their real purpose. As before, his book is full of exotic words, exotic women, and exotic drinks, of transatlantic steamers and twenty-story buildings; but now all these are only empty formulas, and each bears an appalling resemblance to the other. The metaphors and comparisons are the same as in Ouvert la nuit, but they irritate rather than gratify. From the second page onward the reader is wise to the way they are manufactured. The trick is to connect in a single sentence two seemingly irreconcilable ideas - mysticism and cocktails, God and the Foreign Legion. In point of fact, curiosity and mental laziness are all that Paul Morand has actually succeeded in reconciling in his new book. The wide-awake observer looks through American newspapers and Chinese bills of fare, and the writer is too indolent to produce a worth-while book, following the same path of least resistance that the reporter pursues.

Both Montherlant and Morand found their style too quickly; but Montherlant has kept his, while Morand's has become a mere artistic convention. When such a thing happens to a great artist, he usually retraces his steps. Lesser artists, who treat their trade conscientiously, never exceed the limits of conventionality — and André Maurois is one of those.

Frédéric Lefèvre announces a book of conversations with André Maurois, whose fame is confined chiefly to the French intellectuals. But while his reputation was deserved, this book has no valid raison d'être. Maurois should not go in for an Eckermann of his own.

For Maurois is one of those who do not create literature, but live on the goods accumulated by their predecessors. Not that he is an imitator, but rather that special variety of literary creator who thrives on the lives of bygone great writers and their heroes.

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The last novel by Blaise Cendrars, entitled Moravagine, is written in the first person, and stands somewhat apart. The author, a psychiatrist, meets Moravagine in an insane asylum and helps him to escape. Together they go to Russia, where they organize a terrorist unit with the aim of killing the Tsar. The idea of this organization resembles that of Dostoevskii's The Possessed, but Cendrars's irony is far more apparent. Thanks to Moravagine, a great and disinterested agent provocateur, the attempt on the Tsar's life is unsuccessful. The alienist and his insane friend flee from Russia, wander through Europe and America, and finally settle in France. After the war the alienist accidentally finds his friend once more in an insane asylum. The lunatic does not, however, recognize him, and soon dies.

Cendrars describes people and events in a greatly exaggerated manner. Verisimilitude, or the picturing of everyday life, does not concern him. He, for one, cannot be accused of being a reporter rather than a writer. He describes a series of imaginary events which are artistically true, and the Russian adventures of his heroes are not so much grotesque as gruesome.

Moravagine belongs to the numerous family of novels descended from Voltaire's Candide. It also has traits in

common with Julio Jurenito. It is full of destructive irony; Cendrars wants to destroy all the values, and he renounces love, thought, and art one after the other. It is with reason that the novel opens and closes in a lunatic asylum.

But such work carries its own punishment. Art, it seems, cannot thrive on mere denial. The book has no vitality; it is lifeless, stillborn. The reader's impressions cease the minute he has read the last sentence. Each book must have a raison d'être, and Moravagine has none. Its author, too, has struck his blind alley. Having denied importance to life and thought, all he can logically do is to break with


Strangely enough, the two best novels of the season have been written by novices amateurs, one may say. Why? It would be ridiculous to assert that the young French authors have all gone into a decline, though many are tired of the fame that came too soon for some and too noisily for others. Fame obliges; it binds an artist to reproducing the particular style which gained him celebrity. Thus Morand invented a language of his own and became its slave. Much courage and artistic honesty are needed to renovate one's self before the eyes of the world, but unless that is done there is no way out a fact that several young French novelists have recently experienced. For it seems there are epidemics in art too. A writer must change his skin from the inside it is futile to describe new sports and out-of-the-way countries. Perhaps Giraudoux has the best system reverting to his primeval source, the man.

However that may be, neither Georges Bernanos, who wrote Sous le

soleil de Satan, nor Georges Grappe, author of Une Soirée à Cordoue, has had a place until now among professional novelists. The former has never been much concerned with literature. The latter has been known as a connoisseur of painting and letters: he has written some fifteen volumes, dedicated to Fragonard, Monet, Degas, and others, as well as A Sketch of English Poetry in the Nineteenth Century and studies of Stevenson and La Rochefoucauld. Though he ought not to be a novice with the pen, his novel would give the impression that he was one.

The plot of An Evening at Cordova is very simple, and Grappe has tackled it as a novice would a novice brought up on poor literary stuff. The language is conventionally literary, the book has a pseudo-poetic hue. You meet every threadbare metaphor and figure of speech. Yet, as you read on, the irritating impression wears away and the novel begins to please. Grappe has a gift for sketching tragic masks and tragic events in a suitable and laconic style. This man, who cannot write a page free from clichés, has succeeded in constructing a novel peopled with living beings and full of genuine tragic conflict. Weak as it is æsthetically, -as, for instance, where the Cordova sights are described, — psychologically it stands firmly on its own feet. Grappe does not analyze his heroes' acts or seek the ultimate reasons for their conduct, which he describes almost without comment; he simply makes even improbable situations seem real and plausible.

Is it possible that An Evening at Cordova was a chance success? We may have occasion to judge of that later, if the author does not abandon his whim for belles-lettres.



[Morning Post]

POPPIES, ye flaming blushes of July,

Why do ye bloom again in dark November?
Dream-laden poppies, flowers of sleep, ah why
Must ye now bid oblivion to remember?
Long months and months ago

You shed your careless petals in the corn,
Or fell when reeking horses to and fro
Dragged the great reaper till the fields were shorn;
And now, ah now ye blow,

As in a dying fire a glowing ember,
To make our chilly winter more forlorn.

"T is not of English autumns that ye tell,
Poppies of Flanders! No, your beauty brings
Memories of other golden heads that fell
In other fields to other harvestings;
When the dark horseman reaped

Sheaves not of corn, fields not with poppies red,
Soil not in your oblivious juices steeped,
When English lives like falling leaves were shed,
And youth and valor heaped

Like shocks of corn upon the harvest wain,
That from his fork the sunburnt reaper flings-
Countless as the innumerable grain.

O dread and terrible harvesting of war!
Harrow and plough and sickle all in one,
Untimely waste that husbandmen abhor,
Green crops uprooted ere they feel the sun,
Untimely scythes that tear

And rend the unripened growth of tender spring,
Fields rent asunder by the cleaving share,
And harrowed with a dreadful harrowing,
Until the rock lies bare;

A generation ended ere begun,

Corn cut before the larks have time to sing!

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So after the triumph at Rome, when a hundred thousand Fascisti acclaimed the Duce, and after the mobilization at Bologna, just when Mussolini was departing for his capital in a tumult of official joy a child of fifteen, pushing his way through the crowd, shot at the Dictator.

A child fifteen years old! You have been struck by the fact, have n't you? But how old, then, was Charlotte Corday?

Vengeance from the hands of a child! Why, under the heavens, did this bambino silently plan such a deed? How long did he premeditate it? What drove him to do what he did?

I cannot answer these questions with certainty; but I can guess. So it happened that when I was reading in the Roman press an account of this 'bar

1 From the Lyon Républicain (Lyon Democratic daily)

VOL. 352- NO. 4297

barous exploit' my mind began to search for the motives that inspired it. A boy may kill a playmate accidentally; he might, if he were a degenerate, murder an old man to get cakes or candies. But it is quite another thing to worm your way through a crowd with a revolver in your pocket and to fire coolly at a minister of State. It takes an altogether different kind of courage to kill a powerful ruler knowing that you will certainly suffer immediate punishment - from that needed to kill a man secretly on the street in the dark.

Is the press, our greatest suggester of crime, as they say, responsible? Not in this case, for the press of Italy is unable to publish anything that is not laudatory of the present Government and its chief. Well then, why?

Why? Here is the story. I should have been glad to tell it to you before the attempt. After the attempt its lesson becomes even more formidable.

Some twenty kilometres from Bologna, and virtually a suburb of the city where this fifteen-year-old boy tried to kill the Premier, is a little town of eighteen thousand people, called Molinella. Five years ago the citizens of that town were anti-Fascist to a man. They were divided into two great Parties, which are now united the Christian Democrats and the Socialists. Not a ballot was cast for


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