Can These Bones Live: With 42 Drawings by James Kearns and a Pref. by Herbert Read

Can These Bones Live: With 42 Drawings by James Kearns and a Pref. by Herbert Read

Can These Bones Live: With 42 Drawings by James Kearns and a Pref. by Herbert Read

Can These Bones Live: With 42 Drawings by James Kearns and a Pref. by Herbert Read

Excerpt

Sir Herbert Read

"Walden," Mr. Dahlberg writes on one of the pages which follow, "cannot be rushed into men's hearts . . . persuade and hint." I wish I could follow that advice in introducing this edition of his own book. It is a book I have lived with now for five years, and there is no contemporary prose work from which I have got so much pleasure and profit. The pleasure comes from the texture-a prose style which, in an age that has forsaken the art of prose, gleams with rich expressive beauty. There is not a page which lacks its vivid imagery, its memorable phrase. It is not the slick prose of the smart journalist, nor the careful prose of the timid intellectual, and least of all the intricate jewelry of the aesthete. It is the crystalline vein of the English Bible, of Shakespeare and Sir Thomas Browne, running through the torpid substance of modern life. It is not writing for writing's sake: it circles round the pit of our misery and degradation, and is as relevant to our present condition as any book of wisdom, and far more relevant than the scientific analyses and political prescriptions which are the rationalizations we make of our moral bankruptcy.

It is this all-pervasive human wisdom which draws one to the book again and again. It is a work of criticism and exposition. Shakespeare, Dostoevski, Cervantes, Thoreau, Melville, Whitman, Rilke, Randolph Bourne (of whom we are so regrettably ignorant in England) -- these are the prophets to be expounded, related, excoriated (stripped of accretions of platitude and misunderstanding). But behind them are the original prophets, the great Hebrew prophets, and the greatest prophet of them all, the Galilean. Turning and returning to these Hebraic forebears, Dahlberg taps some source of collective en-

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