So Big

Ever since William the Conqueror, Anglo-French relations have been a major preoccupation on both sides of the English Channel. In 1940, when the Wehrmacht bypassed the Maginot line and was on the way to Paris, a crisis arose in this relationship such as had never occurred before. From the British …

The Genius Syndrome

I first met William Gerhardie in the early Thirties, before he had added an “e” to his name. Hugh Kingsmill, a friend of his and mine, took me to see him in his flat in Hallam Street, just behind Broadcasting House. I remember thinking that it was more like a …

A Survivor

Considering that Max Beerbohm resolutely refused to put pen to paper, either to write or draw, in the last decades of his life, the growth of his reputation during those years was quite remarkable. As with E. M. Forster, his fame waxed with every book he did not write. Round …

What Price Glory?

I was asked the other day who I thought were the three outstanding men of action of our time, and answered without thinking: Gandhi, Stalin, and De Gaulle. On reflection I am inclined to stand by my choice. Most Englishmen would have begun with Churchill, but to me he has …

The Apotheosis of John F. Kennedy

I have just pushed aside, I confess with mounting distaste, a pile of Kennedyana on which I had been browsing. Graveyard, or memorial, prose is among the least edifying and least pleasing forms of human composition. There is a prevailing flavor of syrupy insincerity, an affectation of wholehearted truthfulness, amounting …

W**l*nd*ng

Mr. Wayland Young’s researches into erotica through the ages have been diligently undertaken, and, one must assume, accurately expounded. They will save those interested in the subject the trouble, and possibly the embarrassment, of procuring access to erotica normally kept from indiscriminate public inspection. Mr. Young, who is a peer …

Out of Vogue

On a pious visit once to the late Sir Max Beerbohm in Rappallo, it being a hot day, I took one of the horsedrawn carriages which still ply for hire there. This antique and decrepit vehicle waited for me during the hour or so I spent with Sir Max. I …

Secret Agent U-2

The Brothers Dulles might well, one feels, like the Brothers Karamazov, provide the subject for a novel of our time. When we consider them as non-fiction, however, we have to take account of the historical fatality whereby one of them, Foster, became Secretary of State under a President only too …

Peacemeal

“First let me talk with this philosopher.— What is the cause of thunder?” —King Lear to Poor Tom. There is an aged philosopher in Johnson’s Rasselas who has persuaded himself that he is personally responsible for ensuring that the sun rises in the morning and sets in …