Rene Hague — a Personal Memoir by Barbara Wall (Aylesford Press, £9.95) Servile Labour and Contemplation by Eric Gill (Aylesford Press, £15.95) Anthony Gynn THE Aylesford Press, tucked away on the Wirral peninsula, continues its tradition of producing delightful collectable books with a strong "Catholic" interest. To its lists arc now added a memoir of Rene Hague and a recently discovered essay by Eric Gill.
Both volumes display not only the quality of production one has come to expect from this publishing house, but also the discernment of selection of topic which has much to do with, amongst others, the editorial mind of Fr Brocard Sewell.
Fr Sewell has an interest in what one could call the Chesterton/ Belloc era, which naturally led hint on to Erie Gill and his son-in-law Rene Hague. Gill and Hague established at Pigotts ("One g, correctly, in
Pigotts pronounced Pickens by the locals, and spelt on old maps Pycotts") in Oxfordshire what could only he described as a rural, Catholic Bloomsbury. Its ambience was simple, yet rich; simple in the sense of wood being chopped, water being fetched, bread being baked; rich in the sense of art, conversation, erudition, translation, love and a chapel en suite.
Fine, enquiring Catholic minds were attracted to Pigotts, and the ideas were even more potent than the home-made wine or the numerous cigarettes.
How does the reputation of Eric Gill stand since the disclosures concerning "his sexual antinomianism" in Fiona MacCarthy's recent biography? This point tinds Fr Sewell at his most charitable in this foreword to Gill's essay and on close analysis at his most diplomatic. The stone-carver of Broadcasting House and the Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral will never be the ' same again. however, certainly to those to whom his name means anything at all now. And that point was implicitly conceded by Fr Sewell at the beginning of his foreword.
So who was Rene Hague, I hear you ask'? Well history will record hitn as the man who gave the English reader the works of Teilhard de Chardin in superb translation. Barbara Wall's charming Memoir, containing many personal letters, depicts a gentle, loving man who wore his scholarship lightly and whose comments about the postVatican II Church will sound many an echo in the hearts of Tridentine Catholics — and some extremely funny too!!
Rene and his wife, Joan, Eric Gill's daughter, spent their last years in Ireland, and even there suffered the aches and pains of the "reformed" Church.
Beautiful books, thoughtprovoking content, Few pages could there be a better stocking filler for a pre-Conciliar aunt or uncle?