The Spyglass, Views and Reviews, 1924-1930: Selected and Edited by John Tyree Fain

By Donald Davidson | Go to book overview

Painful Literature Critic's Almanac December 8, 1929

While I was reading The Dark Journey, by Julian Green, I kept wondering, "What on earth? What makes him do it? Why does the man write about such things, anyway?" Possibly no decent critic ought to ask such questions; it is not critical politeness to be curious about an author's reasons. One is supposed to take the finished product for whatever it is worth, and it is the general opinion of various notables that Mr. Green's product is worth a great deal. Indeed, I think that nobody can cavil about the procedure of Julian Green art in The Dark Journey; it is perfection itself, unquestionably inclining the reader to put it alongside the art of certain great performers.

Still I am curious. It is the objects upon which that perfect artistic procedure is exercised that bother me. What a hideous lot these people of The Dark Journey are: a writhing, miserable group of worms, blindly feeling their way through the petty sub-bourgeois life, and now and then striking out venomously at each other. Mme Londe, a grotesque hag (depicted, it is true, with a faint touch of humor) pathetically bullies her boarders, a weak and nasty set, all of them. And Mme Londe regards complacently the furtive activities of her good-looking niece Angele--in effect a prostitute who goes out with the boarders, each in turn. For of course Angele is a help to the establishment.

Enter this scene of distrust and malevolence a veritable Tertium Quid, the incoherent guinea-pig M. Gueret, unhappily married and tormented by evil desires. Guinea-pig Gueret is mad for love of Angele. He patters around dark corners, makes assignations at which nothing is accomplished, timidly squeaks his desire and is brusquely put aside.

-93-

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