Goldring: The Herald’s “offensive” review

A while ago I posted some critical reactions to Douglas Goldring’s The Fortune (1917) trying to chart the limits of acceptability during the War years. I quoted Goldring’s autobiography:

…the only really offensive review in the whole bundle is from the columns of my favourite weekly paper, The Herald.

Interested to discover what was so offensive, today I took a look at the microform copies of The Herald for 1917. (The Herald, by the way, was the weekly version – during wartime paper shortages – of the militant Labour and Trades Union newspaper, The Daily Herald (which kept going till the 1960s, when it changed its name to The Sun, struggled along for a while being moderately left-wing, but then was sold off cheaply to Rupert Murdoch – and the rest is history.)

The wartime issues are fascinating. Lots about capitalist profiteering, food shortages and opposition to conscription. Book reviews are occasional, and mostly short. The review of The Fortune on 29th September, 1917, is (in its entirety) as follows:

A Pacifist Novelist

A pacifist novelist has a great opportunity, especially when he wanders from pre-war England to the Western Front and ends up in the Dublin Rising. Mr Douglas Goldring in The Fortune (Maunsel, Dublin, 5s) leads his hero through such a journey. It is doubtful whether he makes the most of his opportunities. The gathering together of stock anecdotes familiar to most visitors to Dublin after the insurrection and the exploitation of a well-known tragedy of the time will be distasteful to most Irish readers and many British ones with balance and taste. Mr Goldring’s sympathies, it must be added, are excellent. He provides some striking pictures and is occasionally subtle. “The winds of freedom blowing from Russia and Ireland” will, we hope, move him to write again with more proportion, enthusiasm and subtlety. As a record of the growth of pacifist convictions in an average “intellectual type the novel has its value.

The review is signed merely “D”. can we presume that the reviewer was Irish? It’s interesting how reviewers less sympathetic to Goldring’s politics (the TLS reviewer or T.S.Eliot in The Egoist) seem to have appreciated the book more. Perhaps pacifism had the charm of the exotic for them – while those on the left would have been aware of when Goldring wasn’t expressing the situation exactly as they saw it.

Personally, I think the review is less offensive than the sneery one in the New Age – but perhaps Goldring didn’t see that one, or had forgotten it by the time he wrote his autobiography. But no, judging by the rest of his autobiography, he never forgot any insult or quarrel.

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