Reader's Choice

The world has formed its image of the British officer type from the rigid, good form of a Kitchener and the fatuous conventionality of Colonel Blimp. But the brilliant eccentric and the nonconformist fired by faith — a Cromwell, a“ Chinese” Gordon, a Lawrence of Arabia — has played a conspicuous part in British military history. One of the most singular members of this species was MajorGeneral Orde Wingate (1903-1944), who was killed in an air crash in Burma when his fame was at its height. The British press had dubbed him, successively, the Lawrence of Judea, of Ethiopia, and of Burma, and Churchill eulogized him as “a man of genius who might well have become also a man of destiny.” Wingate’s Burma campaigns have been recorded in several books (one of them by this reviewer), but CHRISTOPHER SYKES’S ORDE WINGATE (World, $6.00) is the first fulldress account of his life buttressed by access to the family papers and the relevant military records. While it may be overly detailed for the impatient reader, it is a biography worthy of the extraordinary man who is its subject.
Wingate came of a family of soldiers and evangelistic ministers. His parents, Plymouth Brethren, gave him a strict Puritan upbringing, and the Bible, especially the Old Testament, remained his favorite reading and governed his moral outlook. Although he was conventionally trained as a gunner at Woolwich, there was much of the biblical prophet in his make-up: a harsh strength and fierce idealist dedication; a conviction that the right was on his side; a volcanic rage against the tyranny, which seemed to him ubiquitous, of the conventional mind, the “ military ape”; and great personal magnetism.
In his school days, Wingate did poorly and suffered from an unfounded sense of persecution. But even in his youth he felt destined to be the instrument of some great cause, and he found it when he was posted to Palestine in 1936. Thereafter he was a fanatical Zionist, an attachment he explained in terms of faith in the Bible and a sense of identity with a persecuted but everresurgent people. In pre-war Palestine, Wingate organized the “Special Night Squads,” composed of Jewish volunteers and a few British regulars, which proved to be the first effective answer to the guerrilla tactics of the Arab terrorists. Wingate’s ambition — and it remained the central passion of his life — was to be the leader of a Jewish army, and he threw himself into the struggle for its creation with an indiscretion so flagrant that he was removed from Palestine and never allowed to serve there again.
In 1940-1941, Wingate achieved spectacular successes as commander of the patriot uprising in Ethiopia. After the campaign, he turned in a report which could have cost him a court-martial for insubordination, and, brooding over his grievances, he attempted suicide. Just when his career seemed ruined, General Wavell summoned him to India to organize “ irregular activities” against the Japanese. The result was the first Chindit expedition — supplied solely from the air — which so impressed Churchill that he took Wingate to the Quebec conference, where he was placed in charge of the“ Long Range Penetration Group” that established itself in northern Burma in 1944.
Wingate’s detractors claim that he was crazy and that his Burma operations were of no real military value. Mr. Sykes’s painstakingly documented and clear-eyed biography shows that this is an unjust estimate with an element of truth. The Chindit expeditions served no strategic objective, but they misled the Japanese into making grave blunders, and the success of Wingate’s ideas about jungle warfare brought about a general reform of British methods. He proved himself both an imaginative innovator and a hardheaded realist — an inspired leader of unorthodox enterprise. As a man, he was certainly to some extent unbalanced. His eccentricities (strapping an alarm clock to his wrist, munching raw onions, receiving military visitors naked) point to a compulsion to flaunt his sense of being “different.” He was infuriatingly rude and contentious, and he had an obvious persecution complex. But his life and achievements also testify abundantly to a gigantic force of character, which won him the enthusiastic backing of men like Wavell, Amery, and Churchill.
This month Edward Weeks is traveling in the Soviet Union with a group of writers and editors who have been seat by oar State Department as part of its cultural exchange program. “The Peripatetic Reviewer" will be back in the November ATLANTIC.
Complex figures like Wingate and Lawrence, who have become the heroes of romantic legend, pose a formidable challenge to the serious biographer. Mr. Sykes has emerged from it with a portrait more persuasively balanced than any that the biographers of Lawrence succeeded in achieving.

THE SOURCES OF A MASTERPIECE

PROUST: THE EARLY YEARS (Atlantic-Little, Brown, $6.50) by GEORGE D. PAINTER, a curator of the British Museum, is the first part of a twovolume work, ten years in the making, which is intended to be a definitive biography. In the preface, Mr. Painter makes the following claims and assertions: First, Proust’s life “ has never yet been treated with anything approaching scholarly method . . . nine tenths of the narrative here given is new to Proustian biography.” Second, Proust’s picture of heterosexual love is not simply a transposition of his homosexual feelings. This is “one among very many unrealized biographical facts about Proust.” Third, the evidence assembled in this biography that Proust’s novel is “ based entirely on his own experiences” leads to the discovery that the novel was meant to be the “symbolic story” of his life.
Now Mr. Painter’s book is, unquestionably, a master stroke of enterprising and industrious research, a biography of great originality. But there is a distasteful element of boasting and even misrepresentation in the preface from which I have just quoted. “Nine tenths new” is an exaggeration. Proust’s sentimental attachments to women are well known, and it is most certainly not “unrealized” that he drew on them in his work (see, for instance, Edmund Wilson’s Axel’s Castle and Harold March’s The Two Worlds of Marcel Proust). Thirdly, the concept that À la Recherche du Temps Perdu is the symbolic story of Proust’s life, so far from being a discovery, was suggested by Proust himself. What is genuinely revolutionary about Mr. Painter’s approach is that it seeks to show that, in the most literal sense, Proust’s work is a “creative autobiography”; and it meticulously identifies and reconstructs the sources in Proust’s life of all the major and many of the minor characters, events, and places in his novel. (It is worth noting that Proust insisted on several occasions in his letters that his characters were “ invented.”)
Mr. Painter has succeeded in conducting his immensely detailed scrutiny without slipping into the dry tone of pedantry; he has pieced together a picture of Proust and his world and the making of his masterpiece that is continuously absorbing. He proceeds in chronological order, interrupted by four digressions: on the topography of Illiers, which became the mythical landscape of Combray; on the salons that Proust frequented, their hostesses, and the people he met there (Painter even records the witticisms that Proust later made use of); on the Dreyfus affair, which caused Proust to turn away from the great world with a mixture of disgust and guilt; and on Proust’s study of Ruskin, who led him to the idea of salvation through art.
Proust’s novel, Painter observes, is an “allegory” of his life. The precise nature of this allegory is not discussed in the present volume, but the pattern of Proust’s early years can be interpreted as a search for a vocation, which he fails to find in love, friendship, and society (and eventually discovers in art). To deal intelligently with the life of so extreme a neurotic as Proust calls for at least a modest fund of psychiatric insight, and many of his biographers have lacked it. One of the merits of Mr. Painter’s study is the remarkably tactful way in which it uses psychoanalysis as a possible source of illumination. All in all, the first installment of Painter’s biography warrants the expectation that the completed work will be one of the two or three major texts in the vast literature on Proust.

PIONEERS

FREE ASSOCIATHENS: MEMOIRS OF A PSYCHOANALYST (Basic Books, $5.00) is the unfinished autobiography of the late ERNEST JONES (1879-1958); he put it aside to devote himself to his monumental biography of Freud. The narrative covers the first half of Jones’s life, and an epilogue by his son rounds off the story. The title may possibly suggest that the author has, so to speak, put himself on the couch and given free play to his memories. But in fact the book is a conventionally composed personal history, and it is an extremely interesting one. What gives it an unusual flavor is the infusion of psychoanalytic insight into a chronicle that reminds one of those robustly affirmative Victorian memoirs celebrating “ my youth and early years.”
Ernest Jones was a man blessed with limitless energy and a talent for enjoyment. The amount of work he tackled in any given year is truly awesome to contemplate, but he found time for friendship, travel, the theater; he was an expert figure skater and chess player; and he had his fair share of youthful love affairs, followed by two (his first wife died) intensely happy marriages.
Jones, the son of a colliery manager, was born in a parish of Wales called Llwchwr (and he narrowly missed being named Myrrdin). His memoir opens with a crisp sketch of his apparently happy Victorian boyhood, and he recalls without distress the rigors of nineteenth-century life in the country — a mile-and-a-half walk to the well for water and twelvemile expeditions to and from church on Sundays. He notes that at seven he and his playmates were so “fully informed” about sexual matters that he later had no difficulty in accepting the side of Freud’s doctrine which aroused the fiercest resistance: his theories about the sexual life of children.
The middle chapters of Free Associations contain a fascinating account of the author’s extremely varied experience in the London medical world at the turn of the century. When Freud’s ideas came to Jones’s attention, he was at once profoundly impressed and presently began to put them into practice. In 1908, before starting a new life as director of the Psychiatric Clinic of the University of Toronto, Jones went to the Continent and became acquainted with Freud.
From here on, Jones’s story centers on the prominent role he played in the development of psychoanalysis. He conceived and carried out the idea of forming “an inner group of [five] trustworthy analysts” who would act as “a sort of Privy Council to Freud.” In alliance with A. A. Brill, he pioneered psychoanalysis in the United States. He founded the British Psychoanalytical Society. And he published the first book on the new doctrine written in English.
Jones’s relationship to Freud has often been justly compared to that of Huxley to Darwin — both Huxley and Jones were, as Jones puts it, “bonny fighters.” It is strange indeed that the Freudian revolution, whose originators were Central Europeans and for the most part Jews, should have found its most orthodox and most tenacious missionary in a Welshman of Baptist ancestry who had to teach himself German in order to read Freud and who was closer in temperament to Victorian optimism than to the pessimism of the master.
The life of pioneers in an altogether different sphere — Kenya in the second decade of the century — is beautifully described in ELSPETH HUXLEY’S memoir: THE FLAME TREES OF THIKA (Morrow, $4.00). One aspect of the book is at first disconcerting: the author was a very young child in the period she is writing about, and unless she is endowed with, literally, total recall, much of her detail and all of her dialogue must be some sort of reconstruction. But so vivid and so captivating is Mrs. Huxley’s narrative that this objection soon ceases to trouble the reader.
The author’s parents. Robin and Tilly, were a couple of charming innocents, who bought five hundred acres in the wild Kikuyu country in the hope of getting rich by growing coffee. They lacked every qualification, except spirit, for the pioneer life — Robin’s idea of how to recruit native labor was to turn on the Gramophone and keep playing The Bluebells of Scotland. But when, after two years, the war took Robin and his family back to England, they had come to understand and love the world of Thika, and Chief Kupanya bestowed on them a necklace with good magic to ensure their return. The charms of Mrs. Huxley’s chronicle, whose tone is tender, poignant, or gay, are the sharp, highly individual portraits of Africans and European settlers, the vivid evocation of the ways and landscape of antique Africa, and the artistry with which the incidents are handled — a murder among the Kikuyus, a case of possession by an evil spell, a buffalo hunt and its tragic consequences. The Flame Trees of Thika can well stand comparison with Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa.

“MULTIPLICITY OF EYES”

The essay has been well described by Mr. Leslie Fiedler as “ that brief piece of discursive prose, whose intimacy of tone and relaxed approach make it the next step beyond intelligent conversation.” ALDOUS HUXLEY is unquestionably a master of this prose form; indeed, critics have tried to prove that he is a bad novelist by arguing that he is a good essayist. Many of his best pieces have appeared in volumes which are now out of print, and it is pleasant to find them restored to circulation in his COLLECTED ESSAYS (Harper, $5.00).
In his preface, Huxley observes that the essay has “a three-poled frame of reference” — the autobiographical, the objective or concreteparticular, and the abstract-universal. Some celebrated essayists have been at their best on only one of those poles — Lamb on the personal, Macaulay on the objective, Bacon on the universal. Huxley, for his part, finds most satisfying the writers who, like Montaigne, have moved freely, hither and thither, between the three poles of the essay. He himself, to my mind, has never been at home in the region of the personal, the autobiographical, but he has shuttled with immense skill, wit, and erudition from the particular to the universal, from choses vues to general truths.
Mr. Huxley, as the headings in the present collection remind us, has written essays on an astonishing variety of subjects: nature and travel, criticism of all the arts, history, politics, sociology, psychology, and mysticism. The territory he has explored stretches from the “delicious” buttocks of baroque statuary to the beatific visions induced by mescaline. Whatever his subject, Huxley brings to bear on it“ a multiplicity of eyes” — scientific, philosophic, economic, artistic, religious. Thus, an Indian garden sets his mind ranging from horticulture to migrant birds, unemployment among college graduates, the categorical imperative, cracker mottoes, and Hindu totems. The distinctive character of the Huxleyan essay is admirably suggested by a passage in Point Counter Point in which the writer Philip Quarles says: “One sentence, and I am already involved in history, art and all the sciences. The whole story of the universe is implicit in any part of it. Make the smell of roast duck in an old kitchen diaphanous and you will have a glimpse of everything from the spiral nebulae to Mozart’s music and the stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi.”

FICTION CHRONICLE

THE CAVE (Random House, $4.95) by ROBERT PENN WARREN introduces us to a dozen characters, involves them in a tragic situation (a young man is trapped in a subterranean cave), and shows us how this tragedy affects them: broadly speaking, it brings to each of them a deeper self-awareness, which helps them to try to free themselves from the various caves in which they have become trapped.
The setting is a small town in Tennessee, and the characters are a varied lot. Among them are a onetime “ hillbilly heller,” who is now a stiff-necked old man dying of cancer; the bank president and his pretty daughter, who is pregnant but won’t name her seducer; a tormented minister, who is struggling to overcome unchristian jealousies; the minister’s son, who ruthlessly exploits the fate of the trapped man, his partner, to gain the notoriety that will pay his way to the longed-for freedom of New York; and a Greek restaurant owner with a bright-yellow Cadillac, an invalid ex-chorus-girl wife, and an overdraft. These characterizations are excellent, and Warren is a vigorous and accomplished storyteller. As a picture of the intricate, sometimes startling, relationships in a small Southern town, his novel has considerable force. But to my taste, it suffers from various kinds of inflation. Like a number of wellknown American writers, Warren has utterly no regard for the classical virtue of economy, and he throws in incidents and data which are largely, if not wholly, irrelevant. His style runs to overwriting and to a stagy overintensity. Here is a sample of the passages which struck me as fancy wordmongering: “It wasn’t any real surprise when it happened. Nor was it a non-surprise. It was an event outside of the dimension in which you expected, or didn’t expect, something to happen, either above or below or slantwise off yonder where you didn’t have to look at it. But it came later than anybody who might have been able to think about it in the dimension of expecting would have expected.”
To turn from Robert Penn Warren to FRANÇOIS MAURIAC is to move to the opposite stylistic pole, where all is brevity and concentration. The Mauriac novel which has just been published, QUESTIONS OF PRECEDENCE (Farrar, Straus, & Cudahy, S3.50), was written nearly forty years ago. Its setting is the author’s native city, Bordeaux; and he paints a devastating picture of the snobberies, cruelty, and lordly loutishness of the ruling caste—“the aristocracy of the cork” — in the early part of the century. Mauriac’s narrator belongs to a rich family in the timber trade, and he longs to be admitted to the world of the great wine families, whose sons go to school with him. After a painful humiliation, he and his sister Florence try to arouse the jealousy of “the Sons” by taking up a poor, brilliant, romantic-looking outsider, Augustin. They invite him to their summer villa, and their strategy works: Florence catches one of the Sons. But in the course of an enchanted summer, Augustin has fallen in love with her, and when he learns that she has simply been using him, he vanishes. Before going, he spills out to her the mysterious and terrible story of his past, which has a shattering effect on her. She enters into marriage already disillusioned with her husband’s world, and soon she gives herself up to the exploration of physical passion. What follows is a confused and tentative but at moments eloquent treatment of one of Mauriac’s major themes: that when man’s sins drag him into the abyss and make him an outcast from society, they are hounding him along a road that may lead him to seek access to salvation.
The novel, though compactly narrated, is a bit fuzzy, crudely melodramatic, and sprinkled with improbabilities. Nevertheless, it has a measure of that power which is the hallmark of the great artist — the ability to create a watertight world and to involve the reader in it emotionally, however distant he may be in temperament and belief from its creator. It would be difficult, I imagine, to be more out of sympathy than I am with Mauriac’s sinhaunted vision of life and with his convictions that all human loyalties are obstacles to divine salvation, that all physical desire is as hideous as the ravages of leprosy. And yet I find even in Questions of Precedence, one of his apprentice efforts, an electrifying quality which few contemporary novels have.
The young French writers of today, especially the women, are reactivating the oldest tradition of the French novel: its reputation for being scandalous. The latest succès de scandale to come to us from France is CHRISTIANE ROCHEFORT’S first novel, WARRIOR’S REST (David McKay, $3.75), which missed the Prix Femina by a vote, won another prize, sold 100,000 copies, and greatly impressed the critics.
Warrior’s Rest describes a journey to the end of the line — the line in this case being bed and the bottle. The two travelers are Genevieve Le Theil, the narrator, a puritanical and priggish young bourgeoise, and Rcnaud Sard, an idealist manqué who has become an alcoholic and a nihilist with the searing contempt for normalcy of Colin Wilson’s Outsider. Quite by accident, Genevieve saves Renaud’s life after he has attempted suicide. She promptly fails in love with him and, since he is homeless and destitute, installs him in her Paris apartment. The candor, brutality, and demonic energy of his love-making bring about her sexual awakening, and she finds herself in bondage to a man who emerges from empty passivity only to lose himself in sex and drunkenness. A curious struggle ensues: Genevieve tries to coax Rcnaud toward a more human existence, and he, determined to destroy the demons" of her puritanism, forces her into the lower depths of depravity and submits her to atrocious indignities. In the piercingly ironic conclusion, love conquers all - and defeats itself. For when Renaud, surrendering unconditionally, makes Genevieve marry him and begs her to help him enter “the Great Washing Machine” of ordinary life, Genevieve realizes that he has ceased to be the man she loved.
The robust vein of black comedy that runs through this nightmarish story makes it a singular fusion of the tragic, the erotic, and the comic. Slightly reminiscent of Lolita, it seems to me to move on two levels. On one, it is an audacious description of sexual obsession and of a season in hell. On the other, it parodies and punctures both the impulse of the amorous bourgeoise to tame her rogue male and the fashionable glorification of the Outsider. Christiane Rochefort, whom some readers will undoubtedly consider a moral monster, is unmistakably a writer of real talent.
The climber of lower-middle-class origin — the dominant figure in the new British fiction — appears as a Labor member of Parliament in NO LOVE FOR JOHNNIE (Harper, $3.50) by WILFRED FIENBURGH, a Labor member of Parliament who died in an automobile accident just after completing this novel. Mr. Fienburgh has written an adroit, fastmoving study of an ambitious politician, and his inside picture of British politics is quite first-rate. No Love For Johnnie is a novel of contemporary England which belongs with those of Braine, Wain, and Kingsley Amis.

PARSONS AND POETS

TWO GENTLE MEN (Dutton, $5.00) by MARCHETTE CHUTE is a dual biography of the poets George Herbert (1593—1633) and Robert Herrick (1591-1674). The link between them is that both were country clergymen and both were “gentle men in an age that was not gentle . . . they refused to interfere with their neighbors at a time when interference was almost a duty.” Otherwise, they were poles apart. Herbert came of a noble family of warriors, but he grew up dedicated to peace and the service of God; when he started to write poetry, he assured his mother that it would be “ever consecrated to God’s glory.” At Cambridge he prepared himself for the Church; then at thirty-one he entered Parliament. His ambition was to become secretary of state and to assist King James in resisting the pressure for war. When James’s death ended these hopes, Herbert returned to the Church. The poems he called “Affliction” reflect the anguish of a man who feels he has lost his way and has not put his gifts to their best use. But in the last years of his short life, he found peace and fulfillment as a country parson. He has generally been portrayed, as “little less than sainted.” His one volume of poems, The Temple, was published after his death.
Herrick was the son of a prosperous goldsmith. He became apprenticed in his father’s trade; then he studied law at Cambridge. When his closest friend entered the Church, he entered with him and remained in it throughout his long life, but did not take his responsibilities very seriously. In his youth, he had found the vocation to which he was to devote the whole of himself, the writing of poetry, and for a time he formed part of the hard-drinking group that gathered around Ben Jonson. He was an alien to his fanatical century, for “paganism lodged beside Christianity in his mind as affably as flowers in a field.” Giving free rein in his poems to what he called his “wanton wit,” he sang of “fresh and fragrant mistresses”; “of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers/ Of April, May, of June, and July-flowers.” His poetry is some of the happiest in the English language.
Readers who crave high drama and bold colors may find the lives of Herbert and Herrick too tame for their taste, but Miss Chute is a painstaking and accomplished biographer, and she has fashioned out of undramatic material an interesting and thoroughly readable narrative. Her portraits of the two principal figures are vitalized by sympathy and fruitful research, and among the book’s other assets are a fine sketch of Cambridge in the early seventeenth century and a remarkably clear and succinct analysis of the religious conflicts of the period. I have but two reservations: Miss Chute’s overall picture of this “violent, passion-ridden” era seemed to me a bit on the bland side, and there is often too much gentleness, I feel, in her verdicts. She says, for instance, of Cromwell that “he had relatively little tyranny on his conscience when he died.” Contrast this with Churchill’s summation of him as a man who “sensibly darkened the journey of mankind.”