26 DECEMBER 1931, Page 28

Anthologies may be said to fall roughly into two classes,

those that follow the path of least resistance, the chronological path, and those that attempt some sort of arrangemeht according to a theory of ideas. The London Book of English Prose (Eyre and Spottiswoode, 7s. 6d.) is of the latter kind, and may be usefully compared with the " Oxford " anthology, which is chronological.- The aim of the compilers, Professor Herbert Read and Mr. Bonamy Dobree, has been to discover an excellence of utility, for their theory is that good prose is not necessarily noticeable or picturesque prose, but a com- munication as direct as possible of the subject in hand between writer and reader. The compilers have found that there are three ways of doing this : the descriptive or scientific, the narrative or pictorial, and the " emotive " or impression- istic. It is a serviceable division, and the reader is warned that in practice no hard and fast line of demarcation exists ; all writers are compounded of a proportion of the picturesque, the emotional, and the rational. The three kinds are sub- divided into species. For example, in the Narrative class we get Story-telling, History, Autobiography, Biography, and Letters. Many of these sub-divisions are casual rather than philosophic, and it would be difficult tojustify them from a strictly critical point of view. But they usefully enable the reader to find his way about the anthology, and to discover that the compilers, as well as being good literary- botanists, are healthy lovers of the growing flowers in the field of English prose.