THE WAYWARD MAN. By St. John Ervine. The Macmillan Co. New York, 1927. $2.50.
MANY tales have been written from the first wanderings of Aeneas to the romantic adventures of the Sea Devil of the World War, but few have truly portrayed the life a sailor leads. Conrad has written of the romance and horrors of the sea, but in "The Wayward Man," one learns of the more truthful elements. In this story, Mr. Ervine has vividly painted the dirty forecastle of a square-rigger, the rotten pea soup and greasy pork, and the honors of serving under a "Blue Nose," who tied a boy to the mizzen fife for the whole of the time his ship was beating round the Horn. And not only at sea, but on land is the sailor's life vividly described in his dirty lodgings and carnal relations in a house of rather poor repute.
And the story is not only of the sea, but also of the urban life of Ireland and the struggle of a strong dynamic man, quite out of place in his natural surroundings. One feels certain that Robert Dun woody is destined for the sea, and yet, after serving his desires for several years, he returns to marry and settle down. It is very evident that he is most unhappy in his new surroundings, and in dealing with the outcome of this unfortunate crisis, Mr. Ervine has built up an exceedingly strong climax.
The true merits of the book, however, lie in the colorful and lifelike descriptions. One feels quite certain that Mr. Ervine has shipped before the mast to be able to picture the sea in its violent moments and to know the ships that he has truthfully portrayed. Not only in the descriptions, but also in the feeling of loneliness and remorse felt by many sailors does Mr. Ervine show the real spirit of the sea. "The Wayward Man," is a salty novel and because of its strong plot and many colorful pictures, is a very fine story.