11 MAY 1929, Page 21

grateful to Messrs. Peter Davies for their reprint in one

volume of Moll Flanders and Roxana. It is a massive volume for the price (7s. 6d.). The adventures of Robinson Crusoe are a part of the history of England and known to every child in all their amazing circumstantial detail. The Plague Year, and also these two narratives, are no less miraculous in their assumption of conimon, prosaic verisimilitude: 'HOw Defoe, who by the mere evidence of the bulk of his writing must have spent at least twenty-eight hours a day pen in hand, could have learned enough of the adventurous world to invent fiction 'that is stranger than fiction yet more sober than fact; is a problem that remains to be solved. His only rivals in world literature for this gigantic vitality of imagination are. Shakespeare, Balzac, and Dickens. Another problem is that of his own attitude towards his imagination. Was he just an unconscious vehicle for the flood of invention, or was he a deliberate and critical artist, archly presenting the faked evidence under the compulsion of some malign or moral motive ? His preface to Moll Flanders suggests the latter, and we might corroborate that suggestion by a detailed examination of the soil of his mountain of invention. We should find that his artistic method is much like that of hi; latter-day disciple, Mr. David Garnett. But these are problems that need not worry the thousands who are eager to live through the very huinan adventures of a very human woman.

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