer corps establishing its own life style and service image, it acquired, or had forced upon it, those of the Prussian officer corps. By politic selection of the annual class of two hundred cadets, and through the weeding process to which they were subjected before commissioning, the naval officer corps abandoned its original heritage and adopted the standards, manners, and values that distinguished the Prussian army. This select group of executive officers—those qualified for active command—was set apart from the engineer and technical officers, who strove nevertheless to gain a position of equality in the naval high command. Likewise, deck officers, ranking between ordinary seamen and commissioned officers, sought unsuccessfully a greater measure of recognition and corporate organization. In the author’s opinion, the prevailing social stratification of German society was visibly reflected in the naval establishment. The tensions and faults engendered by these social distinctions and strivings were heightened by the conditions of service in the high seas fleet during the war. At the end of hostilities, the gap between executive officer corps and the ordinary seamen had become unbridgeable, and the engineer and deck officers, now alienated and dissatisfied, assumed a neutral attitude toward unrest and disaffection among the ships crews. It was mutiny in the navy that sparked the German revolution in 1918. As the activists in the fleet gained the upper hand, Grand Admiral Prince Henry, the Kaiser’s brother, fled from Kiel on November 5, “wearing a red arm band and driving a truck that flew the red flag.”

The Fascist Persuasion in Radical Politics, by A. James Gregor. Princeton $15

Is the Italian Fascism of Mussolini the twentieth-century paradigm for radical movements both Left and Right? It is according to Gregor, who has put together an impressive essay-study of modern radical movements. From the Marcusian Marxism of American college students to the variants on the theme in Asia, the Caribbean, and Black Liberation movements at home and abroad, the pattern of politics is essentially the same—fascism is the prototypic model. Gregor’s thesis is not entirely new—that totalitarianism is a form of political disease that embraces both Left and Right and in power there is nothing to chose between the two. What he does offer that is new is a much more specific analytic framework to test this hypothesis than has heretofore been put forward systematically and with such insight. There are no doubt problems with this argument that ought to be modified, but even so it is a most thought-provoking study.

Fame and the Founding Fathers: Essays by Douglass Adair, edited by Trevor Colbourn. Norton $14.95

These essays by the late Douglass Adair are distinguished for their literary charm and profound scholarship. Most of them have previously appeared in scattered publications, but historians will rejoice to see them conveniently brought together in this volume. Rejecting the economic interpretation of motives, Adair believed that to understand the Founding Fathers it is more important to probe their minds than to examine their pocketbooks. In the title essay, his “last historical testament,” he brilliantly reconciles the “idealist” and “behavioral” approaches by offering an enlarged concept of self-interest that would include the “love of fame.” The Founders’ passion for fame, he argues, “transmuted the leaden desire for self-aggrandizement and personal reward into a golden concern for public service and the promotion of the commonwealth.” Although his special field was the eighteenth century, Adair traversed the entire landscape of American history in several historiographical studies. He also demonstrated a flair for detective work, choosing subjects as mysteries to be solved by rigorous examination of evidence and logical deduction. Perhaps the outstanding example of this genre is “The Jefferson Scandals,” written in 1960, but published here for the first time. His account contains the most thorough critical discussion to date of the conflicting sources of the Sally Hemings affair, though skeptics will dispute Adair’s claim to have solved the mystery of the paternity of Sally’s children.

Two Paths to the New South: The Virginia Debt Controversy, 1870—1883, by James Tice Moore. Kentucky $12.95

Historians grown used to the “New South” generalizations of a decade ago will have now to reckon with this careful and well-written little study, the burden of which is to render the struggle of Funders and Readjusters in a perspective that fully appreciates the complexity of human economical emotions. Moore reveals coalitions of interest more subtle and complex than the traditional “urban” versus “rural” notion. Eastern planters, merchants, and professional men sought to reaffirm a legalistic view of society through the payment of Virginia’s debt burden, amassed in building railroads and public improvements in the 1850’5. Readjusters drew support from both insurgents and ruined or embittered planters, including some of the most prominent “Bourbons” of Virginia. Both struggled for a “New South,” differing insofar as the former were sensible and the latter imaginative. A fine study and explanation of the process wherein Virginia chose leaders, progressed, and rebuilt her prosperity for twenty years, before lapsing into Redeemer suspended animation.

Foreign Policy and the Bureaucratic Process, by William I. Bacchus. Princeton $14.50

This is an outstanding study of organizational behavior in the foreign policy process. In 1966 the State Department attempted to strengthen its geographic bureaus through the “Country Director” system. These directors were charged with the task of providing a government with leadership and co-ordination of policy. Bacchus has studied this organization through the extensive use of questionnaires directed to the specific individuals involved. Appendix C to his work provides an excellent overview of this methodology, which should provide a guide to future studies of this sort. Particular attention is directed to the categories of interviews and the thoughtfully detailed conclusions which the author draws from them. This is a careful work of meticulous scholarship.

Diderot’s Chaotic Order: Approach to Synthesis, by Lester G. Crocker. Princeton $10

The importance of the Enlightenment and the fascination it holds for scholars seems to be bottomless. It never loses its vitality as a field of inquiry, Lester Crocker, the already distinguished political biographer of Rousseau, has once more shown that the eighteenth century is ever fresh to original minds. That Diderot was one of the major intellectual influences of that era few have denied; but how to make some sort of sense out of and systematize his thought has proven an elusive task for historians. In this rather brief essay Crocker has no doubt succeeded far better than anyone else to date. To most historians the disorder of Diderot’s thought has been its most distinguishing characteristic; in this study, however, Crocker has succeeded remarkably well in demonstrating the more basic and fundamental unity behind his enigmatic works. Insightful, well written, an absorbing study.

Clio and the Doctors: Psycho-History, Quanto-History, and History, by Jacques Barzun. Chicago $7.95

Professor Barzun’s target in this charming polemic is the prescription offered by the “doctors,” the psychoanalysts and statisticians, for reviving History, alleged to be suffering from superficiality, impressionism, uncertainty, and other diseases. Barzun believes that the proposed remedy, to inject Clio with the supposedly precise methods of the doctors, would in fact be the death of the venerable Muse. Applying historical perspective to his subject, the author shows that this latest historiographical vogue is really a throwback to an earlier era, around the turn of the century, when the urge to merge history with assorted ologies was also the fashion. The assumptions of the “new history” are the same today as they were then, and it is to these that Barzun directs his critical fire. He does not reject psycho- and quanto-history on esthetic grounds, though the arcane jargon of the former and complicated charts and graphs (which show results, not evidence) of the latter reflect the basic shortcoming. The fatal defect of the new history, Barzun contends, is its monistic reductionism; in its quest for the “underlying” reality, it drains Clio of her lifeblood of particularity, diversity, and heterogeneity. A true history, says Barzun, shows the past as a confusion that up to a point can be explained; its purpose is not to provide “lessons,” but to cultivate the mind so that it can rise above the conventional wisdom, ignorance, and self-centeredness of the living generation. This is an elegant essay, full of wit and verve, with a serious argument that all readers of history should ponder.

LITERARY STUDIES Truth to Life: The Art of Biography in the Nineteenth Century, by A. O. J. Cockshut. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich $7.50

This lively book divides into two parts, a study of recurring problems in biographical writing, and a series of shrewd, energetic analyses of some important biographies: Stanley’s “Arnold,” Trevelyan’s “Macaulay,” Froude’s “Carlyle,” Morley’s “Gladstone,” and Ward’s “Newman” (with Samuel Smiles’ “Lives of the Engineers” thrown in by way of comparison and contrast). Cockshut has much of interest to say about general topics, such as the interpretation of childhood by biographers who met their subjects in later life; the problem of prudery about sexual matters; and the artistic handling of the obligatory deathbed scene. But the real direction of the book is conveyed by the chapter that treats “The Milieu” under the headings of “The Protestant ethos” and “Oxford in 1832.” As could be expected from this distinguished student of religious controversies, Cockshut moves at ease through the issues, and among the personalities, of the day; and although he sometimes protests that he approaches biographies as literature rather than truth, it is clear that his interests extend (very properly) to both aspects. Indeed, the one disappointment of the book is that it somewhat skirts the problem suggested by its title, “Truth to Life,” for Cockshut seems unsure whether we must draw on external evidence to supplement a biography, or whether we should surrender to its logic, as to any work of art, unless that logic is flawed by obvious internal contradictions. The excellence of “Truth to Life” lies not so much in the theory of biography as in the richness and clarity of its specific analyses. At the level of intellectual history, for instance, Cockshut offers a strong defense of the Oxford Movement against the condescension of the high agnostics of the end of the century, and traces an evolution in temperament and assumptions from the Clapham Sect down to Bloomsbury. And on the individual biographies he is consistently impressive, not least because he avoids the formal literary-critical anatomy which an American writer would probably have thought necessary. Instead he moves freely and persuasively between biographer and subject, setting his own considered view of each great man against the picture conveyed by the biographer’s particular combination of affection, prejudice, wisdom, and literary skill.

The Foreground of “Leaves of Grass,” by Floyd Stovall. Virginia $15

The length and detail of this definitive study is the result of Professor Stovall’s conviction that the coming-of-age of the poet Whitman was more a matter of “life experience” than direct intellectual influence. He argues that whatever idea or attitude does influence Whitman, even most significantly, first changes the man— becomes integrally part of his mind and character—and only subsequently is expressed in the poems. His long “Foreground” thus attempts to recreate the dense complexity of the intellectual and cultural climate from which Whitman emerged. It is rich in fact and demonstration—a welcome relief from the tenuous theorizing about the young Whitman’s secret life which too often characterizes attempts to explain what Stovall himself calls “the enigma of genius.” One might argue at times about matters of emphasis—the relative inattention, for instance, to the reform movements of the 1840’s—but on the whole this is solid material indeed, and it meets what has long been one of the urgent needs in the scholarship of Whitman.

Walt Whitman and Wallace Stevens, by Diane Wood Middlebrook. Cornell $10

This challenging comparative study of America’s grandest rowdy and her greatest dandy is essentially an essay in definition of heroic romanticism. The common origin of the poems of these apparently incompatible personalities, Professor Middlebrook argues, lies in their realization of the myth of the salvatory poet, the ultimate Man Imagining, and she analyzes their progress toward that myth according to Coleridge’s theory of primary and secondary imagination. Her method is not entirely satisfactory, for it leads at times to the distortion of Whitman’s work particularly and to the discussion of poems at rather too abstracted a level of paraphrase. But the inquiry is rigorous and purposeful. If Professor Middlebrook does not always come up with the exhaustive answer, she does invariably ask the provocative question, and she brings a remarkable sanity to her reading of Stevens’ later work.

The Inverted Bell: Modernism and the Counterpoetics of William Carlos Williams, by Joseph N. Riddel. Louisiana $10.95

It seems fair to say of this phenomenological study of Williams what Huck said of “Pilgrim’s Progress”: “The statements was interesting, but tough.” Using the methodology of Jacques Derrida in particular, Professor Riddel attempts a metapoetic analysis of complexities and paradoxes: he demonstrates the way in which all of Williams’ work somehow becomes a sustained apposition to the unnameable Noun that denotes the creative source. The translation of Williams’ American idiom into the language of philosophy seems at times distortive or gratuitous, but “rigor of beauty is the quest,” and there can be no reservations about the importance of Professor Riddel’s subject. Recommended for the initiated and devoted. No others need apply.

The Indians of Yoknapatawpha: A Study in Literature and History, by Lewis M. Dabney. Louisiana $6.95

An unwillingness of students of American literature to investigate the history and lore of Southern Indian tribes (most notably the Choctaw and Chickasaw) has caused the sad neglect of several of William Faulkner’s stories in which Indians of these tribes play important rôles. Lewis M. Dabney obviates any future critic’s plea of ignorance by exploring “The Wilderness” section of Faulkner’s “Collected Stories” and “The Old People” and “The Bear” of “Go Down, Moses.” In brief but thorough analyses of each of these six stories, Dabney discovers a rich Faulknerian knowledge of Indian folklore and history, as well as the novelist’s incorporation into fiction of his experiences, observations, and celebrated grasp of human nature. For Dabney, Faulkner’s Indians are “neither nature’s noblemen nor brutes”; instead, they are human beings, sharers in what Faulkner once called “the heritage of man.”

Black Poetry in America, by Blyden Jackson and Louis D. Rubin, Jr. Louisiana $5.95

Consisting of two essays in historical interpretation, Professor Rubin’s “The Search for a Language, 1746—1923” and Professor Jackson’s “From One “New Negro” to Another, 1923—1972,” this book is a needed addition to serious inquiry about black poetry. In his attempt to chart progressive stages in the quest for a language correlative to actual black self-image, Rubin argues subtly that choices were governed mainly by sociolinguistic dynamics. Jackson undertakes the larger task of explaining how the language quest shifts, during the Harlem Renaissance and after, to a search for forms that delineate modes of modern black American existence. The use of the metaphor of search to construct interpretations of so great a span of black poetic activity leads one to question the soundness of the authors’ historiography. Despite such a flaw, these introductory essays contribute to scholarship by way of the paths they suggest for further work. And students of black poetry will find the bibliography invaluable.

Joyce in Nighttown, by Mark Shechner. California $10

“Joyce in Nighttown” is the best psychoanalytic study of James Joyce to date. Unlike earlier critics, Mark Shechner is thoroughly acquainted with the principles of Freudian analysis. He makes extensive use of Joyce’s 1909 correspondence with Nora to interpret “Ulysses” as an “autobiographical roman à clef.” Psychoanalytic criticism adds a new, interesting, and credible dimension to our understanding of Joyce. But it assumes that such characters as Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom are autobiographical projections of their author. The skeptical reader will question Shechner’s methodology. How far are we willing to trace Joyce’s “dialectic of anal control”? Are Molly Bloom and Bella Cohen merely extensions of the phallic mother? And are Leopold Bloom’s sexual fantasies a confessional manifestation of oral displacement? Shechner translates “Ulysses” into an encyclopedia of psychosexual exorcism. “Joyce in Nighttown” offers some fascinating correlations, presented in a witty and absorbing style. Nevertheless, our response to Shechner’s theories will be contingent on our esteem for the validity of a Freudian critical methodology.

The Restoration Mode from Milton to Dryden, by Earl Miner. Princeton $20; paper $9.50

In this, the third volume of his “modal” studies, Professor Miner deals with, the way in which the poets of the Restoration regard “the perceptual triad” of the self, other people, and the world. What distinguishes them in this respect, and thus what constitutes their “mode,” is the high value they place on public things—what men and women share. Conversely, they tend to be suspicious of what is nonpublic. This approach has the advantage of providing a category for Restoration poetry without forcing it into a strait jacket. Thus the author can consider three poets so different as Butler, Dryden, and Milton in terms of what they have in common. Mr. Miner’s discussions are almost always illuminating, and his erudition is impressive though never dull.

An Introduction to English Literature, by Jorge Luis Borges. Translated and edited by L. Clark Keating and Robert O. Evans. Kentucky $6.25

To survey English literature in 72 pages (65 in Spanish) obviously involves a great deal of generalization. Borges accomplishes this by cutting straight through to the central facts, dealing with the language, its origins and changes, and devoting a short chapter to each easily compressible period. The result is not a mundane outline but a sensitive overview, enriched with a writer’s interleaving of the monuments of authorship in a language not his own. An absorbing little book.

Stendhal: The Education of a Novelist, by Geoffrey Strickland. Cambridge $16.50

In this fresh appraisal of three of Stendhal’s most significant novels, “Le Rouge et le Noir,” “Lucien Leuwen,” and “La Chartreuse de Parme,” emphasis is placed on the educational apprenticeship of the writer. It is Stendhal principally as critic and commentator that Professor Strickland analyzes in this study. Most significantly, he aims to situate Stendhal in the proper historical and cultural perspectives of his time. Beyle’s relentless examination of Bentham’s utilitarianism and of all which sprang from such principles is seen as the key to our understanding the proleptic consciousness so much in evidence in his principal fiction. Professor Strickland maintains a beautiful balance between historical exposition of facts and explication or critical commentary. His readings of the novels in question are both provocative and illuminating. “Stendhal: The Education of a Novelist” should appeal as much to the specialist as to the general reader. Key passages which are cited to illustrate points that are made have been translated expertly into English.

Major Lyricists of the Northern Sung, by James J. Y. Liu. Princeton $15

Here again, a book on Chinese poetry (in this case, the tz’u) done as such books should be done, with Chinese character text, English alphabet transliteration, word-for-word rendition, and finally, a smooth English language translation. Notes and commentary frequently follow. The four principal chapters neatly divide the types of tz’u of the time of Northern Sung into four categories as represented by their main exponents. The poems of Ou-yang Hsiu are especially well chosen.

A Chinese Look at Literature, by David E. Pollard. California $12

This is not a work for the general reader, but it is the sort of work that has long been needed. The book centers on the writings of Chou Tso-jen who was born in 1885. The all-too-brief Chapter I links Chou with the giants of the past, such as Chu Hsi, and with the literary tenor of contemporary China. The chapter on” “Taste” and Tastes” is particularly worthy of attention.

GENERAL The New Oxford History of Music. Vol. X: The Modern Age, 1890—1960, edited by Martin Cooper. Oxford $32.50

A brief but astute introduction leads to a series of monographs by various contributors on aspects of modern music: the apogee of, and reaction against, Romanticism, 1890—1914; stage work, 1890—1918; music in the mainland of Europe, 1918—1939, and of the European mainstream, 1940-1960; music in Britain and America, 1918-1960; and music in the Soviet Union. Although there are useful bibliographies, both general and of individual composers, this is not an encyclopedia nor a reference work; rather, in line with the object of the other volumes in the series, it proposes to present music not as an isolated phenomenon but “as an art developing in constant association with every form of human culture and activity.” The change in attitude from regarding music as a language for communication, “a vehicle for emotional expression,” to “the idea of music as pure sound construction,” music as architecture, is admirably treated, and although this dichotomy may be questioned by some it is essential to an understanding of many significant developments in the art. Value judgments by the contributors, though informed, may also occasionally seem questionable, but the observations and ideas, the analyses and conclusions, are always stimulating and provocative. Most of the discussions are well presented for the intelligent layman, whereas Paul Evans’ excellent chapter, “Music of the European Mainstream: 1940—1960,” is necessarily more technical. This is a valuable work.

The Ritual Lament in Greek Tradition, by Margaret Alexiou. Cambridge $16.50

At appropriate points in the proceedings, the chorus in Greek tragedy customarily gives voice to wild and seemingly almost hysterical expressions of grief, in forms that are classified under such categories as threnos, kommos, goos, and so forth. The thesis of this book, more than amply demonstrated, is that laments of this sort were no mere stage convention, but represented a long tradition of vocal lamentation, practiced continuously from archaic down into modern times, usually by the women of the household on the occasion of a death in the family, but also at times of national disaster, such as the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A. D., the plague which swept the island of Rhodes in 1498—1499, and the earthquake which shook the island of Crete in 1508. The type was also employed in the service of religion, both ancient (ritual laments for gods and heroes, such as Adonis, Linos, and Hyakinthos) and Christian (notably the mourning of the Virgin for the crucified Christ). Much of this was, and to some degree still is, extemporaneous, but it is also stylized, and there is a parallel on the popular level with the oral development of epic verse, as it has been discerned by Milman Parry and Albert Lord. A large number of examples of each type of lament are collected, and the elements analyzed.

The Use and Abuse of Art, by Jacques Barzun. Princeton $6.95

When an extremely intellectual, extremely experienced, extremely wise man shares his thoughts with others, the result seizes the imagination at once. Such is the effect of these essays, a series given as lectures at the National Gallery in 1973. Mr. Barzun examines art as religion, as destroyer, as redeemer, and in relation to what he calls “its tempter, science,” but never forgets the basic essential. As he says, “the last word on art should indeed be: mystery. But that need not stop any of us from dealing with it as if we understood more than we can.” And how good it is to have one’s mind stretched to that understanding of “more.”

The Byzantine Wall Paintings of Crete, by Konstantin Kalokyris. Red Dust $25

There are some 600 small Byzantine churches surviving on Crete and most of them contain remains of wall paintings, dating mostly from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries. They are, of course, hieratic, and on the whole anonymous, although one name, that of John Pagomenos, has come down to us. The body of work is of extraordinary quality, and that so many should still be in situ is astonishing. This book is simply an appetizer, for, ample as it is, one sees the immediate need for more information, more photographs, and a more complete survey, since the murals form a national treasure which has been sorely neglected. But what an appetizer the book is!

The Stained Glass of William Morris and His Circle, by A. Charles Sewter. Yale $50

After the malaise which had afflicted the making of stained glass during almost the whole of the eighteenth century—the painted pane syndrome—the nineteenth century saw the emergence of the return to small mosaics of colored glass, painted, it is true, to some degree, but never to the degree of destroying the effect of the glass as glass or of the leads and saddle-bars. One of the leaders in the second half of the century of this renaissance was the firm founded by William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, D. G. Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, Philip Webb, C. J. Faulkner, and P. P. Marshall. This group of remarkable men produced an enormous body of work. Although there are no fewer than 660 illustrations in the present volume, the author promises a complete catalogue in a second volume. One can only guess, then, at the total scope of the firm in this single field. To be able to say that there is no badly designed window in the 660 illustrations is only a weak measure of the worth of the innumerable designs. To be able to say that the firm had an immense effect on other contemporary designers and firms is a very good way of judging this energetic group. When it is realized that the firm produced buildings, furniture, tapestries, wallpaper, tiles, table glass, and typography as well, one is overwhelmed with the firm’s energies and especially those of Morris, who managed it all. Mr. Sewter has written just the right amount of information in this book. One is given a very firm account of the importance of the factory, of the designers, and of the workers. The visual element is wisely the major portion of the book, and it is no fault of the author, the publisher, or the photographers that stained glass stubbornly resists the blandishments of the camera. In spite of this technological difficulty, nothing finer on the subject has been published.

History Preserved: A Guide to New York City Landmarks and Historic Districts, by Harmon H. Goldstone and Martha Dalrymple. Simon & Schuster $12.95

This book is a sore temptation for those who are interested either in history or architecture, or both. If New York were not so expensive for the visitor, a season following the information in the guide would make one of the more interesting vacations. New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has included types of buildings ranging from mills to farmhouses, from universities to cathedrals, from office buildings to homes, while the dates cover parts of four centuries. Each landmark is given ample space within a chapter and its architecture, its history, and something about its builder are all set down. Although the book is a little thick for carrying about the streets, its information is easily extracted. This extraction is made easier by the inclusion of sectional maps, a glossary, a bibliography, a chronological chart, and a very full index. Its only fault is a series of very inept sketches but they, fortunately, form only a small portion of the illustrations.

Ch’i: A Neo-Taoist Approach to Life, by R. G. H. Siu. MIT $10

After skimming through “The Tao of Science” and “The Man of Many Qualities,” one is inclined to wonder what sort of a filing system Mr. Siu employes. The mystery deepens when one reads—not “skims”—this explosive piece of erudition concerning ch’i, which completes the trilogy. Though Dr. Siu misses the delicate ambiguities of Plato’s account of “time” in the “Timaeus,” his renderings of the classical accounts of “time” are amazingly good, up to and including Whitehead’s paper delivered at the Sixth International Congress on Philosophy. This is heady reading, but it is good reading, even though one might have wished for a more articulate connection with the somewhat neglected Chinese sources.

The Mound People: Danish Bronze-Age Man Preserved, by P. V. Glob. Cornell $12.50

In his book, “The Bog People,” the Danish archaeologist P. V. Glob described the extraordinary human bodies, sacrificed to the Earth Mother during the Iron Age, whose clothes, skin, and even beard stubble had been perfectly preserved in peat bogs for two millennia. He now presents the earlier Mound People, not sacrifices this time but members of a Bronze Age ruling class, buried with full honors in oak coffins under great earthen mounds. A number of these bodies too have been partially preserved, such as that of the Egtved Girl, barely twenty when she died, slender, blonde, and clad in a miniskirt that outraged public delicacy when the find was described in 1929. They lack the sensational appeal of the Bog People, for no faces survive, and it is those mysterious, brooding faces that make the Bog People unforgettable. But the general reader will find much of interest in this profusely illustrated survey of a powerful, cattle-breeding, sunworshipping race whose noble dead have slept in nothern Europe for three thousand years, and whose burials ceased only when a new religious faith sought by cremation to liberate the soul from the perishable body.


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