Henri Troyat

Start Free Trial

Doris Grumbach

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

[In The Mountain, a] plane for Calcutta crashes on a Swiss Alp. Its passengers are all presumed dead, but it is carrying as well a cargo of gold for England. Two brothers, stirred by equally powerful drives of spiritual reassurance and monetary gain, climb the mountain to find the plane. In a wonderful descriptive chapter the superhuman climb is minutely detailed, and in a moving final section the ancient moral conflict is inevitably determined.

The consummation might have been expected to have more than its share of triteness had Troyat not made his hero a man of damaged wit, a simple, muddled peasant who feels deeply but without understanding, whose fervent loyalties are without logic or perception. Unlike John Steinbeck, however, whose Johnny Bear and Lennie and Tularicto were similarly deficient, Troyat has created a heroic rather than a mere freakish simpleness; his hero's essential goodness pervades the novel. Both the writer and his hero seem happily to share an instinctive and embracing sense of the victories possible for the human spirit. (p. 399)

Doris Grumbach, "Symbolic Height," in Commonweal (copyright © 1953 Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.; reprinted by permission of Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.), Vol. LVIII, No. 16, July 24, 1953, pp. 398-99.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Wilbur Watson


James Gray