27 FEBRUARY 1948, Page 26

Leaves in the Storm. Edited by S. Schimanski and H.

Treece. (Lindsay Drummond. 10s. 6d.) THIS is a book of diaries covering the war years, and anyone who has ever kept such a repository of private thoughts and secret reflections will know how really uncomfortable they can be—particularly if the writer has been at all honest with himself. Most of the entries in this. book, however, have the self-conscious air of having been com- posed for publication. " I am going to keep a journal because I can- not accept the fact that I feel so shattered that I cannot write at all," said Stephen Spender on September 3rd, 1939. He approaches war as a penitent approaches the confessional, except that instead of acts he describes theories : the meaning of poetry, some asides on sex, a meeting with T. S. Eliot. The most convincing, the only one in fact that strikes the reader as being alive, is Alun Lewis's Lance lack, a moving and honest piece of work : " Life is a series of meetings with strangers. We are all strangers, to ourselves as well." He approaches the full significance of Army life. Others, such as Robert Herring or 'Rayner Heppenstall, content themselves with reporting what they see ; their entries lack core or any change of heart.- William Sansom's A Fireman's journal is rewarding. What, perhaps, is surprising and slightly embarrassing is the running commentary inserted by the editors, which, has an air of prim earnestness and introspective patriotism. On the whole this book is a lukewarm performance.