16 AUGUST 1930, Page 28

Messrs. Knopf have added to their series of " Americana

Deserts," Pierre, by Hermann Melville (10s. 6d.), edited by Robert S. Forsythe. The format is passable at the price, though the margins are ill proportioned to the page, and the printing is good. It is not, however, by any means an edition de lure, and it is doubtful whether the book itself will gain wide circulation in this country. The average reader will wade through the complexities and divagations of Moby Dick for the sake of the story and for Melville's mystic, yet immediate, sense of the sea and its perils. In Pierre, on the other hand, the divagations completely swamp the story. The proportion is about two lines of action to five pages of tortuous and extravagant preparation, and the result is intolerably indigestible. The principal interest is the auto- biographical one, which is carefully analysed by the editor in his introduction, and the fact that many of the circumstances of Pierre's life were similar to those of Melville perhaps justifies the editors of the series in their selection.