JANUARY 17, 1956
SAN ANTONIO—Because of the long hours recently spent on planes and trains, I have had time to finish reading two excellent books. One is called "Love or Perish," by Dr. Smiley Blanton, to be published next week by Simon and Schuster. Dr. Blanton is a psychiatrist of many years experience who has also directed the clinic at the American Foundation of Religion and Psychiatry. He is now 74 years old, so he has lived a long life and evidently a full one.
In "Love or Perish" Dr. Blanton has simplified much of his experience in an effort to give many people an understanding of themselves. Of necessity he has often had to paint in broad lines, and you may not always find the answer to your particular difficulty. But I think you will find some general explanations which may help you to solve your particular problems. Dr. Blanton's last chapter especially has much wisdom, and the three important points he makes in it, which he says have "virtually universal application," seem to me very wise. These are that "we must forgive our parents for the injustices—both real and imaginary—we received in childhood"; that "we must have faith in a universal power greater than man's—the source of life and love"; and that "we must accept our own aggressive impulses as a natural and normal part of life." Perhaps this is one of the wisest parts of the whole book, for it is hard for most of us to acknowledge that we have within us the possibilities for doing many of the things we condemn. Dr. Blanton quotes Robert L. Stevenson's observation that "we all have feelings inside that would shame hell." This is a good thing to learn—one that will make all people more tolerant judges of themselves and of others.
The second book is the life of Yehudi Menuhin, by Robert Magidoff. I have previously mentioned that I found it a most sensitive and interesting book. Now I have finished it and I want to recommend it to all of my readers as one of the books they must surely read. I think Mr. Magidoff has done an extraordinarily brilliant study of character, both of Menuhin's father and mother and of the violinist himself. The emergence of a human being from a very difficult and sheltered childhood, filled with love and care but also with difficulties and repressions, struggling through bewilderment and lack of knowledge of himself and of other human beings into a whole man—all this is a fascinating story. Life held tragedy, but finally Menuhin grew to have the ability to live fully, to give through his art to hundreds of thousands of people, and, as a man and an individual, to give happiness to himself and to those around him. This is an extraordinary achievement, and the story ought to be of value to many struggling human beings. Simply as a novel, this would be an interesting story. But when it is about a person you admire as an artist and long to know and talk to, the book gives you a fascinating experience which I hope many will enjoy.