The Myth of the Machine by Lewis Mumford(Harcourt, Brace and World; $8.95) Here comes Lewis Mumford again, sailing majestically down the river of time. Having illuminated the history of architecture and the phenomenon of cities (among other subjects) on previous voyages, he makes the journey once again out of different scholarly and humane concerns. Let him describe his new book himself.
The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder (Harper & Row; $6.95) Thornton Wilder's career is one of the oddest in American letters. After the publication of his first two novels in the twenties, he was accepted by the most demanding critics as a serious figure. In the same breath Edmund Wilson spoke of "Hemingway, Wilder, Fitzgerald" or, a dozen years later, of "Hemingway, Dos Passos, Faulkner, Wilder." The incongruity of those groupings today is almost comment enough.
In Cold Bloodby Truman Capote(Random House; $5.95) Here is a readable, generally interesting book about four murders in Kansas in 1959. If the author were John Doe, literary consideration could well end there. One might perhaps add that some of the writing is overripe, much of the detail is extraneous "color," some of the handling of material injudicious, and that a 343-page true-crime chronicle which does little more than recount a crime is inflated. Beyond that, however, the treatment, the style, the result would preclude extensive criticism.
"Movies have now gone past the phase of prose narrative and are coming nearer and nearer to poetry. I am trying to free my work from certain constrictions--a story with a beginning, a development, an ending. It should be more like a poem, with metre and cadence." Thus Federico Fellini, in a recent New Yorker article by Lillian Ross, speaking about his latest film, Juliet of the Spirits. What he describes is not a new impulse in filmmaking; it has been felt by (among others) such varied directors as Vigo, Ozu, and Godard.
My Autobiographyby Charles Chaplin(Simon and Schuster; $6.95) In 1913 the manager of an English music-hall company, which had been touring the US and was laying off for a week in Philadelphia, received a telegram from the New York office of a film company: "Is there a man named Chaffin in your company or something like that?" If so, the man was to communicate with the sender.Turning points, clearly defined, occur in many theatrical careers.
A Moveable Feastby Ernest Hemingway(Scribner's; $4.95) The very first entry in Camus' Notebooks might serve as epigraph to Hemingway's posthumous memoirs: "What I mean is this: that one can, with no romanticism, feel nostalgic for lost poverty." It is the city of Paris, in memory and effect that is the moveable feast; to it, Hemingway sat again in these recollections, written between 1958 and 1960, of his Paris life in the early 20's. This book, highly affecting and invaluable, is an anomalous performance in literature.
The Groupby Mary McCarthy(Harcourt, Brace & World; $5.95) Mary McCarthy is both representative and sui generis. An intellectual child of the thirties, she has long been concerned with matters that concern many of us; and her total range of interests, has been wider than any other American woman writer's of her time.She has now published a new novel about women. The Group, dealing not merely with her contemporaries but with her classmates, eight members of Vassar '33.
Like most autobiographical works Federico Fellini's scintillating new film 8 1/2 reveals something more than its author intended. Begin with the title. It derives from the fact that, up to now, Fellini has made six full-length films and has contributed three "half" segments to anthology films. Before we step into the theater, the title tells us that he is clever, and that he sees the film as part of his personal history.
Ingmar Bergman's new film Winter Light is relatively short (80 minutes), but then none of his films is long. Most of them run 90 minutes or so. Like Through a Glass Darkly, the new one is a "chamber" work: i.e., he uses relatively few actors and settings. The time-span of the story is shorter than in the last film. There is no score; the only music occurs in church services.It takes place on' one wintry Sunday in a country clergyman's life, between matins and vespers. The subject is another aspect of the subject of the last film, a crisis in faith.
Jean Genet's play, The Balcony, has a considerable history of adaptation in its short life. It was first published in 1956 in fifteen scenes; it was subsequently published in 1960 in nine scenes. (This is the version available here in translation.) Its first production was in English - London, 1957-over the author's violent protests about the way it was produced. It was first pre- sented in New York, off Broadway, in March, 1960 and was condensed before the opening; it was presented in France the following May and was condensed after the opening.