25 SEPTEMBER 1942, Page 4


ICONFESS to considerable concern at the strictures passed by Paul Winterton, Moscow correspondent of the News Chronicle, on the weekly propaganda journal Britanski Soyusnik (British Ally), a counterpart of Soviet News here, which the Ministry of Information is producing in Moscow through the Press Attaché at the British Embassy in Russia. The criticisms are that the journal is produced far too luxuriously for the prevailing standard in this rigorous time in Russia ; that such a headline as " Attack the Enemy Everywhere " is disastrously inept at a moment when the dominant emotion in Russia is grave disappointment about the non- creation of a Western Front ; that a picture of Trafalgar Square, " the loveliest square in London," provokes bitter comparison with the state of Stalingrad's squares, just as a page of pictures of tranquil British rural scenes does with the Ukraine or the Kuban ; that a cartoon depicting the anger and dejection of Hitler and Goebbels as they see the Russo-British alliance cemented finally and in- dissolubly by the birth of British Ally is calculated to produce nothing but cynical derision. That is by no means all, but it will serve. Not being a reader of Russian I can only reproduce the comment of someone who is, someone moreover who would certainly not be a priori unsympathetic to such a venture, and who is in a position to know what Russians themselves are saying about it To devise the right propaganda for Russia in present circumstances is a matter of extraordinary difficulty, but bad propaganda is far worse than none at all. There may be some answer to Mr. Winterton's criticisms, which are detailed and calculated to convince. An answer certainly is needed.

* * * Interest in Mr. P. G. Wodehouse and his fortunes appears still" to be lively. As I rather expected, my quotation of last week from Mr. H. W. Flannery's book Assignment to Berlin, to the effect that Mr. Wodehouse had not been in England for seventeen years, has at once been challenged. Someone in a position to know all about Wodehouse's movements states that he was in England (vibrating between a house off Park Lane and a house in Sussex) till.1933 and he appeared in Glasgow in 1936. Whether the statement about absence from England came from Wodehouse himself anyone read- ing Mr. Flannery's actual words is as well able to decide as I am. He wrote: " ` We are not at war with Germany,' Wodehouse said, con- sidering himself an American. (He had not been in England for seventeen years, but had neglected to apply for United States citizenship.) ` I just put it off,' he said, ' it was so much bother.' "

One point of psychological interest is worth adding. " My reading of the problem," writes one of my correspondents, " is that Wode- house escaped into a world of his own creation and became one of his own characters." That coincides exactly with Mr. 'Flannery's explanation of the whole Wodehouse episode. An astute Wilhelms- haven official, he says, thought it was safe to set Iodehouse broad- casting because " he knew that Wodehouse made n of the English in all his stories, that he was still living in the period about which he wrote, and had no conception of Nazism and all it meant. Wode- house was his own Bertie Wooster." A charitable exp!anation, perhaps, but probably a true one. (e more addendum. Before the broadcasting episode, I am told, Sir Hugh Walpole headed an appeal by leading British novelists to the Foreign Office to try to secure

Wodehouse's release. The refusal was uncompromising, and reaso were given which I am bound to say seem fully adequate.

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My paragraph last week on the sphere of the churches, with suggestion that salvage appeals did not fall within it, has elici various expressions of opinion, most of them in agreement, s in disagreement, with what I said. The Church, of course, can hold itself aloof from the practical affairs of life. It is right of enough for it to discuss and give guidance on the very questi that are being hammered out in the political arena. Of the two, is better for it to concern itself with spiritual things at the cost the practical, than with practical at the cost of the spiritual, there is no reason, why a wise middle course should not be sou and found. I have just been given a booklet in which that prob is discussed with what seems to me great discretion and insi It is the report, running to some 72 pages, of a commissi appointed by General Assembly of the Church of Scotland last M under the chairmanship of Professor John Baillie, "for the inlet pretation of God's will in the present crisis." Less than a do pages deal with questions concerning the Church of Scotland in pa titular. The rest is of completely general application. The first s tence indicates the spirit in which the subject has been approached "The essential content of the Christian message must be the s for all times, but in different times different aspects of it need be specially emphasised." The report has been published by Student Christian Movement (58 Bloomsbury Street, W.C.t) and the title God's Will in Our Time at 9d. (post free told.).

* * * * A correspondent who, incidentally, expresses agreement with in views regarding the functions of the Churches, sends a hexame couplet so neat that though it may appeal to only a limited cirri of Latinists I cannot refrain from reproducing it: Scire yells veteris chartae quisnam foret usus? Omnia turn•vobis resonabunt pulpita "PULP IT."

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It is rather the fashion to say derogatory things about the B Trust, on the ground, for example, that its members radiate over globe unconsidered and superficial judgements on great matters. may be so—in fact it seems inevitable. All the same I find Brains Trust invariably, or almost invariably, entertaining, and I unfeignedly glad to see it back at work. This week's team—S William Beveridge, Professors Gilbert Murray and Julian Huxle Col. Walter Elliot and Dr. Malcolm Sargent—was excellent, feature of the evening being the display by specialists of sound round knowledge. But the spider and the fly seem to be ill-omen topics for the Brains Trust. A galaxy of its members some w ago manifested comprehensive ignorance of the means by will a fly lights on a ceiling, and on Tuesday this week's quince was equally flummoxed over a question about the technique spiders' webs—all, that is to say, except Professor Huxley, diligent cross-examination by his four colleagues failed to elucida to their satisfaction his confident explanations of the process. clear case for an S.O.S. to Commander Campbell, who no doubt several friends among the tarantulas of Guadalcanal or somewh similar.