15 AUGUST 1947, Page 26

Transformation 4. Edited by Stefan Schimanski and Henry Treece. (Lindsay

Drummond. 8s. 6d.)

THE theme of this fourth issue of Transformation is "the power within us "—the title of a book on Nufiez Cabeza de Vaca, a sixteenth- century Spanish gentleman, who, shipwrecked on the shores of America and deprived of all contacts with civilisation, found he possessed strange powers of healing. Writers with varying back- grounds—Canon Demant, Henry Miller, Dr. Martin Johnson, the physicist, and others—comment on Cabeza de Vaca's journey. There is an essay by Berdyaev on the conscience of the Russian people, a section on Saint Exupery, discussions on French, Russian, Spanish and American literature, recent French (translated) and American verse, and at the end a fiction section including a sketch by Saroyan. Indeed, there is a vast amount to read—much of it only vaguely connected with the " theme," The miscellany suffers from a certain • pomposity—one essay begins, " There is no dualism in the cosmos " —and gives the impression that to some of the contributors words are valuable for their own sakes apart from anything they have to convey. Hence there are some pretentious gymnastics. A certain heaviness also cannot be avoided when so much is translation ; even Guillaume Apollinaire is flattened out. Saroyan, of course, keeps his wide-eyed humour ; and there is a good deal of solid thinking, especially in the first part of the book.