William Morris His Work and Influence." By A. Clutton-Brock. Home University Library. I/- net. Williams & Norgate, London, 1914. This is a book of absorbing interest treating not so much of the outward events of Morris's life as of the meaning of his work and thought to his own time and to ours. Mr. Clutton-Brock has something to tell us of Morris's childhood and youth, of his association with Rosetti, of the revival of arts and crafts which he effected, of his work as a poet and a master of prose, and finally the story of his share in the socialistic movement, but the value of the book lies in the clear exposition which it contains of the connection which exists between Morris and the social and political movements of our own day. The message of William Morris has a special significance for industrial Wales at this time of revival in national art and literature. For him art and labour were never divorced. He saw in the art of a people the expression of its moral values and social ideals, and it was because he found himself in a world where ugliness reigned supreme, where the craftsman was entirely cut off from the artist by the interposition of the capitalist with his machinery, and men toiled in joyless labour to produce things which carried with them no single joy-giving element to the consumer, that he passed from aesthetic dis- content to a deep discontent with the whole social fabric of a world in which such things could be accepted as inevitable. The ugliness of most modern things made by men represented to him joyless work, and that meant a waste of energy and life. Being himself both a crafts- man and an artist, he knew to the full what joy in work was, and being a man of quick social sympathies, he was not content with knowing it himself, he desired to impart it to all men. His socialism sprang from a desire to rouse men into a discontent which should lead on to a complete readjustment of the relative positions of worker and artist, in which the worker, in direct touch with the artist, would produce things of good workmanship and rational design which would be serviceable and gladdening to those who used them. As Ruskin turned from criticism of works of art to the criticism of society, so William Morris turned from the making of works of art to the effort to remake society he devoted the whole of his extraordinary powers towards no less an object than the reconstitution of the civilised life of mankind," and thus it was that the ugliness of houses, tables, chairs, clothes, cups and saucers, in fact, everything that man made," led him on to his work as a social reformer, because he saw that beauty was a symbol of happy work, and ugliness of unhappy, and so he became aware that our society was troubled by a new kind of unhappiness which it expressed in the ugliness of all it made." It was this union of the visionary and the man of action which made Morris one of the greatest men of the Nineteenth Century, and, with Tolstoy, the most lonely and distinct of them all." He worked at many branches of art, and in all achieved what he set out to do, to produce with pleasure work that should be serviceable and gladdening to mankind. Whether as architect or weaver, dyer or painter, poet or printer, wall-paper designer or carver, metal worker or decorator, it was always with the same end in view that he worked. He taught us to associate the arts with our common needs and habits, and to believe that by the proper training the ordinary workman of to-day, could, like the workman of the Middle Ages, supply our demand. Morris was essen- tially a man of forward-looking mind. Consider this passage from a letter of his, written in 1874. Suppose people lived in little communities among gardens and green fields, so that they could be in the country in five minutes walk, and had few wants, almost no furniture, for instance, and no servants, and studied the (difficult) art of enjoying life, and finding out what they really wanted; then, I think we might hope civilisation had really begun." Is not this the very inspiration underlying the Garden City movement ? And what a different picture it evokes for those who see the Welsh house- wife tied like a slave to her cumbrous and ugly furniture and "ornaments," submerged beneath her piles of dust-harbouring labour-consuming household gods I Space does not permit of any detailed account of the art or the poetry of William Morris, but Mr. Clutton-Brock's book will fire the reader with a desire to know more of the man, and will send him on to the Life by Mackail (now published in a cheap edition), one of the most delightful of modern biographies. Why we believe Christ rose from the dead." By Griffith Roberts, M.A.. Dean of Bangor. S.P.C.K. The class into which this volume falls is one which should become increasingly popular. The problems connected with our Christian faith have too long been studied by a very few, and it would be exceed- ingly helpful to the whole church if more such books were written with the purpose of examining, as the author puts it, the foundations on which the Christian belief rests, with the help afforded by the established results of modern criticism and research.
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