Unaware of Realities
Captain Smith at, d C unipany. By Robert Henriques. (Heinemann, 7s. 6d.) 0, the Brave Music. By Dorothy Evelyn Smith. (Dakers, 9s. 6d.) Submarine. By Ale. Hudson. (Nichol. son and Watson, 5s.) Enjoy Such Liberty. By Murray Latham. (Hutchinson, 9s.) Reviewed by FRANCIS BURDETT CAPTAIN Smith and Company must make an impression on any but the dullest reader. To many it will seem admirable, for it paints a picture of patriotism as many understand it; others will find its vagueness and general conception of human life unendurable. The author, now a Lieutenant-Colonel, endeavours to draw beauty out of something as ugly as modern, mechanised war.
Captain Smith, symbolic of all officers, and his company, symbolic of all soldiers, is killed whilst raiding the enemy coast. The Captain, as he lay dying, =views his experiences as a soldier These memories and reflections are put within reach of the reader through " the media of poetry, verse, metrical prose and ' straight' prose."
As a literary effort. it is impressive and very ekilful; but it remains a literary effort. conscious. even self-conscious. The substance of the book is divided into short episodic and desciipfive passages. The Mountain and the Night evokes the " concentration of anguish" experienced in a night march. "Exhaustion, pain, despair, battered at resolution." The Nightmare of the Trumpet evokes the conception of a Captain: " But I. Smith the Captain. though I share the common nand, retain an independent thought by the virtue of ray appointment and the strength of my cornmarrd, I, the local God, know the full suffering hut have risen above it. That is the theory. . . I must understand how we. the voluntary slaves. display in proud anger and in angry contempt the tokens of our servitude, the scrubbed and polished shackles. the whitened bonds, the few tawdry coins, the volume of our /ow." Discipline is rooted in the fact, symbolised by the voice of the trumpet:
Sadness and separation, Your stories sorrowful, Cannot concern the nation Whose verdant soul, whose stern tomorrow Require your tear to-day.
And so we arc taken through the miseries of war (with the notable exception of loss of reason). the strength of discipline the ideal of patriotism. It is an effort to win something from so dark and confused, so incoherent and half-understood, so confusing in purpose a thing as modern war.
But can so unspiritual, in the oldfashioned sense, a conception -ally help? Men are accepted as they are and left as they are. In a sense it is shocking that Captain Smith, at the point of death, should be so utterly tied to earth, so unaware of the realities he is about to face.
J. the Brave Music is better written than the tide might lead on to think. It is the talc of a child's life as the child saw it. The telling is better than any child could achieve.
RUall 35,1S the accond daughter of a Nonconformist minister and his beautiful wife. They were an ill-assorted couple. She had known the wan Id and enjoyed it; he was narrow, kindly and fanatical. The mother's sudden flight from her husband let light into the children's lives They left the hated Board School and went to.an unknown
uncle. their mother's brother. Sylvia. the elder sister, finds her feet in her own way and Ruan is left to dream as she wills in the beautiful, impoverished house. David. a companion from childhood, remained a friend and became an ideal. There is chatin and peacefulness in this book and a complete absence of war.
R. Hudson, in Submarine, has written six crisp, business-like and striking stories about life in an American submarine. We see it from various angles. The excitement of action, the strain of monotonous and uneventful duties, the resourcefulness that can use a submarine for unusual duties. It is good to learn something of the frightful risks taken by the crews from a sober and able writer.
Ithere is not much subtlety in Enjoy
Such Liberty there is considerable incident and colour. Martin 13iddlestone, irresponsible and violent in temper, after several unforgivable episodes
finds himself in a fix. He sought to rehabilitate himself. even more in his own eyes than in those of others, The process led him into a German concentration camp, before the present war, in an attempt to save a professor who had discovered a formula nullifying poison gas. He goes as a prisoner to the camp and after horrible experiences there escapes with the professes and, finally, makes good.
Pastor Angelicas, the filne of the life of the present Pope, will be first shown in Hungary on the feast of St. Stephen. As Papal Nuncio, thc Pope had been in Budapest several times, and the film shows these episodes.