Review of Douglas Stewart by Clement Semmler and Vance and Nettie Palmer by Vivian Smith
These two so different books stand an old adage on its head. Easy writing, said Byron, makes damned hard reading. Semmler makes a reader feel that the verdicts are couched in terms that spring all too easily to mind. There is something of the facile gusto of the enthusiastic salesman. But the book is not hard reading: fluttering from cliche to hyperbole, we can traverse it with no great effort. Smith, on the other hand, has deliberated perhaps a little heavily; and one reads always with gratitude but not always with delight. If there is an explanation, it may lie in a distinction - logically unacceptable in any rigorous analysis, of course —between style and content.
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