tir Neville Braybrooh
CHRISTOPHER FRY, by Derek Stanford (Longmans. 2s.).
GOOD criticism should always
provide a midget anthology of its subject's best lines. Mr. Stanford follows this precept. and his study of Christopher Fry abounds with
carefully selected quotations. For really. text is a kind of corn
m' Everyone's heart is a great eccentric." Every writer, too. has something ecoeetric, precious and unique to communicate. and Mr. Stanford keeps well away from the traps of " group" judgments or generalisations about the drama. Not does he pun about " big fry and little fry " in the facetious manner of Ivor Brown.
Instead the plays are seen as seasonal-Venus Observed is obviously autumnal-and from this cyclical pattern Mr. Stanford goes on to illustrate how each in a different way throws light on " the mystery of being." If this phrase is hackneyed. then perhaps it is only in the sense that a hot .August sun . or an April rainbow may also be said to be hackneyed.
For this is where uniqueness of vision comes in, since this dramatist, like his present criticor for that matter any writer worth his salt, takes nothing for granted, remembering that " everything is a gift "life being the most precious of all.
Of The Firstborn. Fry's only tragedy to date. Mr. Stanford writes particularly well, stressing the careful and dramatic use of ambiguity. A passage is cited in which Moses speaks of
. . the God of the Hebrews, springing out Of unknown ambush. a vigour moving
In a great shadow. . . "
Mr. Stanford does not say whether that " ambush " for the modern poet is also the " burning hush of the psalmist, but it is precisely thoughts such as these that good criticism should provoke. Certainly, in this pamphlet, there is no lack of them.