o The Lyttleton Hart-Davis Letters: Vols Five and Six Edited by Rupert Hart-Davis. (John Murray £7.95). Final instalment of the correspondence between the retired Eton schoolmaster and the renowned publisher. biographer and gadabout. who even had the temerity to make adultery domestic. Though perhaps by this stage one had his sights set on publication. the opinions are no less subjective and bouquets of barbed wire are festooned on angry young men (Amis. Osborne. Tynan) and an angry old one (Leavis) with equal gusto. A bible for old fogeys. cricket fans and quote collectors.
o the Happy Foreigner and The Squire Enid Bagnold (Virago £3.95 each). First published in 1920. The Happy Foreigner is an impressionistic account of post-war France as seen through the love-stricken eyes of Fanny. a driver with the French army. who smiles her way through frontier conditions and a brief crise-de-coeur with typical English insouciance. A study in optimism and self-sufficiency.
Eighteen years and four children later. Bagnold produced a definitive (upper middle class) summation of the agonies and ecstasies of childbirth. In charge of family and fractious servants while her husband does his bit in the Colonies. the Squire awaits the arrival of number five with almost ritual delight. An intense. sometimes beautiful. contemplation of motherhood.
0 Putting the Boot In Dan Kavanagh (Penguin £2.50). Duffy — diminutive goalie. hypochondriac and sexually ambidextrous private eye — pursues the conspirators of the Athletic‘s downfall to the Fourth Division and oblivion. Sharp. funny. topical. as to be expected from Flaubert‘s parrot‘s ventriloquist.
0 Scoop Evelyn Waugh (Penguin £2.50) An expose’ of the life of the foreign corresponedent and of journalism generally. as John Boot is
' despatched under misapprehension
by The Daily Beast to cover the Ishmaelite crisis. Abyssinia revisited for Waugh. this time with his satirist‘s cap on. The result is one of his funniest and most acid novels.
0 Prison Letters of Countess Markievicz Introduction by Amanda Sebestyen (Virago £4.95) The daughter of a wealthy Irish landowner and a countess by marriage. Constance Gore-Booth seems an unlikely heroine of Irish Republicanism. Yet at her funeral in 1927. 300.000 Irish men and women lined the route and eight lorries were needed to carry the floral tributes. She was. by any standards. a remarkable woman. This book attempts to give an account of her life which accords her a deserved place in Irish. and indeed British history.
As a woman it is remarkable that she should have risen to second-in-command of a garrison during the 1916 Easter Rising. The first halfof the book outlines her role in one of the most tempestuous chapters in Ireland‘s history. Moved by the poverty and suffering of the Irish people. Madame Markievicz.
as she was known to them. chose at great personal cost to take arms against the injustices she saw around her. While in prison she had to suffer the execution. within earshot. of her comrades in the Easter Rising— (‘onnolly. Pearse and the others. Her own death sentence was commuted. on the grounds of her sex. to life imprisonment.
In many ways it is this part of the book. a biographical sketch. which proves the most rivetting for those unfamiliar with her life story. Her letters to her sister. while providing evidence of her remarkable resilience in the face ofbrutality by her British captors. are necessarily at times preoccupied with personal matters which seem comparatively mundane. However. taken as a whole. they give an insight into her character and to her motivation in the Republican cause.
It is a book which deserves a sympathetic hearing. and should be read by all who wish to understand the hostility of the Irish people to Britain‘s continuous involvement in their country. Ironically. as highlighted in the introduction. the internment without trial of Constance Gore-Booth and others is paralleled today by the indiscriminate and degrading strip-searching of Irish women in Britain‘s jails. (Kay Barbour)
o Harpoon C. W. Nicol (Andre Deutsch £11.95) ltis 1846 and the village ofTaiji in Japan is looking forward to celebrations in anticipation ofthe harpooning ofa huge grey whale presently thrashing around the whalers‘ boats. Taiji‘s livelihood depends on such killings and although the Japanese saying ‘one whale on the beach means wealth for seven villages‘. isn't quite the truth. one whale can make the difference between a lean winter and a profitable one.
But what befalls the community is not so much emaciation as a laceration. In the fight. Jinsuke. the chief harpooner's son. has his arm bitten off by a shark and it seems his whaling career must be over. However. outwith the safe confines ofthe village. trouble is brewing in Japan. Trade routes established by the Japanese are being challenged by powerful British and American ﬂeets. equipped with modern weaponry. The Samurai — the warrior class ofJapan — knowing their heritage to be doomed. are forced to look to the nations to build an army in preparation for war. One
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such samurai — is Sadayori who selects Jinsuke as his spy. compelling him to leave Taiji. his pregnant lover and family.
The novel revolves around these two characters and their adventures in a country at a vital stage of its development: the end ofthe Shogunate, the beginning ofthe Meiji restoration. As Japan takes Western ideas and concepts on board. so Jinsuke takes American citizenship and becomes Jim Sky.
There is always a bitter-sweetness about that which must be left behind. but the over-riding feel of Harpoon is one of life and colour and hopefulncss. (Kay Barbour)
o The Maid oi Buttermere Melvyn Bragg (Hodder & Stoughton. £10.95) When the case ofJohn Hatfield. the Famous Seducer, came to court in 1802. the public was held enthralled. Here was a man whose crime was heinous. his guilt irrefutable. and yet he was championed as fiercely as he was condemned.
‘Lies were my passport, disguise my visiting card.‘ A consummate actor who appears to have deluded himselfas successfully as everyone else. Hatfield posed as the Earl of Hopetoun's brother and. ignoring the claims of a wife and children, set out to marry a fortune. Under the mesmeric control of his accomplice. the lizard-eyed Newton. he stalked the newly-fashionable Lake District. finding a plethora ofprey. though only one heiress. the repellent Miss D'Arcy.
Half-way through negotiating this lucrative marriage. he sought temporary relief by marrying— and abandoning — Mary Robinson. celebrated Beauty of Buttermere. the least pitiful yet most pitied of his victims. Previously adopted by the Romantics as a symbol of rustic purity. Mary was now seen as ‘a cause worth defending in the name of post-revolutionary ideals.‘ Hatfield‘s case. Bragg suggests. saw the confirmation of a new 19th-century identity and morality.
Using contemporary records and an excess of sentimental imagination. Bragg draws a full and. it seems. over-sympathetic portrait of a man either amoral or schizoid. Plough through the first 300 pages, and the momentum and interest finally pick up as the Seducer‘s past is unravelled. and fact and analysis rather than unbridled poetic licence begin to dominate.
The List 3— 16 April 49