IF there are "sermons in stones and hooks in the running brooks," there are sometimes extraordinarily important lessons to be learnt from the lightest and least pretentious of hooks.
Miss Angela du Maurier, tired of being treated as only the sister " of stet-novelist Daphne. decided to tell her story also inIrs Only the Sister (Peter Davies, 12s. 6d.).
If Angela's novels have not attained the success of Daphne's, this autobiography deserves to do so. as it is written thioughout with the lightest of touch and the greatest Possible
charm and spontaneity. And any daughter of Gerald du Maurier must have a story to tell of the gay theatrical and eocial world of the period just before and after the first World War.
Angela herself, who has never married, had a shot at the stage, playing Wendy in " Peter Pan," not without danger to life and limb, but, apart from her writing, she was destined to he an observer of life, of rnen and women, of dogs. rather than a celebrity in it on her own account,
Gladys Cooper. Edgar Wallace, Barrie, Ivor Novelle). and dozens of others play their parts in the book as friends and personalities. What better than the story of Barrie watching the dress rehearsal of " The Ringer "?
"What impresses me most," said Barrie to the aghast Edgar Wallace after watching it, " is the original and skilful way you take the audience into your confidence so that flies, know from the start who the criminal is: and yet the excitement is sustained through the play!"
Barrie claimed to be able to tell the criminal in any thriller from the chair in which he first sat.
But the story which I shall remember from this book is Angela's own, when she tells how a group of schoolgirls started talking about e the facts of life." and thus initiated her into the truth.
"I had been told lies from the beginning. And why? Why. 1 asked myself. should my father and mother lie. I knew the answer, or thought I did. It was because the truth was so horrible that they couldn't bear to tell it to me."
She was threatened with expulsion and evidently for a time menlane' maimed about the whole 111 a tier.
That story, told as it is here: is a real classic of the possible consequences of parental cowardice. prudery and false romanticism, if not religion, on this difficult question. The hook is worth reading, if only to have that embedded into one,
MR. Edmund Wilson, the American critic who substituted Freud for the Moral Order in his deliberations, tells us in an introduction to The Beast of the Haitian Hills, by The tvfarcelins (Gollancz, 95. 6d.) that it throws a " good deal of light on the situation of any social group in relation to its religion." Mr. Victor Gollancz. the publisher, adds that it has "a deep understanding of the often pathetic struggle in peasant minds between a recently acquired Catholic faith
and the profound fear of offending tribal gods."
Without impugning the sincerity of Mr. Gollancz's opinion, one firmly disagrees. This book by two Americanised Haitian brothers is in essence the story of an urban mulatto who, having abused his wife in various commonplace ways, develops a guiltcomplex when she dies in childbirth.
He leaves the town for a farm in the Voodoo coun try. There, surrounded by superstitious natives (who have not even begun to be Catholics) the townsman offends against tribal gods, and the local boss, a sort of Tammany exploiter of evil spirits, unleashes upon him the Cigouave, a devilish beast that attacks and maims its victims in a manner significant to followers of the more lurid, and minor, aspects of the work of Freud.
Very cleverly, manifestations of superstition are fitted or created neatly into.the patterns of Freudianism.
The consequence. despite Mr. Wilson's pretentious overture, is like one of the horror films Hollywood inflicted upon us as " secondfeatures " in the 'thirties.
The basic weakness of the book, in contrast to what Mr. Gollancz either wrote or approved, is that there is no real conflict. The beast wins, as it were, claws up and down.
By 1 It 0. Dunlop, R.A., whose attrac tive palette-knife painted oils are to he seen at many important exhibitions, is fully em to date with the motto. "Take the Plunge-and-Paint," which is the key-note to Painting for Pleasure (Phoenix House, 8s. (id.).
But 1 am not sure that the professional painter of eminence is necessarily the best guide for the middleaged man who decides to equip himself with paints and then see what happens. An hour's conversation with someone who has tried it with reasonable success is the best introduction.
After that, it is the fun of experimenting without special tuition, except for long hours of careful observation in the art galleries of classical and modern art.
Dunlop. for example. though admitting the special difficulty of water colours (which have ruined, surely thousands of would-be painters), follows the had old tradition of water colours, then oils with pastels thrown in.
The "Bowl of Anemones", frontispiece to his book, with its lusciously laid-on paint and charming colouring. is quite enough alone to tempt the man with the feel of paint, brush and knife in his fingers to "have a go" at once.
I am riot sure but that the prescription (after an hour's technical talk) "copy that Dunlop" would not be the best start possible.
GOTHIC Ivories, by Joseph
Natanson (Tiranti, 7s. 6d.) is refreshingly free from the subjective approach to art so popular nowadays.
The author has wisely left the emotional side to the 64 plates and to that underrated thing the reader's sensibility. The little introduction is merely an outline of the history of ivory-carving in the Middle Ages.
It treats a subject that Koechlin could discuss in three volumes, with the clarity of a text-book, showing the advance from the early crowded reliefs to the noble climax in the 1400's and on to the decline later in that century.
The variety of the photographs makes up for this simplicity, and a sound bibliography is given.
The reader will find in this minor art a good parallel to the development of monumental Gothic sculpture. unspoilt by the effects of weather and even permeated by that world of human love and chivalry
that lay behind medieval Christianity.
THE third revised edition of Ernest Short's A History of Religious Architecture (Eyre and Spottiswoode, 30s.) misses a chance which so many reprints nowadays miss: it fails to bring the book up to date.
Since 1925, when it was first published, interest in contemporary religious architecture has greatly increased, and all kinds of attempts to apply it to present needs and aesthetic standards have been made.
An additional chapter, bringing us beyond the already very cursory treatment of Westminster or Liverpool Cathedrals in this country and affording some general notion of the principles at work today, would have made all the difference to the book.
HUMANITY and Happiness, by
George Brochmann (Gollancz, 14s.), has an introduction by Mr. Lewis Mumford and is a philosophical essay written by a Norwegian author during the days when the Nazis occupied his country.
It examines all aspects of human happiness and the problems that state implies, in an individual way.
M. Pierre Emmanuels The Universal Singular (Grey Walls Press, 13s, (id.) is another book of this type. from a French poet.