The Crimson Bookshelf
WE ARE BETRAYED, by Vardis Fisher. New York, Doubleday, Doran and Company. 1935. 369 pp. $2.50.
THE third novel in a series of four this latest work from the pen of Vardis Fisher is a noteworthy bit of fiction. It is not startling but intensely alive and vivid in its descriptive passages. A morbid and depressing atmosphere pervades the pages and often the effect upon the reader is a disagreeable one. It is due in part to the subject matter and in part to the author's treatment which is never light, gay, or whimsical. Always his style is heavily laden with emotionalism and morbidity.
The title of the book is taken from a poem by George Meredith in which he says, "We are betrayed by what is false within." The story is a continuation of the life history of Vridar and carries him through his early married days and hectic graduate work. Fisher best describes the internal conflict that beset Vridar when he says, "Two personalities within him--the poet, credulous, self-pitying, and lost to unattainable ideals, and the thinker, ruthless and sardonic--were becoming day by day more irreconcilable; and he was disintegrating in the struggle and knew it."
At times we feel that the author over-plays the conflict and distorts his character out of the realm of reality but many more times he makes us experience the very emotions that drove Vridar to despair. There is no denying the intensity and vividness of the novel. On the other hand, the all-prevailing morbid tone often distorts the view so that it may not be seen from a proper vantage point.
It belongs to that modern school of writing that places the greatest emphasis upon psychological factors and descriptions and is a notable contribution to that field. The type of writing, however, necessarily limits the novel's scope and perspective.