17 AUGUST 1944, Page 18

Shorter Notice

THE Penguin New Writing •is always extremely good value for 9d. This is a good number for criticism but poor for rapportage and creative work, with the exception of Louis Macneice's " Prayer before Bath " and Edith Sitwell's distinguished poem. Like Yeats, Miss Sitwell with age develops new techniques. John Lehmann's article on Virginia Woolf, originally written for the North African magazine Fontaine, is perceptive about her work and reveals the interest she took both in gossip and in the young writers published by the Hogarth Press. This is the best criticism I have seen by John Lehmann, but perhaps he overestimates " Between the Acts," which many people rate lower than the delicate, suggestive " Jacob's Room " and far lower than the great poetic novels " The Waves " and "To the Lighthouse." The late Demetrios Capetanakis' " View of English Poetry " is so steeped in delicious quotation that one does not stop to ask if it has a logical or rambling structure or whether it makes any new points. Stephen Spender says some good things in his rather pompous discussion of the crisis of symbols. The poem of Auden's reprinted here is one of his slightest and silliest, and Ray Fuller's account of a convalescent leave in Africa, though perhaps studiedly pointless, adds nothing to his reputation. There is another and rath.!r poignant instalment of Sargeson's " One Summer," and another welcome selection of contributors' photo- graphs. The other writings are unremarkable.