Truth as Brutality

Schwartz, Delmore
October 1953
New Republic;10/19/53, Vol. 129 Issue 12, p18
The article evaluates the book "The Present and the Past," by Ivy Compton-Burnett. The sympathetic characters in Ivy Compton-Burnett's thirteenth novel are paved with good intentions and truth is a word they use frequently and passionately. An eight year old boy tells his middle-aged father insultingly: "You don't know the truth of things and I have always known (it) ." "There is no such thing as truth," says his seven year old sister when told of the Bible's essential "truth." As in all her' novels, Compton-Burnett relies almost wholly on dialogue, and the plot serves chiefly as a springboard for loaded appalling conversational duels: one sometimes feels that if machine guns could converse, this is precisely what they would say.


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