Frank Swinnerton Raymond Mortimer - Essay

Raymond Mortimer

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Every page of [Young Felix] shows the author to be a perceptive and thoughtful person. But ever since I finished reading it, I have been wondering what it is that he has been attempting. Young Felix is the story of the first thirty years of a man's life. Is it only a prologue to an enormous work five times its length, in which case its shapelessness is only apparent? If so, Mr. Swinnerton is unfair to himself in not giving us warning. If not, what are we to make of it? There must have been a moment when Mr. Swinnerton first saw his story in the lovely light that plays upon an idea when first it rises to the surface of our minds. What has happened since? In some respect the conception lacked vitality, and the author's talent is wasted—at least as far as other people are concerned. He may have learnt a lot in the writing of his book, but we have learnt nothing that we did not know before—that Mr. Swinnerton is a serious and conscientious writer, with a good sense of comedy of which he hardly makes sufficient use. The first few pages seem to adumbrate the shape that Mr. Swinnerton intended his book should take, but the book hardly begins to take it. Why? If this review is a series of unanswered questions, it is really Mr. Swinnerton's fault. He should make more allowance for the stupidity of critics.

Raymond Mortimer, in a review of "Young Felix," in New Statesman, Vol. XXII, No. 548, October 13, 1923, p. 18.