Anonymous-1871-1935. (John Murray. 12s. 6d.)
Reviewed by G. CONWAY Beginning with an excerpt:
"We were allowed to use slang and even to swear and to smoke, but we did them daintily, and they pleased by their piquant contrast to our womanly ways and gowns. Now there is no contrast and daintiness has gone with other charms. Any vulgar thing may be said for the sake of its vulgarity, not for the sake of its trenchant and apt vigour."
The more one reads books about the nineties, the wider appears the gulf that flows between that rich, luxuriant, fertile territory and the stark lean granitey land of the twentieth century.
Anonymous is a product of that rich decade. She graduated in a school of leisurely culture and self-conscious rebellion against Victorian prudery and hushhush. She has been in constant touch with educated minds and has met with adversity. But she is English enough and woman enough to have carried her prejudices pennon-high and is not a whit afraid to put them in print.
Who will blame her for casting many .4 backward glance of regret at the other side of the gulf? We who have had to struggle in the war-scarred century must envy the generation who knew what elegance and an easy tempo of life meant. We are so far fallen from grace that it is difficult for us to imagine what dainty swearing is like. Surely there is only one purpose in swearing—that is, to get something irksome off the chest.
Down With The Moderns
For twenty-four years, the author tells us, she has been a reader of plays. What would have happened to George Bernard Shaw or to Noel Coward if their plays had been submitted to her? She will have none of them. Van Druten finds no favour with her either, nor Aldous Huxley. The whole of the Russian school comes under her flail—"neurotic and unbalanced" is her verdict. But "Ernest Newman may scoff as he likes at W. S. Gilbert. • . . If the world is coming back to sanity it is partly because the laughter of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas has done its share in clearing the air."
No one is going to quarrel with the author for her likes and dislikes. She is as much a child of her generation as are the stark realists of the post-war world, whom she condemns almost without a hearing. The book must be taken as a live record of a woman who started out as a revolutionary and who has ended up, as most revolutionaries do, in the camp of the extreme right.
The identity of the writer need worry no one, for it is doubtful if she is known outside the literary and dramatic coterie of London. But whoever the may be, a rich personality shines through the book.
Chords of Remembrance. By Mathilde Verne. (Hutchinson. 18s.) "We have always been musicians. To us music is the beginning and the end of all things." In her opening paragraph Miss Verne thus strikes the keynote of this record of a long life devoted to music and the teaching of it.
Her father, mother and immediate ancestors professional musicians, every one of her nine brothers and sisters musically gifted, herself the pupil of Clara Schumann, she writes with justifiable authority on music in general, concert-giving, broad
casting, examinations, and above all ot the romance of teaching.
Frankly and without affectation she tell of the early struggles of her large family their tragedies and their successes.
Miss Verne makes no pretensions n literary "style," but, in a spirit of affec tionate recollection, she recounts innu merable anecdotes of her host of friend and pupils, great and small, past am present, known and unknown. Fron H.R.H. the Duchess of York, whose musi cal education was placed in her hand for many years, to the small boy whc cleaned the brass at her college and who on being invi`:c1 to hear her play at th, Queen's Hall, ejaculated: "What, eight: in the band? And the planner? It 14( give me the 'eadache!"; from the pro foundly venerated Paderewski, to th, anonymous pupil who played "Kirchne in the right hand and Chopin in the left,' she has something interesting, appreciativi or amusing to say of each of them.