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The Gods Angry

The Gods Are Angry, by Wilfrid Noyce. Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing Company, 1957. 214 pages. Price $3.75.

No one has a better right than Wilfrid Noyce to write a novel about a Himalayan expedition from the inside, after an apprenticeship in Garhwal and Sikkim during the war and the major expeditions to Everest and Machapuchare in 1953 and 1957. He understands well how to convey the atmosphere, from the gathering of the team to the contacts with Sherpas and porters, the approach to the mountain, and the existence in cold and rarefied air in the high camps. Changma is a sacred mountain surrounded by local superstition. Will the expedition reach its objective?

Wilfrid Noyce is mainly interested in portraying the very different personalities of the six men who make up the team, their attitudes toward the mountain, each other and the women they leave behind, their motives for embarking on what most people would call a wild goose chase. This is a fascinating but difficult undertaking, and though it does not invariably succeed, yet the story never flags. The key to Noyce’s belief seems to lie in the thoughts expressed by the leader of the expedition: "The important truth … is that the thing for which risk is run will be always worth that risk and more.… If humans are mortal there is something immortal however small in human endeavor … he who denies himself endeavor is like the man who, Dante says, made the great refusal, for he refused his own talents.”

Ursula Corning