26 MARCH 1954, Page 30

Recent Reprints

PROBABLY the most popular historical work ever written, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, appears again in two forms : first in a brief, stimulating hors d'oeuvre, Selected Prose from Edward Gibbon (Falcon Press, 7s. 6d.), which has a lively introduction by Simon Harcourt-Smith, and, second, in the full text with an introduction by Christopher Dawson (Dent: Everyman, 6 vols., 7s. each). The selections show Gibbon as an artist of prose; the seductive, mellifluous sentences roll on from Trajan's rule to the ruins of fifteenth-century Rome, and to dip into them is half-way to settling down to the whole million words.

Six years in the Royal Palace at Bangkok gave rise to a unique book of recollections: The English Governess at the Siamese Court, by Anna Leonowens, with an introduction by Leigh Williams (Arthur Barker, 15s.). The author, widowed in India, set about earning her own living by teaching, and then daringly accepted the position of governess to King Mongkut's sixty-seven children—and to as many of his wives as wished to learn English. Of the Court, harem life, Buddhism, the social and political scene, and of her own strange part in it between 1862 and 1868, Mrs. Leonowens wrote a book of considerable talent, first published in 1870, which makes an agreeable reprint. Another set of travellers' tales: John Masefield'S A Mainsail Haul (Rupert Hart-Davis, The Mariners Library, 8s. 6d.)1 eighteen pieces, mainly of buccaneers, some of them true tales, and some inventions, from the Poet Laureate's sailing days.

An interesting bi-national experiment is being arranged by Anglo. French Literapy Services, the English publishers of the Collection Centaure, a uniform series of novels at 6s. or 7s. each, rather cheaper than their original editions, with the attraction of being case-bound• The 7s. series is devoted to the adventures of Simenon's Superinteir dant Maigret ; the other series to novelists such as Duhamel and Julien Green. No less interesting is the decision of Mr. J. L. Hodson to publish a ninth edition of his own novel, Grey Dawn—Red Nigh! (distributed by Simpkin Marshall, 7s. 6d.) after his publishers decided not to do so. Mr. Hodson embarked on a routine testing of his potential market, doubled the number of copies that was wanted, had the original reproduced by photolithography, and so renewed the life of a 1914-18 story that was first published in 1929. Other novels that have graduated into new editions are David Footman's Balkan entertainment Pig and Pepper (Verschoyle, 9s. 6d.), now with a foreword by Nigel Balchin ; Ernest Hemingway's Green Hills off Africa (Cape, 12s. 6d.); an omnibus edition of The Short Novels o John Steinbeck (Heinemann, 15s.) which contains six stories ; and Edith Wharton's The Custom of the Country (John Lehmann, 12s. 60* An attractive production has been made of Tales of Suspense by Wilkie Collins (Folio Society, 18s.), edited by Robert Ashley and Herbert van Thal, with lithographs by Anne Scott.

From a miscellany of reprinted works the fourth edition of Major Edmund Sandars's A Bird Book for the Pocket (Oxford, 15s.) stands out as excellent in its terse descriptive notes of British bird species and the hundred-odd colour pages of them. There is a nevi edition of Una Ellis-Fermor's The Irish Dramatic Movement (Methuen* 18s.), brought up to date from the first edition of 1929, and four notable translations: The Last Days of Socrates (Penguin Classic's; 2s.), which is Hugh Tredinnick's version of the Apology, Crito, and Phaedo; Professor R. K. Gordon's selection of Anglo-Saxon PoetrYt a fine anthology revised from the earlier Everyman edition (Dent; 6s.); a rather brash, and not very good, translation by Peter Rod° of Machiavelli's ll Principe, under the title The Ruler, published by the, Bodley Head at 10s. 6d. with an introduction by Walter Elliot; and Pudovkin's two books combined in one volume as Film Techniqa and Film Acting (Vision, 21s.). These are valuable essays, and are illustrated by a number of shots from Mother and other films.