HE AND SHE by Edward LeComte


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This is a rather interesting and unusual treatment of a commonplace subject: how two people of totally different backgrounds and attitudes can accommodate themselves to each other in marriage. Unfortunately the book stops just short of providing any really satisfactory answer either dramatically or logically. The book begins in the present at the televised execution of a political murderer. Krasnitz's conviction and impending death raised charges of anti-semitism, anti-unionism, anti-egalitarianism and fascism and it is this issue which serves to particularize the political and temperamental differences between Herta and John Butterworth. He's conservative, she's liberal and their stories are told separately. John's background was middle-class and though not religious was informed with all the virtues of Yankee Protestantism. While his life held no hardships he was a lonely child, always seemed just to miss out on experiences, and it wasn't too odd that his idea of defining the gap between his own attitudes and what seemed to be democratized ignorance was to become a Latin teacher in his old school. Whereas John's life was essentially dull, Herta's was filled with adventure and terror. Her father, a doctor, was killed by the Nazis during the pre-war persecution of the Jews and her life consisted of flights from one country to another until she reached America where she supported herself at odd jobs. She had not quite recovered from a love affair with a much older man who was both lover and mentor when she met John (ludicrously, at a nudist camp). He was so sure he wanted to marry her that she thought he was probably right. He and She is an intelligent book and there's nothing faulty in its descriptions of the two attitudes. It might be much more effective if it were to be read as an ironic comment on artificial political divisiveness, if only the Butterworths seemed basically suited to each other. It does raise another question though: how long can such a marriage last?

Publisher: McDowell, Obolensky