Reviewed by W. IGOE
mR. PRIESTLEY is 70 — a depressing thought. Bill as Cardinal Spellman observed when he reached that age, one is consoled by the consideration that if he were not 70 he would be dead.
His novels have been read by millions. his plays seen by many thousands. He is one of those too few writers who by cultivated skill, down-toearth intelligence and honesty has entertained us and made us think.
He is a curious man. by which .1 nieart that while, in an unobstrusive way, he is not a religious person, he is avidly curious about the world, time, people and morals. Like the Prime Minister his background is nonconformist. and mme the worst for it.
I have thought that his An Inspector Calls says just about all that need be sdid (if people would listen) about social injustice. The most evil and most widespread way of grinding the faces of the poor is to do so absentmindedly.
The doctrine of hell may have gone out of fashion for the next world, but it does make sense in this world. especially to victims of the bland casuists who practise. as a svay of life. social injustice.
There was a touch of Christianty (the Chesterbelloc would have approved) and anarchy in Summer Day's Dream I949,. which I am glad to see Prof. Evans says should have received a better reception. But it appeared at a time when Mr. Priestley's warm and humane commonsense was becoming an outmoded quality
This book analyses Mr. Priestley's "time" plays, his comedies and his social plays: to those of us who saw and enjoyed these works it is revealing and profitable.
Priestley's virtues are manifested in his craftsman's skill: he is a writer of such versatility that his mastery of the crafts of the novel. the play. the essay, criticism and journalism have led to him being underestimated in recent years. He is a rather outmoded species. a man of letters.
One reads Prof. Evans' book with the naggingly irritating thought that the plays of I. B. Priestley have not been presented to a younger generation with the skill in acting and production they merit. I hope the National Theatre will soon remedy this sorry stale of affairs: when they do. this book May receive thb wide readership its subject and its author merit.