The NATION1

716
tr!gue and chicanery. He describes
Bemmarchais’s
unceasing
and finally
successful efforts to have France SUFp@rt
the Amerlcan colonies against England
and deserves credit forthe diplomacy
wlth whlch he tellshow the Amerlcan
Congress consistently refused to repay
Bea,umarchals the m ~ l l ~ o nof
s frmcs
owed to hlln
Beaumarchajj’s
adventures as a 3py and secret agent are 2s exciting as a detectlve story, titbugh the
really curious reader may feel let down
whenthe
authormust
gloss over the
detalls of a sltuatlon for lack of precise
information or because guesswork
would result In too morbld a solution.
It IS easy to see why Mr. Lemaitre
keeps Beaumarchais movlng about like
a jumpmg-Jack The book rnentlons hls
“unpredlctablllty” and“the mysterious
rhythm of hls moods” and explains
these throughwhat
are finally quasipsychologlcal superficiallties-“‘the emotional earmarks of adolescence” resulting from a quarrel between the youthful
Beaumarchals and his father,
I don’t mean thatthe standard innocuousness of the academic biography,
jacked up by an expert, hearty, journalistrc style, should turn into a deep psychoanadytic study; yet since Beaumarchals, hardlya Dostowskl, nevertheless
shares wlthhimthe
almostmcompreUnderhenslble motlvatlons of the
ground Man, of what is known as the
“neurotlc character”-much
more serious than beingneurotlc or even psy-

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chotlc-one feels dlsappointed after
finishmg thts book. It lacks real insight
into a very complicated character.
Worse, because Lemaitre consistently
looks at hJs subject throughthe eyes
of “a sound and saneadult,”
heis
often patronlzrng.

RENB

BLANC-ROOS

Fiction in Review

A

LTHOUGH G e o r g eOrwell’s
“Nmeteen Elghty-Four” (Harcourt,
Brace, $3) IS a brdhant and fascmating
novel, thenature of its fantasy is so
absolutely final and relentless that I can
recommend It only with a certam
ervatlon. This is Mr. Orwell’spicture
of the way the world ends: actually it
does
not
end at all, physically-ne
would even welcome some well-placed
atom bombs--but contlnues in a perpetual nightmare of lrvlng death. Thlrtyfiveyears from now, accordlng toMr.
Orwell’s grlm calculatlon, there will be
threegrezt powers on thlsplanet, any
two of whlch will be constantly at‘war
wlth the thlrd, not forascendancy but in
order to mamtarn the political and economic status quo““War
1s peace,” as
the party slogan has It. For the rulers of
the future state It IS enough that people
areallowed to exlst; their welfare-In
any sense In whlch weunderstandthe
word-does not have to betaken into
account. The dehumanlzatlon of man
has reached its ultimatedevelopment.
Love, art,pleasure,comfort,
the sexual
emotlons, have all been recognized as
the consumer products of a soclety based
upon the freedom of the Individual, and
they have been liquldated. Life-If
it
can be called llfe-goes on only so that
power may goon.
Mr. Om-ell’s descriptlon of how thi.
dlctatorshlp operates is lngenlous in the
extreme The populatlon is divrded into
Inner Party, Outer Party, and “proles.”
The economy of the state 1s always a
war economy. The head of the government I S BlgBrother, he of the ublquitous fdce, whose all-seelng eye follows
one wherever there IS llght. The strong
arm of power IS theThought Police;
the greatest sln agarnst the state, Crimethink. To help the pollce detect subversion every public or private room is
equipped wlth a telescreen which records each move and utterance of the

indiviiual citizen. There is a Ministry
of Truth whose function it is to eradlcate whatever may have been said yesterday whrch is no longer p o l q today, and
a Minlstry of Love where dissidence is
educated into orthodoxy before It IS
extermmzted. T,here IS a state language,
Newspeak, conslsting only of such words
as make freedom of thought impossible.
Here 1s Mr. Orwell’s vision of the future. The fact that the scene of “Nmeteen Eighty-Four" is Londonand that
the pollticaltheory on which. Mr. Orwell’s dictatorshlp is based IS cailed
Ingsoc, whlch IS Newspeak for Engiish
socialism, indicates that Mr. Orwell is
fantasymg the fate notonly of an a1readyestablisheddictatorshiplike
that
of Russia but also that of Labor England; and indeed he
states very clearly
that “by the
fourth
decade of the
twentleth century all the main currents
of polltical thought wereauthoritarian,
. Every new political theory, by whatever name It called itself, l e d back to
hierarchy and regimentation.” This assimdation of the English Labor goJ-ern.
mentto
Soviet communism is snrely.
from anyImmediate p o l ~ t ~ c apolnt
l
of
view, unfortunate.Ontheotherhand,
whatever our partisanship for the pres.
entEnglish revolution as agamst the
present situation in Russia, we must
recognize that the generalization in the
lesson Mr. Orwell is teachmg is a proper
one. Even where, as in his last novel,
“Animal Farm,” Mr. Orwell seemed to
be concerned onlywith unmasking the
Sovlet Unionforits
dreamy admtrers,
he was urgedon by something larger
than sectarianism. What he was telling
us is thatalongthepaththeRusian
revolution has followed to the destruction of all the decent human values thera
have stood the best ideals of modern
social enlightenment. It is this idealrsm
he has wished to jolt into self-awareness.
In the name of a higher loyalty, treacherles beyond imaglnation have been
committed; inthename
of Socrslisr
equality, privdege has ruled unbrdled;
in the name of democracy and freeJom,
the lndmdual has lived without public
voice or prlvate peace-if thls is true of
the Sovlet Union, whyshould
It not
eventually be equally true of the Englrsh
experiment? I n other words, we are
beingwarned against the extremes to
which the contemporary
totahtarIan
spirit can carry us, not only SO that wo

..

717

June 25, 1949
will be warned against Russii but also
so that we will understand ‘the ultlmate
dangers involved wherever power moves
under the gulse of order and ratlonallty.
Wlth thisrefusal to concentrate hls
attack upon Sovlet totahtarlanism alone
Mr. Orwell reasserts the ablllty, so rare
among intellectuals of the left, to place
his own brandof idealism above the
uses of polltlcal partisanshlp. It is very
dlfficult to pin a political label on the
author of “Nineteen Elghty-Four”: if
one hasheard that Mr. Orwell is now
an anarchist, one can of course read his
new novel as the work of an anarchistbut one can just as easily read it as the
work of an unfashionable,highly
irnaglnativedemocrat or of m”o1d-fashlonedlibertarian. Yet one cannot help
belng thrown off, I think, by somethlng
In the book‘s temper, a fierceness of Intention, whKh seems to vlolate the very
prmciples Mr. Orwellwould wish to
preserve inthe world. Whereas“Animal Farm” was too prlmltlve a parable
to capturetheemotions
it wlshed to
persuade, the new book exacerbates the
emotions
almost
beyond endurance.
Even apart from the cruelty of Its imaglnation-and
Mr.Orwell
has concelved the inconceivable-one
is distur,bed by the book‘s implacable tone
andthe
enormous
pressure
it exerts
uponthe reader, in such marked contrast, by the way, to the relaxed, beautifully civilltedtone
of Mr.Orwell’s
llterary and soclologlcal essays. To make
this crlticism is not to ask for quietism
as themethod of combatingthe passions which are destroying modern life.
But it is to wish that there were more
of what E. M. Forster calls the “relaxed
will" in at leastthose of us who, llka
Mr. Orwell, are so acutely aware of the
threats of power.
DIANA TRILLMO

Books in Brief
d

T H E GREENERGRASS.
By Berton
RouechC. Harper. $2.50. Visits to such
rural industriesas mink,herb, potato,
and duck farms, aclgar-maker, an ox
raiser, and oth’ers. Readablebuthighly
standardized New Yogker reporting.

THE BLACK HILLS. By Robert J.
Casey. Bobbs-Mernll. $ 5 . Tall tales and
anecdotes of the Black Hillstogether

with asupplementary guideand many
illustrations. Sam Bass, Calamlty Jane,
Buffalo Bill, General Custer, Wild Bdl
Hlckok, and dozens of other flamboyant
characters swagger throughthe
pages
of this entertaining hodgepodge,

AGNES R E P P L I E R : LADY OF
LETTERS. By George Stewart Stokes.
University of PennsylvanlaPress.
$3.
An intimate, authonted blography of a
thoughtfulandoriginalwoman.Unfortunately, Mr. Stolkes overdoes the Intimacy, and his book reads something
like a house organ for the Phlladelphla
social Ilterati.

T

1

HERB are some who take Toscanini’s fidelity tothe composer’s
score to meanthat
if there areonly
a p in onemeasure of a Mozart score
and M f eight measures later, the p and
f are all that Toscanini produces in his
performance. But as it happens he has
ated, as one of the dlfficultles in playingMozart,the
fewdlrections In the
score, and has remarked on how boring
the music is unless one knows what to
d o between the p and the f. And actually there IS in his performance a profusion of subtle inflection which creates
excitlng llfe between the infrequent P’J
and f’s.
A n illustration of the difficulty he
mentioned is at hand in the performance
of Mozart‘s Serenade K 361 for 13 wind
inStruments that Koussevltzky recorded
with members of the Bosto5 Symphony
for RCA Victor (DM-1303, $ 6 ) , I
used to find the work uninteresting; this
time I have found parts of it-hke the
slow introduction, the mmuet, the slow
movement-very
fine, with no
help
from aperformance which is a succession of lovely soundsproduced by the
excellent players wlthoutthephrasing,
nuance, hght and shade that should have
beenproducedinthose
sounds by the
conductor. The theme-and-varlatlon
movement suffers furtherfroman
excesslvely slow pace, and two movements
and part of another are omltted.
Andan
illustration of Toscanini’s
practlce is also at hand in the performance of Mozart’s Concerto K-191 for

bassoon that he recorded with
the
N. B. C. Symphony and its solo bassoon,
Leonard Sharrow (DM-1304, $2.50). I
would suppose this is a work that MOzart wrote as adlsplay plece for some
player h e knew;and I would suspect
also it was an occaslon for Mozart to
amuse himself-not only obviously and
loudly with the tootllng and braying he
gave to the solo instrument, but quietly
and subtly with the comments he gave
the
to
orchestra-comments
whlch
would go unnoticedin the usual performance of the orchestral part, but
which c l a m dellghted attentlon wlbh
the life they have from Toxanini’s inflection of them. And since Mr. Sharrow plays as the solo bassoon of the
orchestra in a performance conducted
by Toscanini, the performancehas
a
unity of style that is rarein concertoplaying.
Columbia has issued the Letter Scene
from Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”
sung by Ljuba Welltsch with the Philharmonia Orchestra under Susskind
( m - 3 1 0 , $3.10),The music is very
beautiful, the performance excellent, except for the steely sound of Welitsch‘s
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