Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 7, No. 7 July 26, 1944
Three New Books
Three New Books
U.S.A. Post War
A book by the Vice-President of the United States would be of interest whatever its subject, and this collection of addresses by Mr. Henry Wallace repays reading. He deals generally with post-war problems as they concern the U.S.A., and it is gratifying to find such a progressive outlook in a man of high rank in that country. Mr. Wallace's basic assumption is that international co-operation, coupled with full employment and production, is essential to world peace. One chapter consists of an attack on isolationism in its new forms, and again and again he points out the futility of the tariff walls which prevented the debtor nations paying in goods in the years between the wars. America can help the rehabilitation of the rest of the world through her industrial capacity, but at the same time she must accept foreign goods as payment in return. Only thus can she hope to maintain her own production.
Mr. Wallace has issued a grave warning on the subject of the change over from war to peace. Unless full employment can be maintained, there is little hope for the future. "The one criterion by which we should judge all fiscal, monetary and taxation policies is whether they bring about an increased balanced production of useful goods." He has been called an idealist. He dreams of a world where man can live in health and peace. I wish more of our statesmen had that at the back of their minds. He sees in the technological advances of today the opportunity for comfort and plenty for the whole world. He is a realist, if he appreciates that possibility. Where he is perhaps idealistic, is in his belief that these things can be carried out by private enterprise, supported by a benevolent government. In his own country it will be a hard fight, as I think he half realises, for he expresses his hatred of trusts and cartels. Mr. Wallace has recently gone to China as President Roosevelt's personal envoy.
(Our copy per courtesy of Modern Books Ltd.)
Since this was written, Mr. Wallace has been rejected as Democrat nominee for Vice-President. It seems a pity that such a far-seeing and liberal thinker should have been turned down by his party at a time when the future of the world hangs on the post-war policy of the United States.
The striking success of that beautifully written and produced series of plays, "The Man Born to be King," leads one to hope that more major overseas radio drama will be heard here. Of these, the plays of Louis MacNeice should have high priority. His latest, "Christopher Columbus," is a fine large story in blank verse of the great discoverer, with a large cast (in its first production from the BBC including Laurence Olivier, Marius Goring, Robert Speight, and Margaret Rawlings, with the BBC symphony playing music specially composed by William Walton).
The first act tells of Columbus' [unclear: better] struggle with the scoffers of Spain and Portugal to prove that his Vision of the Future was not a wild-eyed fancy. Fiercely he pleads for a ship and their confidence, then only for a ship. In the second act, driven on by his own confidence, against wind and weather and the doubts of his crew, he achieves the magnificent victory. Then again to Europe, to the adulation of Court and people alike.
Through the play runs a chorus, and the voices of Doubt and Faith, and much music. Great lists of grand Spanish names and titles roll through the words.
This play is exciting enough to read, in its superb language, and would be fine to hear. There are copious notes and explanations by MacNeice, including a good treatise on radio drama in general.
Particularly pleasing, too, are the "links" between scenes, as:
"Night music now throws a light on Columbus talking to himself"; and
"In Cordoba someone is singing"; and
"The Indian song comes up again and covers Columbus' departure for Europe."
It's grand stuff, and it is well printed by Faber and Faber.
News From Heaven
The residents of heaven have been rather upset lately by the amount of dust and acrid smoke rising from the earth. They resolve to send an expedition to discover what the trouble is about, consisting of Messrs. Marco Polo and his faithful secretary. A descent is made by parachutes specially constructed by Euclid, Aristotle and da Vinci, and the narrative describes their adventures in England, where they are fortunate enough to land. Polo spends most of his time dining with duchesses, philandering with film stars and guzzling with generals, but his secretary does some worthwhile social research as well as maintaining radio communication with heaven.
There are uproarious scenes among the military strategists in the children's sand-pits and in the Rochester Club, where the elite dine to save on rations. Jeffrey Dell's racy style is reminiscent of Jurgen, his particular, critical approach resembles that of Douglas Reed and A. G. Mac Donnell, but he has an even clearer insight into the motives of Colonel Blimp and Lady Astor, cunningly disguised as General Now then Waite-Waite and Anathema Longacre. A final note of despair is added when the travellers return to heaven only to find that it too has become a Fascist state, with streets lined by a Persuasion Corps, arresting those who are rash enough to speak in favour of freedom of expression.
Perhaps a rather flippant way of dealing with the chaotic state of Britain's mis government in wartime, but unlike many more serious works on the subject, this new novel leaves no doubt in the readers' minds as to the real source of the bungling.
News for Heaven, by Jeffrey Dell Published by Jonathan Cape. Our copy by courtesy Modem Books.