by Gladys Schmidtt ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 27, 1942
First -- before launching into a statement of my own opinion of this book, may I call to your attention the fact that this is the winner of the biennial Dial Press Award, given to ""an outstanding novel which deals realistically with the problems facing the young men and women of America today"". This was the unanimous choice, from 200 manuscripts submitted to the judges, -- Sterling North of the N. Y. Post and Chicago Daily News, Margaret Marshall of The Nation, Charles Lee, The Philadelphia Record. Additional ""boosters"" include Whit Burnett and Donald Gordon. So -- the majority, to date, seems to be whole-heartedly ""for it"". And there is to be an initial advertising campaign of $2,500,00. We are telling you all of this because these facts weight heavily in the scales against our personal opinion. We hope you'll read the book yourselves...With this preamble, we now switch to the other side of the record. We not only did not like the book; we actively disliked it. We grant that it has all the earmarks of long and thorough absorption in the characters, the pattern of their interplay, the purpose of the story. We grant that there is an unusual degree of penetration in the analysis of the brother -- sister relationship, of the gradual disintegration of a spirit under concentrated adulation, of the making of a Fascist, of fearlessness in coping with emotional problems usually skirted. But the result -- and I venture to think I will represent Mr. Average Reader, is a sense of wallowing in the emotions of a group of unpleasantly abnormal people, under-sexed, over-sexed, perverted, who inflict their sensations upon the reader as though indulging in a psychoanalytical debauch. The situation is keenly evolved, the characters come through, almost too nakedly. But the process is that of Thomas Wolfe at his most tortuously introverted. Somehow the stream of consciousness intimacies seem out of tune with the pace of today's living and thinking. There's a touch of incest, a touch of homosexuality -- along with full measure of more or less normal sex. There are passages that are challenging to anyone's thinking, there is some extraordinarily perceptive writing. But dreams, letters, innermost thoughts and emotions, as Carl tries to rationalize his withdrawal from social and human contacts to a purely intellectual sociological approach, plus hero worship of the professor (who turns out to be something quite different from his image); as Ellie seeks to escape her passion for a ghost, to find normality through a middle-aged, ultra-sophisticated lover; as Paul, the uncle, Eugene MacVeagh, the aristocrat, and the various members of the group around the two central figures (Ellie and Carl) -- all these merge into a powerful novel which certainly will leave no one indifferent.
Pub Date: April 27, 1942
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1942
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