Friday, March 29, 2013

A Little PSA

Friends, Vintage Novels readers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Thanks for making the first few years of Vintage Novels such an enjoyable experience. I've really enjoyed providing you all with opinionated reviews and it's been lovely and very instructive hearing back from you all in the comments section, on Facebook, and in person.

Recently, I've been thinking about the possible opportunities for Vintage Novels in the blog-o-sphere, and the upshot is that I've decided to do some renovations and throw out a couple of wings. You'll probably notice some things changing around here over the next few weeks as I alter, tweak, replace, and extend. Then I hope to have some rather exciting new features coming as well. But don't panic--it'll be over soon.

If any of my readers have comments on the blog's layout, things I can do to improve your Vintage Novels experience, or suggestions for the future, I'd love to hear them.

Thanks to all of you.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Young Visiters by Daisy Ashford

I met this book for the first time six weeks ago in an antique shop in Hobart, and I'm amazed that I'd never heard of it till then. This runaway bestseller, written in 1890 and published in 1919, is the bonafide work of a nine-year-old little girl, published when it came to the attention of JM Barrie. The book, with its beguiling unintentional parody of sensational Victorian fiction, became an instant hit; I am advised that writers like CS Lewis and GK Chesterton referred to it in their own works.

The Young Visiters, Or, Mr Salteena's Plan tells the story of Mr Salteena ("an elderly man of 42") and his young friend Ethel Monticue, who go to stay with the brooding yet devout Bernard Clark ( who "always had a few prayers in the hall and some whiskey afterwards as he was rarther pious"). Only one thing blights Mr Salteena's life: he is not quite a gentleman. Bernard recommends that Mr Salteena go to take lessons from Lord Clincham in London, which introduces him to the best society and even culminates in an introduction to the Prince of Wales.
It upsets me said the prince lapping up his strawberry ice all I want is peace and quiut and a little fun and here I am tied down to this life he said taking off his crown being royal has many painfull drawbacks.
 But despite his progress in society, will Mr Salteena's new-found gentility qualify him for Ethel Monticue's hand?

Many readers have enjoyed The Young Visiters for its unintentional commentary on Victorian social mores, to the point of reading much more into it than there really is. To be sure most of the fun of reading this book comes from seeing late Victorian culture from a nine-year-old's perspective--as witness this utterly hilarious passage, when Bernard shows his visitors around the ancestral portrait gallery:
My great uncle Ambrose Fudge said Bernard carelessly.
He looks a thourough ancester said Ethel kindly.
Well he was said Bernard in a proud tone he was really the Sinister son of Queen Victoria.
Not really cried Ethel in excited tones but what does that mean.
Well I dont quite know said Bernard Clark it puzzles me very much but ancesters do turn quear at times.
Peraps it means god son said Mr Salteena in an inteligent voice.
Well I dont think so said Bernard but I mean to find out.
And then there is the scene in which Ethel receives a proposal of marriage, which I am not going to quote at all, because it is much too good to spoil.

According to JM Barrie, in the book's Preface,
The Author
The "owner of the copyright" guarantees that "The Young Visiters" is the unaided effort in fiction of an authoress of nine years. "Effort," however, is an absurd word to use, as you may see by studying the triumphant countenance of the child herself, which is here reproduced as frontispiece to her sublime work.
I also reproduce it in this review, because it Says It All, Really. If you are looking for a classic work of humour, you cannot go wrong with The Young Visiters. But I would particularly recommend it to everyone who is as fond, as little Daisy Ashford so evidently was, of Victorian fiction.

The Young Visiters was filmed for TV in 2003 starring Jim Broadbent as Mr Salteena and Hugh Laurie as Bernard Clark. I have not seen it, but from what I hear it runs with the social-criticism reading of the book. Got to keep an eye on those proto-Marxist nine-year-olds (eyeroll). That said, Hugh Laurie as Bernard Clark...I could be persuaded.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Some Must Watch by Ethel Lina White

Perfect for sleepy drivers.
One of the delightful things about holidaying with friends is the opportunity to snack on their bookshelves. I had the opportunity to read Peter Hitchens's book The Rage Against God with one set of friends, and enjoyed it very much, of course. Then upon our arrival at our second stop, I found my hostess explaining to her mother--

"I only wanted you to sequester it for the night so that I could get some sleep. Not keep it."

As it turned out, the subject of this discussion was Ethel Lina White's 1933 thriller novel, Some Must Watch, and before I left, I got to read it as well.

Helen Cadel is a "lady's help" at a lonely mansion housing Professor Warren, his sister Blanche, his fractious but sinister aunt, his petulant son and vampish daughter-in-law, his student, and his two servants. A serial killer has been murdering young girls in the neighbourhood, and when Helen stays out later than she intended on her walk one afternoon, she senses herself being watched. But in the safety of the mansion, surrounded by people, she feels safer...

Until Lady Warren hints at danger. Until the killer strikes again. Until, one by one and for perfectly good reasons, people begin to leave the house. Outside, the wild weather hints at some threat to the house, but before long Helen begins to wonder if the killer might be inside it.

Some Must Watch is one of those neat, easy, effortlessly capable books which does its job modestly, grips you with crushing suspense, and then retreats to the back of your mind as rather a good little story. It will not change your life. It will not shake your world. It will not give you the question to the answer, "42."

Nevertheless, it is a remarkable example of just how unobtrusive excellent writing, plotting, and characterisation can be. If there's one word to describe this novel, it would be "deft", and skill like this--sketching characters with just a few words, cranking up nail-biting tension--is hard to come by. 

Plus, the book appears to have been written by a Christian. There are a number of jabs at modernity--one character, for example, is described like this:
She was either a beautiful savage, or the last word in modern civilization, demanding self-expression.
The result was, the same--a girl who would do exactly as she chose.
Helen, reared in a convent, hangs a cross over her bed. At dinner, the sophisticated Professor and his family discover this and confront her about it:
"What does it protect you from?" he asked.
"From all evil."
"Then as long as it hung over your bed I suppose you could open your door to the local murderer?" laughed Stephen.
"Of course not," declared Helen, for she stood in no awe of the pupil. "The Cross represents a Power which gave me life. But it gave me faculties to help me to look after that life for myself."
"Why, she believes in Providence, too," said Simone.
Helen's belief that her life is a gift is what gives her such a zest for it. But the lurking killer has decided that her life is not worth living--a prophetic stab at eugenics. And this in 1933, when countries all over the world had their own eugenics programs, and Hitler's doctrine of "life unworthy of life" had not yet been proven a tool for genocide.

With this insight and clarity, Some Must Watch is an excellent read and something rather more than just another well-crafted thriller. I enjoyed it quite a bit, though I don't recommend reading it at night or in an empty house!

Free ebook

As it turns out, this isn't the first brush I've had with Ethel Lina White, who was a popular novelist in her time. Another book, The Wheel Turns, was loosely filmed by Hitchcock as The Lady Vanishes, one of our favourite vintage movies. Some Must Watch was also filmed, as The Spiral Staircase.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton

People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy.
GK Chesterton, that huge and hilarious Christian, wrote two books which might be called, above all his others, masterpieces. One of them is his novel, The Man Who Was Thursday. The other is his apologetic filibuster (if I may use the word): Orthodoxy. I recommended this book to my sister the other day.

“If you’re studying apologetics,” I said, “you should really read Orthodoxy. Shouldn’t she, Justin?”

My brother paused. “If,” he said tentatively, “I could produce a marching band, a fireworks extravaganza, and a troupe of cheerleaders to second that suggestion, I would; but as it is, all I can do is…” and he gave two thumbs up.

Orthodoxy means, loosely translated, “right belief”; and in the book, Chesterton means the Apostle’s Creed by it. The book is, according to Chesterton, “a sort of slovenly biography”; it tells the story of how as a young atheist he tried to found a heresy of his own, “and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy.”

What ensues is a collection of essays building upon a few central themes, all discussing how the young, atheist Chesterton laboriously put together a philosophy, only to find that Christianity had already arrived at the same conclusions with much less fuss and much more certainty.

In “The Maniac”, he discusses the danger of modernist philosophies. Only Christianity is able to provide for mental health; only Christianity provides the romantic riddle which is necessary for real health:
The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.
For reason to do us any good, it must be something more than unaided reason. In “The Suicide of Thought” Chesterton goes on to discuss, in a somewhat presuppositional manner, the weaknesses within all atheist philosophies, the weaknesses which destroy thought itself.

After spending these two chapters on the insanity of modernist atheist thought, Chesterton then switches up a gear for his credo. Chapter 4, “The Ethics of Elfland”, is absolutely stunning. He describes a hunch he developed listening to fairy tales in his nursery: that the humdrum, every day world is in fact as bizarre and fantastic as any fairy tale land. That a chicken should lay an egg is every bit as fantastic as that a goose should lay a golden egg.
The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in the fairy books, "charm," "spell," "enchantment." They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery. A tree grows fruit because it is a magic tree. Water runs downhill because it is bewitched. The sun shines because it is bewitched.
That the world was as unexpectedly beautiful as it was demanded a certain law: one must not open the hidden door, or look upon Cupid in the lamplight, or eat the fruit from the tree in the midst of the garden, if one would remain in paradise. And for this reason, Chesterton says, he was never able to understand the lawlessness of his peers:
Surely one might pay for extraordinary joy in ordinary morals. Oscar Wilde said that sunsets were not valued because we could not pay for sunsets. But Oscar Wilde was wrong; we can pay for sunsets. We can pay for them by not being Oscar Wilde.
Finally, Chesterton says, all that is beautiful in the world seemed desperately precious, as though it had been saved from some primordial ruin. And all this before he had heard the Christian doctrine of the Fall.

The next chapter is titled “The Flag of the World”, and it is Chesterton’s discussion of the Pessimist and the Optimist. Only the Christian is able to believe in the staggering beauty of the world (for was it not made by God?) as well as the comprehensive depravity of it (for had it not fallen from its first state of innocence?).

“The Paradoxes of Christianity” is my second-favourite chapter of this book. It describes the role his atheist reading had in Chesterton’s conversion; the fact that after it had been criticised in one breath for being too timid, and in another breath for being too bloodthirsty; after it had been criticised by Mr A for being hard on women, and by Mr B for offering them a weak-minded comfort, after it had been beaten with every stick, he could not help thinking that perhaps it was the normal and sane thing, and the critics were the ones who were mad. For example, the average pagan finds a balance between arrogance and self-abnegation:
The average pagan, like the average agnostic, would merely say that he was content with himself, but not insolently self-satisfied, that there were many better and many worse, that his deserts were limited, but he would see that he got them. […] Being a mixture of two things, [this moderation] is a dilution of two things; neither is present in its full strength or contributes its full colour. 
Christianity, on the other hand, manages to have both the most flaming pride and the most groveling humility, both at once, and both in the same people:
It separated the two ideas and then exaggerated them both. In one way Man was to be haughtier than he had ever been before; in another way he was to be humbler than he had ever been before. In so far as I am Man I am the chief of creatures. In so far as I am a man I am the chief of sinners.
In fact, this is a pattern for everything in Christianity; that it does not seek a moderation between two extremes, but an equally passionate pursuit of both!
And the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild. […]The optimist could pour out all the praise he liked on the gay music of the march, the golden trumpets, and the purple banners going into battle. But he must not call the fight needless. The pessimist might draw as darkly as he chose the sickening marches or the sanguine wounds. But he must not call the fight hopeless. So it was with all the other moral problems, with pride, with protest, and with compassion. By defining its main doctrine, the Church not only kept seemingly inconsistent things side by side, but, what was more, allowed them to break out in a sort of artistic violence otherwise possible only to anarchists.
This, as Chesterton points out throughout the book, means that Christianity provides freedom. The pagans will not allow you pride or humility; they find it embarrassing if you grovel, and repulsive if you skite. Only Christianity allows for both.
This is the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy. People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad.
In “The Eternal Revolution” Chesterton argues that Christianity is the philosophical prerequisite for progress; because without it, you do not have a pattern for reform; you have no way of saying what things should be. “The Romance of Orthodoxy” moves back to the defensive and shows another side to the impotence of atheist thought: its tendency to smash the world in its scramble to smash God. And finally, “Authority and the Adventurer” argues that Christianity is also the only religion for romance, adventure, and—joy.

Orthodoxy is not a long book, but it is dense; it’s one of those books that should be read slowly, for fear of missing something. It’s certainly difficult to explain, in a short review, all the wonderful side comments Chesterton makes along the way.

Unlike many books of Christian apologetics, there are very few Scripture quotations in Orthodoxy. What it does is provide an atmosphere in which Scripture and orthodox theology can, in fact, take shape as it was meant to in the reader’s mind. It is not so much an argument for the truth of Christianity as it is an argument for the beauty and goodness of Christianity.

It’s also full of sound theological insight. This time through, I was continually reminded of things I had learned from (of all people!) CS Lewis, Greg Bahnsen, Francis Nigel Lee and RJ Rushdoony. I will only take one example: Chesterton sees quite clearly that the Trinity is the only answer to the question of the One and the Many, and that a unitarian god is a tyrant.

One of the reasons why we Chesterton fans rave about him so much is that, unlike most commentators writing a hundred years ago, he had an uncanny knack of spotting the ideas that would still be plaguing modern thought a century later. In Orthodoxy this talent is functioning at full capacity. In “The Maniac” he begins with a demolition of the idea that one must believe in one’s self—an idea served up in every movie theatre and inspirational seminar you care to mention. In “The Suicide of Thought” he deals with postmodernism even before it had a name.

Orthodoxy is a classic; one of Chesterton’s greatest works. If you haven’t read it—read it.

John Piper on Orthodoxy

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Psmith, Journalist by PG Wodehouse

Rupert Psmith (the P is silent, as in pthisis and ptarmigan) has been my favourite Wodehouse character ever psince I made his acquaintance in Leave It to Psmith, one of Wodehouse’s masterpieces. Sadly, Wodehouse felt he’d done as much as he could with the character and went on to focus on Bertie Wooster, Lord Emsworth, and the rest. And the earlier Psmith novels, like Psmith in the City or Mike and Psmith, had not yet attained the lofty heights of Leave It to Psmith.

But recently I had the opportunity of reading a really good one. Psmith Journalist sees Psmith holidaying in New York City, where he meets a Wild West journalist, Billy Windsor, chafing silently in the undereditorship of a cozy little paper for cozy little families. With the Editor away on a rest cure, Psmith entices Windsor to leap into a little psensational journalism.
Cozy Moments Cannot Be Muzzled. 
 Before you can say “psychology” Psmith and Windsor are neck-deep on the hit list of an unpscrupulous real estate magnate and playing a dangerous game among the rival street gangs of New York.

This book was extraordinarily fun. Wodehouse didn’t usually show much of a psocial conscience, but this book deals rather passionately with high-rise slum housing. Then, Wodehouse also didn’t usually include thriller elements, but his deft plotting skills—later limited to aunts and butlers—work just as brilliantly on gangsters and hit men.

Through this two-fisted tale of the New York lowlife walks the dandified figure of Rupert Psmith, quoting Pshakespeare and Latin tags, and occasionally needing an interpreter:
A voice from the room called up to Psmith.
"You have our ear," said Psmith.
"What's that?"
"I said you had our ear."
"Are youse stiffs comin' down off out of dat roof?"
"Would you mind repeating that remark?"
"Are youse guys goin' to quit off out of dat roof?"
"Your grammar is perfectly beastly," said Psmith severely. 
 Psmith Journalist is a Wodehouse with a difference. Highly enjoyable and well worth reading.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Ball and the Cross by GK Chesterton

Chesterton’s novels almost stand in a genre of their own. Heavily philosophical, wildly allegorical, unapologetically adventurous, and comically surreal, it can be difficult even to describe them. And of them all, perhaps The Ball and the Cross is the most peculiar; which might be to say the worst, if you could even use a superlative negative in a sentence about Chesterton’s works. At least it does not operate on the same level of high genius as The Man Who Was Thursday. But what there is of it is unforgettable.

The book begins when Professor Lucifer tosses the aged monk Michael, with whom he has been arguing, out of his airship. Clinging to the cross at the pinnacle of St Paul’s Cathedral, Michael only just manages to save himself, and receives an epiphany of the goodness of God which enables him to enjoy even the squareness of tiles in a lunatic asylum “with a plain, jolly appetite as of a boy eating buns.” Meanwhile MacIan, a young Highlander meeting civilisation for the very first time, outraged by some low assertions about the Virgin Mary as displayed in the window of a small atheist newspaper, smashes the window and is dragged before the magistrate, where he challenges the middle-aged but truculent editor, Turnbull, to a duel. To his surprise, Turnbull accepts—but to both their surprise, the main enemy they must overcome is not each other, but the moral outrage of a world which no longer believes in fighting for what you believe in!

The adventures of the Catholic and the Atheist take them to many strange places in somewhat odd disguises. They meet a representative of Tolstoy, and one of Nietzche (named Wimpey, of course), who adores a South Sea idol in the garden—
“Excuse me,” he said with an irradiation of smiles, but yet with a kind of bewilderment. “So sorry…family prayers…old fashioned…mother’s knee.” 
They flee the police by hansom-cab, foot, motor-car, and yacht. They fight in France. They fight on the beaches. They masquerade as a dissolute count (MacIan) and a devout Frenchman (Turnbull), but their thick Scottish accents and moral inability to live up to their supposed characters give them away. They are bound by a thousand honorable obligations to fight—but whether it’s their own natural inclination to like each other very much, or the interference of authorities who will go to literally any lengths to prevent their duel and lock them away from human knowledge, something keeps getting in the way until the final confrontation with the sinister Professor Lucifer.

There’s so very much to like in this book. Chesterton’s wit is operating on all eight cylinders here, and his painterly descriptions of the colours of the sky throughout this book are unusually bright and glowing—which makes the book in retrospect seem like a riot of sunsets. Then there’s the simple fun of watching the worldly Turnbull and the serious MacIan interact. As they flee the police on foot:
“Are you all right?” said Turnbull, with civility. “Can you keep this up?”
“Quite easily, thank you,” replied MacIan. “I run very well.”
“Is that a qualification in a family of warriors?” asked Turnbull.
 “Undoubtedly. Rapid movement is essential,” answered MacIan, who never saw a joke in his life. 
As usual with a GK Chesterton book, the themes are well worth tucking into, although in this one they are somewhat less hidden than otherwise. Fans of Orthodoxy will be enchanted to find in this book something like the novel he teased in that one—in which a man sails to a desert island, only to find—but if you remember the place in Orthodoxy, you’ll know what I’m talking about; and if you don’t, I shouldn’t spoil it.

One major theme of the book concerns mental illness in the modernist age. There is the scorching insight that madness can become a convenient excuse for the state to lock up perfectly sane and inconvenient people on ideological grounds. There is the uncomfortable fact that humane imprisonment is generally the worst thing a human can be called upon to endure, and the more humane, the worse. And there is also the sly parody of modern psychology, which upon seeing a man who insists that he has lost his yacht, instead of asking how and when, simply diagnoses him with Perdinavititis--“mental inflammation creating the impression that one has lost a ship”; and even worse, diagnoses the actual culprit, upon confession of the crime, as suffering from Rapinavititis—a disorder suffered by those who pinch ships.

But my favourite thing in The Ball and the Cross is something that I’ve remembered very clearly since the first time I read it. MacIan is tempted by an angelic figure who shows him a glorious eschatological vision of a London to which the true king has returned. St Paul’s shows a triumphant cross upon the dome, ringed by a triple crown of swords. Knights, not policemen, patrol the streets. But then, at the crossing of a road, an old man stumbles and one of the knights strikes him, not hard, across the shoulders:
“The soldier had no business to do that,” said MacIan, sharply. “The old man was moving as quickly as he could.”
“We attach great importance to discipline in the streets,” said the main in white, with a slight smile.
“Discipline is not so important as justice,” said MacIan. 
 But the man in white doesn’t let it drop…
“Just as the sight of sin offends God,” said the unknown, “so does the sight of ugliness offend Apollo. The beautiful and princely must, of necessity, be impatient with the squalid and—“
“Why, you great fool!” cried MacIan, rising to the top of his tremendous stature, “did you think I would have doubted only for that rap with a sword? I know that noble orders have had bad knights, that good knights have bad tempers, that the Church has rough priests and coarse cardinals; I have known it ever since I was born. You fool! you had only to say, ‘Yes, it is rather a shame,’ and I should have forgotten the affair. But I saw on your mouth the twitch of your infernal sophistry; I knew that something was wrong with you and your cathedrals. Something is wrong; everything is wrong. You are not an angel. That is not a church. It is not the rightful king who has come home.” 
Chesterton’s larger point might be that the vision of MacIan is not the truth—though I’m not sure. But for years I’ve chewed over this smaller point—that good knights can have bad tempers. This is the real thing behind that tired old complacency, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” And it is the sane and healthy response to the inevitable disconnect between high ideals and standards, and the fallen people who are called to live up to them. Some might brush away the ideals—errare humanum est, Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven. Some, like the infernal angel of MacIan’s vision, might explain away the sin—discipline is more important than justice; proper pride is better than humble mercy. But if we’re Christians, we can’t afford to ignore either the awful necessity of the law and the ideals, or our utter inability to live up to them.

But in the end, even human sin isn’t enough to prevent redemption.

I loved The Ball and the Cross just as much this time around, and recommend it to anyone interested in Chesterton.

Gutenberg etext
Librivox recording

Friday, March 1, 2013

The People of the Mist by H Rider Haggard

I am always ready to read a Haggard book, but there’s a reason why this one in particular caught my attention. I was browsing Ebay at one point, wondering if there were any reasonably-priced Haggards around, when I stumbled upon this remarkable ad, which I reproduce in the original formatting.


A superb tale of a British treasure hunter 

in the wilds of the Dark Continent 

seeking his fortune and instead 

discovering romance (scantily clad naturally),

lost races and malignant local deities 

who are not fond of intruding square 

jawed stiff upper lipped types 

This almost Molesworthian prĂ©cis is, I’m glad to say, pretty much correct (although I didn’t notice the romance being scantily clad). Our story opens as the broodingly handsome Leonard Outram and his brother Tom lose their family home and family honour. They make an oath to win it back, and go off to Africa in search of their fortunes. Seven years later, after the death of his brother, our hero is no closer to his goal. But then, one dark and stormy night, a malevolent crone from the bush begs their help. Her mistress Juana has been kidnapped by slave traders along with the rest of the settlement’s people. If Leonard and his servant Otter will extricate the damsel from her distress, promises Soa, she will lead them to the lost city of the People of the Mist, and to their fabulous wealth.

Leonard agrees, and he, Otter, Juana, and the scheming Soa set out on the adventure of a lifetime, rounded off by a daring masquerade, a giant crocodile, last-minute escapes, human sacrifice, villainous high priests, and a flurry of melodramatic romance.

All Haggard’s books tend to be great fun, and this is certainly one of them. It’s not one of my favourites, like Nada the Lily or The Brethren, as it comes down rather on the light-hearted end of the scale—yet without being as silly as Queen Sheba’s Ring. Generally, it’s a serviceable and unabashed adventure story for those of us who like that kind of thing.

As usual, Haggard’s worldview is just a little bit off. One paragraph in particular reminded me of something I’d read in Rushdoony’s Biblical Philosophy of History—Leonard muses:
“Our father was our first enemy; he brought us into the world, neglected us, squandered our patrimony, dishonoured our name, and shot himself. And since then what has it been but one continual fight against men and nature? Even the rocks in which I dig for gold are foes—victorious foes—" and he glanced at his hands, scarred and made unshapely by labour. "And the fever, that is a foe.” 
In the Biblical worldview, says Rushdoony, humans are subject to God, and made rulers over nature. But in the humanist worldview, an attempt is made to dethrone God and put him under man. His point was that this inevitably results in nature becoming man’s master; the theory of behavioural psychology is an obvious example.

Yet, in the end, The People of the Mist seems to come down on the side of Providence, not materialist determinism. Leonard and his allies do succeed in triumphing over Nature at the end; yet it’s not his own efforts, but an unforeseen Providence that brings about the happy ending.

Still, this is the kind of book that would be spoiled by rigorous analysis! I read it on holiday, with a great deal of enjoyment. A solid Haggard.

Gutenberg etext


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