Thursday, June 9, 2011

John Buchan

I have indicated before the pleasure I get from the thrillers written at the beginning of the last century by John Buchan. Those books are old enough that they have entered the public domain and are freely available for Kindle or other electronic devices. Lars Walker appears to enjoy them as much as I do - especially those involving Richard Hannay, the hero of The 39 Steps. He has just read the third in that series, Mr Standfast, the book from which I took my internet name. Here he presents his appreciation of that book:
Richard Hannay, hero of the series, is now a brigadier general in the British Army, fighting in France in World War I. As Mr Standfast begins, he has been summoned to the War Office for a special assignment. He is ordered to take on the character of a South African political radical, go to a village called Isham, and insinuate himself into a group of radicals he will find there. Further orders will follow. .... [more]
I have already posted about this book and the others in the series:
I have been re-reading the John Buchan thriller from which I took my blogging pseudonym, Mr. Standfast [it was only after I had done so that I recalled Pilgrim's Progress]. It is the third of four "Richard Hannay" adventures written during and just after the First World War and set in that period. I enjoy them all. I was in high school when I read The Thirty-Nine Steps — the first and shortest of the Hannay books — and I have read it every few years since. I hadn't read Mr. Standfast recently. In it, Hannay is up against a very dangerous German spy whose efforts may prolong the war for years, or even lead to German victory in the spring of 1918.

At one point Buchan puts these words in the mouth of one of his characters, a man named Wake, speaking to Hannay:
.... I hate more than I love. All we humanitarians and pacifists have hatred as our mainspring. Odd, isn't it, for people who preach brotherly love? But it's the truth. We're full of hate towards everything that jars our ladylike nerves. Fellows like you are so in love with their cause that they've no time or inclination to detest what thwarts them. We've no cause - only negatives, and that means hatred, and self-torture, and a beastly jaundice of soul. ....
If you enjoy thrillers, and you haven't red Buchan, do.

Brandywine Books, Standfast