Vera Brittain Craig Thompson - Essay

Craig Thompson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Miss Brittain, an Englishwoman, has seen fit to offer for publication a series of letters to her 15-year-old son in America ["Humiliation with Honor"] which can have interest only to herself, her son and those among us who still have the strength and will to examine the position and arguments of pacifists in a time when more space must be found for casualty lists.

It may be that by writing these letters and publishing them Miss Brittain has found that certain ease which comes with getting a burden off the chest. It may even be that what Dr. Fosdick says [in the foreword] is also true—that in this slim book the "vast, unheralded, submerged meanings of war to the plain people of the world find a voice that once heard haunts memory and conscience."

It may even be that Miss Brittain's voice is the voice of the future crying for international brotherhood, for the good understanding between all peoples and an end of the nationalistic attitudes which set brother on brother because they happen to live on opposite banks of the same river. What she wants may some day come to be. It certainly makes more sense than what we have now. But Miss Brittain's approach is the pacifistic one, and there is no sign that any mass of people anywhere has come near the lofty perch from which she delivers her embracing homily.

Craig Thompson, "Pacifist Viewpoint," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1943 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), May 23, 1943, p. 22.