WHAT of the novelists? The war has brought them a wonderful opportunity, a new world bursting with fresh, unhackneyed, living material for their pens. Will they take it? Not yet perhaps. So far our Elder Novelists have pursued their even tenor with majestic disregard of the fact that the old world, their world, has collapsed on its foundations. But for the young writer who has the gift of clear sight, and can forge the right instrument of expression, there is no lack of matter. Aerial combats, mine‐sweeping, A.A. gunnery, munition making, the work of fire services and the various A.R.P. organisations, evacuation and the new social conditions it has created—all this is of our time, it is history in the making. So far only John Strachey has broached it. For others, that excellent volume Their Finest Hour points the way. Here the narrators are unsophisticates, amateurs, but their sheer sincerity and the vividness of their subject‐matter make their essays compelling. The fireman's masterly understatement on arriving at the blazing inferno of the Docks: “Well, this is a bit of a —!—”the remark of Mrs. Hart of Bethnal Green, whose house had been bombed: “Our house doesn't look like much now! Just a dirty heap for the dustman to carry away”—the pilot bawling into his radio phone: “Oh, look what's coming, dearie, hordes and hordes of nasty Messerschmitts!”—these things come with the sharp tang of reality, besides which the cultured cadences of the professional writer look shabby.
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