Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 4 March 30, 1938
Book Review — Very Heaven
A fine novel. Mr. Aldington writes with the same undeniable invitingness—midway between Mts. Lawrence and Huxley.
The story is almost as contemporary as yesterday's breakfast. It concerns a voting man—Chris. Heylin—his bid for life in Mr. Baidwin's England and his [unclear: affairs] Heylin's parents are as simpering a pair of middle-class ninnies us you could dread to meet. Blessed in such circumstances, would be the child girted with an Electrao Edipus complex. After the dislocation of his academic career Heylin breaks free from his family circle and does his best to exist in London.
Just as unemployment seems certain he unearths and marries an attractive and wholly desirable young woman with a Hat or her own and £300 a year!
Not so fortunate his sister, who Is mated, by a devoted mammy, to a beery baronet, as rich as a pin is fat, and who like Mr. Hemmingway, goes shooting among the "Green Hills of Africa." Her rewards are squalor, pregnancy and syphilis—all from her husband.
Mr. Aldington develops these situations clear-heatedly and without any side-stepping of individual issues. The book stands as a forceful, piercing denunciation of the values of capitalist England. So far so good.
But by way of solution Mr. Aldington can offer no more than a personal re-awakening,.
"Against destructive revolution, the revolution or man himself. Against the power of explosive and poison, the power of thought and supple reason. Against their death-worship, our life-worship."
Most certainly the need for Mr, Aldington's "living impulse"—the accepting of life in the way Lawrence accepted it—in the relations or men and women is frighteningly urgent, But can this "revolution of man himself' occur irrespective of economic standing? This is a leading question of which Mr. Aldington always gives a non-committal answer. All Mr. Aldington's people seem to get their groceries and milk-tokens without much trouble; either they have a private income like Anthony Clarendon or they have wealthy friends like Etta Morrison.
Worthy of Concen.
Perhaps, though, one is demanding too much; whatever the weaknesses in Mr. Aldington's social analysis, his view of life remains unimplicated, and it is a view which deserves the concern of all manner of social reformers and revolutionaries. Many of them are so per-occupied with statistics and sliding-rules that they have abandoned the life of the senses-the energy and beauty of existence. Realisation lies not that way.