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Leslie Stephen: His Thoughts and Character in Relation to His Time

Leslie Stephen: His Thought and Character in Relation to his Time, by Noel Gilroy Annan. 342 pages, with 11 photographic illustrations. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1952. Price, $5.00.

Mr. Annan, whose primary themes are indicated by the subtitle of the book, devotes about ten pages to Stephen as a member of the Alpine Club and the Sunday Tramps. Read in context, these pages sharply illumine Stephen’s character as Annan conceives it. Here is a single-minded climber who found in mountaineering “a chance to announce to the world that, like Carlyle, he had proclaimed the Everlasting Yea,” and a sentimentalist who disguised the emotional quality of his Alpine memories by being brusque or by making (bad) jokes. The author is a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge; for better or for worse, he has never been of a mind, one gathers, to join the Cambridge Mountaineering Club. Readers who admit to a liking for The Playground of Europe may find themselves turning from Annan, not without gratitude for what he reveals, to a happier brew compounded of the A.J, and Maitland and Virginia Woolf’s essay “My Father: Leslie Stephen.”

D. A. R., Jr.