5 MAY 1923, Page 24


Georges Apple, Pasteur et Profes.seur en Italie et a Paris, 1827- Lack of space makes it, unfortunately, impossible for the Spectator to devote much attention to foreign literature, but we should like to call attention to the admirable French biography of which the present volume is the first. It is compiled by members of the family of Georges Appia- pastor, artist and schoolmaster—and consists not only of matter contributed by them, but also of copious extracts from letters written by him, his parents, and others. The excellence of the book—for an excellent book it is—lies in two facts. In the first place, it is not merely a material biography of dates and information, but the history of a man's mental and spiritual growth through a process of doubts, conflicts and mental stress into the clear light of spiritual well-being. Secondly, we are shown the man not in isolation but as living, moving, and developing among his local and human surroundings ,and as the product of a peculiar social and spiritual ancestry ; and both of these elements—the personal development and the local and human influences— are so convincingly reproduced that the book has much of the quality of a work of art, a leisurely human novel such as Jean Cristophe. The Appia family originated among the Vaudois of Piedmont, a race which through centuries of persecution followed a free and simple Christian cult, free from the dogma and mysticism of Home • a cult which, as represented in the family circle in which Georges Appia grew up, produced a mode of life whose religious discipline was liberal enough to include a• love of _ humanity regardless of class distinctions, a warmth, joviality and humorous common sense, a delight in nature and the simple good things of life which constitute piety in the most real sense of that misused word. Of the delightful and lovable mother and father, and the many other personalities whom the book presents so vividly, we have not space to speak. We can only recommend the book warmly to all who love biography and the study of human character.