19 MARCH 1921, Page 21

As the Queen of Roumania says in her preface to

these trans- lations (Roumanian Stories Translated from the Original Rou- manian, by Lucy Byng ; John Lane, 6s. net), " Very little is known in England about Roumanian literature." Many people will turn with great interest and curiosity to this book to discover what Roumanian literature is like. Although there are plenty of historians and critics among Roumanian men of letters, there are few writers of fiction ; and, oddly enough, among those few there is no considerable novelist. We must therefore judge Roumanian fiction by the medium in which it is practised— the short story. If we were to sum up the characteristics of the Roumanian short story in a sentence we should say that the picturesqueness and fatalism of the East to which the Queen Roumania refers have been super-imposed upon a Latin tendency to carry everything to its final conclusion. Thus whether a Roumanian story-writer is dealing in horror or in mysticism, he generally carries his theme far beyond the degree of suggestion that would satisfy an English novelist. Most of the stories in this volume are gloomy with the sadness which belongs to a people who have lived under alien rule. We are unable to judge of the accuracy of the translations, but Mrs. Schomberg Byng's English is a thing of life, precision, and grace. We owe her a debt of gratitude for the trouble she has evidently taken.