22 MARCH 1946, Page 24

Au Pays de la Magie. By Henri Michaux. (Horizon. lOs.


Tits small paper-covered volume is the shortest work—and the first available in England—of a French writer who before the war was very little known even in his own country. Gaining a reputation during the Occupation partly through the interest of Andre Gide, Michaux is a writer of verse and of travel books on both real and imaginary places. This." land of magic " shows the extreme of fantasy; nothing could go beyond it without becoming unintelligible. Aspects of. the " mages' " life are presented in a miscellany of the short epigrammatic paragraphs which are so typically French ; the subject would hardly beimalleable as a continuous narrative. No land of the imagination-in ;English " literature was ever so unexpected, so "Surrealist." On the highway in this " pays " one may-find a wave separated from the ocean. •A drop of water becomes a family pet, " plus- sensible ,qu'utt chiefs." In the market-place forty or fifty winds blow, and each mage has his own. The canapas tree exudes a brawn. secretion through emotion when the trumpeters pass in the heat of the day. ;'1t is tempting to try to see a symbolic meaning in these creations Out there is none and no moral purpose. Some readers may become impatient with the land of magic because it has so little connection with the everyday world. Others will find en- joyment and stimulation in the precise chiselled style, the poetic (and sometimes horrifying) quality of the images and the extreme fertility of the invention.