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Postscript to Adventure

Postscript to Adventure, by Lord Schuster. 214 pages and 12 illustrations, including 3 sketches by H. G. Willink, with an introduction by Arnold Lunn. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1950. It is said that the late C. Myles Mathews once wished to possess an Alpine library: “I began with The Playground of Europe, and tried each succeeding volume by its standard. My library remained a collection of one volume. It is so no longer. Mr. Schuster’s book [Peaks and Pleasant Pastures] has joined it on the shelf.” Lord Schuster, like Dr. Longstaff a past-president of the Alpine Club, is a master of style; and his new book is scarcely less enjoyable than what he has written in earlier years. It is, however, largely a collection of papers read before mountaineering clubs; and, when the author has made a good point in one talk, he is naturally inclined to repeat it in the next.

We enjoyed particularly the chapter on the Meije, and rejoiced on finding the noble valedictory read by the author on the occasion of his retirement from the presidency of the A.C. There is a long and fascinating section on John Tyndall as a mountaineer, and there is a clever duel with Arnold Lunn over the matter of mysticism:

To say that there can be mystical communion between a mountain and a man is therefore nonsense. A mountain is a portion of the earth’s surface which, as a result of natural processes, stands higher than other portions. If it has a “shadowy personality” it is because we “attribute” such personality to it. And you cannot have a mystic communion with a lump of rock and ice; it has no spirit, no love, no compassion. And nothing which we do or say, or think or feel can endow it with these attributes. You cannot be a mystic all by yourself. Mysticism is a state which requires some relationship to something outside the mystic.

Convincing enough to make this reviewer award a decision on points to Lord Schuster.

J. M. T.