11 JULY 1931, Page 26


Human History

7s. 6d.) "The men who left the trenches in 1918 realized that in order to gain our individuality we must lose the war. They had dis- covered the great change in themselves. They saw that nothing was certain but that anything was possible. They came—still believing in their country—and found that it was as it were an open festering wound, at whose edges rough hands were pressing. They stood among the ruins and listened with incredulous astonish- ment to the catchwords and theories which were hawked about as the treasures of the future and as the wisdom and truth of the present. And since they had learnt under the shadow of death to distinguish truth from falsehood, they were not easily duped. They quietly began to do what was needed. A good many of them turned aside rather disdainfully, pinning their faith to nothing but themselves. They returned to their offices, their professions ; but they were full of anxiety, they were very lonely, and terribly disillusioned.

There were others whom war still held as in a vice. They saw failure everywhere and felt that they were called upon to be the saviours of their country. There were many who thought that some message must come ; but what this message was none knew, though all awaited the summons. Feeling had not yet been wedded to Reason. We were ready to answer the call of our blood ; and what was of real importance was not so much that what we did should be the right thing, but that we should take some action to save us from the lethargy of the times.

* • * *

But We who were still fighting under the old colours had saved our country from chaos—God forgive us, we sinned against the spirit. We thought we were saving Die country--and we only saved the bourgeoisie.

An embryo thrives better in a state of chaos than in one of

order. Lethargy is the enemy of all progress. Since we had saved our country from chaos, we had shut the door to development and had given free passage to lethargy."

THE hero of The Outlaws, and his companions, were among those whom war held still as in a vice. For them, Germany

was not the worn and battered country that accepted the

Armistice and the peace terms : she was a spirit, burning clear as in 1914, surviving only in their hearts and others like them,

All men's hands were against them. Wherever they went, no

matter with whom they were confronted, sooner or later the clubs came out, the bullets flew : the machine guns were

posted in doorway or window, and the outlaws took toll of

their enemies. Reading this long series of battles is like a nightmare in which every character one meets sooner or later swells to monstrous size, in which every face freezes gradually into a leer of hatred, till in wild terror one lashes out and stamps and kills, and kills. From the hour when the cadets are struck in the face by their own townsmen—" But why, in God's name, why ? "—the nightmare compulsion grows : men's brains are shot out, Kleinschroth is mutilated and tortured, Captain Berthold is beheaded and stripped in the street, living Letts are flung full-length into burning houses, and scenes of horror like the shambles in the barn become part of the order of existence.

This is less a novel than a terrible and notable page in human history. • If one knew a young man growing up with any re- verence for.the thought of war, with any adherence to a cause for which he would be willing to shed blood other than his own, one could put this book in his hand and bid him read what hatred can do to mankind. I do not think I have ever read anything which so inevitably shows how quickly men in the mass can be turned by fear and suspicion into wild beasts. But Herr Von Salomon's book will serve another purpose, in kevealing to the people of those countries, in which the War did not lead to civil war, how eternally thankful they should be. It is nearly in-credible that such things should happen as happen in The Outkas, but, while the book is in our hands, we have no choice but to believe:them.

Everyone with a strong stomach should read this book— 'Gut it will need to be a very strong stomach., Mr. Ian F. D. Morrow's translation is wholly admirable. As an artist, Herr Von Salomon is hard to place : brit he has subordinated great descriptive powers and his vision to the production of a monotonous chronicle of horror with a success Which few readers will be able to forget.

Mr. Montagu Slater is to be congratulated on having broken fresh ground in his novel The Second City, though it is unfor- tunate that his title is that of a novel by Mr. W. J. Escott. Stanley Minnit, a young magistrate with something of an in- feriority complex, is sitting in the third court when the police bring up what appears to be an ordinary street betting charge. Minnit sees in it something else, and, to the discomfort of the police, he begins to probe into the case. Every difficulty is put in his way, but he persists--with results which it would be unfair to disclose. Those who believe corruption to be altogether a foreign weed may get uneasy moments from The Second City : but, despite a certain weight of propaganda which might well have been left aside (it is all implied in the story, and needs no other expression) Mr. Slater's book deserves a cordial recom- mendation to all and sundry.

The films have decided that sex with aviation is a popular mixture. Mr. Arnall agrees with them, dispensing more sex than even Hollywood prescribes. Even his rivers have feminine curves. It would be easy to pick fifty extracts to show that his book was nonsense : it would be easy to pick half-a-dozen to show that he had a turn for writing. The first time Stephen goes off with Phcebe, and several of the flights, are well told : but one has an uneasy feeling that Mr. Arnall is not likely to iniprove, and must decide, regret- fully, that the noes have it.

Those who fell under the eye of the Basilisk were reputed to feel decided ill effects. The chief effect produced by That Basilisk is the embarrassing sensation known, I believe, as "going all goosey." Ostensibly about Dublin and Sinn Fein and London and hive, it is hie certain sermtms of which 'Dr. Johnson once complained : it is about nothing. _ L. A. G. STRONG.