As a spirited attack upon the excesses of French writers,
such as Henri de Montherlant, Barres and Gauthier, who have found in Spain precisely the illusions which they first took there themselves, Mr. Mario Praz's Unromantic Spain (Knopf, 10s. 6d.) is as entertaining as most exercises in destructive criticism are. As a help to understanding the special genius of the country, it is almost worthless. If we reject the legend of sang, volupti el la Mort and the testimony of those obsessed Intellectuals who, in Mr. Praz's amusing phrase, rub their exasperated senses against the thorns of Spanish mysticism, are we thereby justified in accepting his Italian legend that the land of Cervantes and Unamuno is a banal vacuum ? Much may be said for Mr. Praz's observation that there is a dark strain of monotony in the landscape, art and life, but man cannot live by monotony alone. All countries have their monotony, but it is the foreign traveller who notices it. Mr. Praz's insistence on the peculiar tedium of Spain becomes, in spite of his own redeeming wit, tedious. A writer who pretends to be bored by the processions of Seville, the bull fights, the Alhambra, and to be amused only by the disappointments of the poster-deluded tourist, descends to mere naughtiness. The excellent illustrations of the book defeat the author's purpose. It is a pity that Mr. Praz has not put his knowledge and literary skill at the disposal of a less perverse attitude.