Martha Gellhorn Diana Trilling

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Diana Trilling

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

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["Liana"] is for me reminiscent of … "Tropic Moon" by the French writer Simenon, not only because both novels are triangular love stories of the French tropics and share a sophisticated concern for the way colored people are treated in the colonies, but because they both manage to achieve an emotional, almost a literary, effect quite beyond their literary merits. Possibly this is the result of their non-intellectuality—or rather, of their perfect blending of intellectual and emotional pitch. There is more atmosphere, for instance, in Miss Gellhorn's book than the author seems to work to produce, and more suggested meaning in the human relationships than characters such as hers usually yield. On the surface, or even several layers down, "Liana" is not much more than another stereotyped, not-so-lush-as-it-could-have-been narrative of tropical miscegenation…. Still, there are reverberations from Miss Gellhorn's simple story, as there were reverberations from Simenon's novel, which must be recorded on the credit side of the ledger; it is always a good thing when a novel gives off more effects than can be readily accounted for. (p. 104)

Diana Trilling, "Fiction in Review: 'Liana'," in The Nation (copyright 1944 by the Nation Associates, Inc.), Vol. 158, No. 4, January 22, 1944, pp. 104-05.∗