13 JUNE 1931, Page 26

My South Sea Island, by Eric Muspratt (Hopkinson, 7s. 6d.),

is at first sight somewhat disappointing, but the recovery is immediate. In these days of economy of material there is something very exhilarating in an author who can dispose of so much in so cavalier a way. What other writer to-day could have kept within one and a half pages the account of a hunt for wild pig, carried out on foot in the jungle, with spears for weapons, and accompanied by a crowd of naked Solomon Islanders? There is a great freshness, about some of Mr. Muspratt's verdicts on places and people, as where he says that a certain port and seat of European government is only slightly civilized." His judgement of character is extraordinarily sensitive and balanced. His appreciation of Mumford, the curmudgeonly, heroic, mean and gentle manager whom he relieved for his six months, is a masterpiece of portraiture. The most attractive part of the book, however, is his portrait of himself at a critical period of his life, his trial of the primitive and definite rejection of it in favour of civilization. It is epitomized in the speech of a native captain of his boat's crew, one among other jewels of pidgin English oratory which are far too good to quote, or this review would be longer.

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